I’m a big fan of Jackbox games. While I may not host parties very often, whenever I do, the Jackbox games are the first thing on the agenda.
The Party Packs have always included a selection of five games, all designed for groups of people to play together. There are some staple titles that Jackbox continues to reiterate, but most of the Party Packs have mainly new, unique titles in them. The latest addition to the franchise, Jackbox Party Pack 4, is no different. There are five games in total; one of them is familiar – Fibbage 3 – but the other four are completely new. The collection has a couple of hits, but overall it’s not the most impressive package that Jackbox has offered us to date.
Let’s run through the games, one by one:
If you’ve played Fibbage before, then you’ll know exactly what to expect from Fibbage 3. You’re given statements with black spaces in, and it’s up to you to come up with the best answer to fool your opponents into thinking it’s the right answer. With a whole new set of prompts, it’s just as good as it’s even been and it’s easily the highlight of the collection. It also includes a whole new game mode, Fibbage: Enough About You, that asks players to each state true and false facts about themselves for everyone else to guess. It’s a pretty short game, but it’s a nice twist on the familiar gameplay.
Survive The Internet
Survive The Internet is pretty weird, but that should come as no surprise – it’s a Jackbox game, for crying out loud. One player will be asked a fairly straight-laced question, and their answer will be sent to another player – but that other player won’t be given the context and will instead have to come up with the title of an article that their answer would be a ridiculous comment of.
For example, Player One might be asked to describe milk. They’d perhaps answer something to the effect of “a white, drinkable liquid”. Player two would be sent the statement “A white, drinkable liquid” and would be asked to come up with an article that it’d make an awful comment on. Jackbox has always been at its best when it allows you to lose all inhibitions and come up with the most ridiculous – and sometimes rude – answers possible. Survive The Internet briefly touches on that, but doesn’t ever come as close as the likes of Quiplash.
Bracketeering is pretty good fun. Every player is asked to come up with an answer to a statement, and then the answers are matched against others in a sports league bracket fashion. You then have to vote on what answer is best, making bets along the way, until you’re left with only two answers going head-to-head to find a winner.
It sounds pretty vanilla for Jackbox – and in round one of the game, it kind of is. But round two mixes things up by asking you to name something – but not telling you what the question will be. One game we played asked us simply to name a large animal, then when it came to voting, we were actually picking which of our answers would make a better velvet art canvas. (My answer of “mutant caterpillar” lost out to a grizzly bear. Sad times.) Bracketeering is perhaps the simplest of the collection, but not in a bad way. It’s certainly more accessible to a wider range of players than most.
Monster Seeking Monster
I strongly disliked Monster Seeking Monster. For me, it felt out of place in the collection and brings the whole package down a notch. Each player takes the role of a monster who’s taking part in a six-day dating event. Your task? Send up to four private messages to players each round, then choose someone to date. As you play, it’ll be revealed that each monster has a secret agenda – i.e. to date someone in particular, or to try stop someone else getting a date.
The trouble is, in a party situation, people are always more likely to message the people they’re closest to. And if the game tries to force you to choose someone else – and if it’s not someone you know well – it can feel a little awkward. Sure, it’s only a game, but I can imagine many sulking faces when someone’s boyfriend chooses to date Cyndi-from-across-the-road instead of them. It just wasn’t fun at all. For it to work in any way, messages sent needed to be more anonymised, and perhaps multiple choice would have made it a bit more palatable to uncomfortably flirt with a family member.
Hooray, the staple art-based game! Civic Doodle puts a turn-based street-art spin on the Drawful concept, and actually, it might be even more enjoyable. The game starts out by giving you an unfinished mural. Players work head-to-head to add to the drawing, and everyone else must choose which drawing is best. The winning picture then becomes the new base, and players take it in turns to doodle in their own additions. It can be hilarious seeing your masterpiece butchered – or seeing your hideous creation become something rather beautiful (less likely).
The second round was more fun, giving each player a prompt and asking everyone to draw simultaneously. After each prompt, players vote for the best image, then everyone’s given another prompt to add to the best picture. Our group was asked to start with an ostrich head. The best head was chosen, and then we all had to add a body, legs, wings and so on. My ostrich looked more like a horse. It was not chosen.
If you already own a Jackbox Party Pack, then you’re not missing out on much by avoiding Party Pack 4. There’s not a single standout title in the collection that’s worth paying the full price for. Fibbage 3 is great – but doesn’t do much to make it worth upgrading from a previous Fibbage for. If Civic Doodle becomes available separately, then it’s worth grabbing, but it’s not enough to carry the entire collection.
Jackbox Party Pack 4 isn’t completely disappointing – there’s still enough here to warrant a few giggles and it’ll pass an hour or two with a few friends, but it’s not the best that Jackbox has to offer. Go for Party Pack 2 or 3 instead.