Coming off the heels of the stand-alone release of Fibbage, Jackbox Games has brought together five different party-style games in a single package. With the general focus in the industry on expanding the online multiplayer front, Jackbox has succeeded in crafting an enjoyable local multiplayer product with the option of limited online multiplayer. The emphasis on using smartphones and laptops for controllers and allowing users to simple enter a room code to join in the game will have a huge impact on the industry.
Most gamers will recognize Jackbox Games, formerly Jellyvision, for their trivia game series You Don't Know Jack, which can be played either alone or with others. The past few years saw a wide range of varying party style games released on mobile devices, marking The Jackbox Party Pack as Jackbox's return to consoles. Yes, they released Fibbage on consoles a few months back, but with the inclusion of a better version in the Party Pack (40% more questions), the solo release feels like Jackbox was testing the market.
The five different party games differ in the amount of players that can play simultaneously and don't expect any of the games to feel the same. As I mentioned earlier, You Don't Know Jack will be instantly familiar to trivia game fans, and the new addition has some of the wildest questions in the series. Cookie Masterson reprises his role as host, keeping the atmosphere from getting too serious with jokes and side comments after each question. YDKJ feels limited when compared to the rest of the games in the compilation, as it only supports up-to four players.
The previous review for Fibbage already explains the mechanics for the game, but up to eight players attempt to fool each other with lies that almost sound like the answer to a question. Not only does picking the correct answer yield points, but you gain points if anyone chooses your fake answer. There are hundreds of questions set across many different categories, but eventually you'll start to see duplicate questions. The XL version of the game adds more questions into the mix, which was my only problem with the initial release of the game. Those that purchased the stand-alone game won't receive updates, so the only way to experience the XL version is through purchasing The Jackbox Party Pack.
Drawful tasks players with drawing the word of phase they are given on their touch screen device. As you can expect, without a stylus the drawings will be crude in nature, but that adds to the charm of the game. Similar to Fibbage, players will attempt to guess what is being represented on-screen by choosing the correct answer from all of the players' lies and the one correct answer. The answers are precise, so you won't receive credit if you don't have the exact words in the phase. For example, if the answer is "The Moon" and someone writes "Moon", it won't recognize that as the correct answer.
The final two games are the weakest in the compilation, barely providing as much as a single laugh. Lie Swatter has an impressive player count at 100, but the game itself is no more than a game of true or false. We did have about a dozen people playing the game at a single time, but after a few rounds most wanted to either play another game of Fibbage or Drawful. Word Spud is the only non-competitive game, and can best be described as a cooperative word association game. You are meant to build off words and create funny phrases, while other players either like or dislike your answer and assigning you points in the process. The game ends when someone receives enough points, but if you know someone is going to win, the other players can simply dislike every round to extend the game.
The best part of the Part Pack is that anyone from your parents to your grandparents can join the game as long as they have a supported device. iOS devices are the more popular ones in my family, and only someone with an older device had issues connecting to the game. Depending on your location and your service provider, you may have a bad service connection which could also lead to being dropped in the game. If you are dropped, reentering the room code should allow you access to the game, but that isn't always the case.
Android however was another story, as one family member couldn't get the website required to play the games to load. With the varying browsers available on Android, it doesn't look like it is well supported, even if it was one of the more popular Android devices. Strangely enough, the URL for the stand-alone Fibbage title worked flawlessly, while the issue occurred when trying to access the Jackbox url for the remaining games.
Since the game relies on a room code to lock players into the game, Jackbox has tailored the experience to be still enjoyable if you aren't in the same room as the rest of the players. Although you will have a lesser experience and miss all of the information on the television screen, certain games will still function if you happen to share the room code on a Twitch stream, for example. With the 100-player count in Lie Swatter, the game was almost designed for this purpose.
Designed to be the life of a party, The Jackbox Party Pack is the best party experience on any platform. Outside of a couple disappointing games, and the small player count in You Don't Know Jack, Fibbage and Drawful step up to main event status.
Note: The The Jackbox Party Pack review is based on a digital PS4 copy of the game, provided for review.