Jackbox Games have once again released a new collection of games in the form of The Jackbox Party Pack 4. Party games were once about settling down with friends to play titles like Mario Party or Goldeneye, everyone with a hand on a controller with their eyes glued to the screen. Those games would provide you all the tools and you'd sit around and have fun for hours. Jackbox Games introduced a new way to play party games, giving you a framework that allows you to inject your own style of humor into each session. Whether you should let your own style of comedy run loose is a very different conversation.
Fibbage 3 returns to pose facts and questions to players while leaving out an important word or two for players to fill in. Once all the answers are collected, they're displayed on the screen alongside the truth. It's up to you to try to decide which you think is correct. Points go to those who get the correct answers, and those who manage to fool others. This is a classic for Jackbox with the original Fibbage being the first of their games to use their "mobile device as a controller" gameplay style. It's not just about playing the game but playing the people you're with. Fibbage quickly becomes a mind game to try to choose an answer as close to the truth as possible. As always, you'll end up with tough decisions picking whether it's a "Jet" or "Jet Fuel" that "can't melt steel beams" and be crying out when you realize you picked the wrong one. For those who want to leave the points to the serious players and try to rack up the biggest laughs, there's the Thumbs Cup. This is a trophy awarded at the end to the player who earned the most likes for their responses. The thumbs cup adds some variety but unless you go into a game planning for one or the other it's difficult to swap track part way through. The base formula of Fibbage hasn't changed, but a fresh allotment of trivia and prompts provide another chance to gather a group of friends and play until you know them all.
Fibbage: Enough About You is the new mode accessible within Fibbage 3. Instead of needing to create fake answers to trivia questions, the player is prompted to answer queries about those playing the game. You might be asked what a member of your group's favorite pet is or what music they like to listen to. The person in question will get to enter their answer while everyone else gets to come up with a lie for you. It's practically the same as the regular Fibbage game, but you're the butt of the joke. While this new mode makes the game more fun with friends, it doesn't lend itself to streaming with random players. There is also a reliance on an honesty rule for the game to work. If you're playing with folks who'd rather tell you about the time that they visited Mars, then you might just be better off not playing.
The first of the new titles is called Survive the Internet. In this game, players twist their opponents' words in an online forum. Players will get the chance to comment on headlines and images for categories such as News, Blogs, and Social Media. That comment is then passed around randomly to another player who gets to conjure up a new title. It's basically just a game of taking your friend's in-context comment and completely replacing the context for hilarious results.
The aim is to come up with as many comedic topics to match with others comments. Unlike the free-form comedy of other titles like Fibbage, you really need to think quickly and within the category, if you're going to do well. This restriction can be seen two ways as players who enjoy some guidance to their jokes will be more comfortable with the setup, players who like to do their own thing might just feel boxed in. The variety of the categories comes down to what the comment is being applied to. For example, News has you picking the headline of an article while you select a picture for Social Media. It's important to keep an eye on what type of answer you should give, or it just might not make sense.
Monster Seeking Monster is Jackbox Party Pack 4's most ambitious game as well as it's most entertaining. You're invited to six spooky nights of speed dating where each round allows you to send 4 messages to any of the other participants, whether you want to spread them out or cash them all in on one player is up to you. At the end of messaging, you pick who you'd like to go on a date with. If the other player also picked you then you both earn a heart, rejection, on the other hand, leads to no reward. An additional twist is the secret monster power everyone has that only the player is aware of. Some of these powers incentivize you to go on dates more often, like earning double hearts on a second date, some will even change the aim of the game. The Ghost monster has the ability to steal the hearts of those who reject them, for those players rejection is now something to work towards. Starting from the second round, the player in the lead will have their monster power revealed. Players need to employ more strategy with each passing turn to avoid known abilities. This game will have you constantly second-guessing those you message and trying your chances to get hearts on a date, without falling prey to an unknown power. Out of all the games included in The Jackbox Party Pack 4, Monster Seeking Monster does the most to remove the TV from the equation. In fact, it's almost closer to a tabletop game than a video game.
In Bracketeering players are given a category such as "Video Game Characters that most need a day off" and are then asked to enter in suggestions. Once those entries are jumbled around, players move through the bracket voting on who they believe deserves to win the category. In further rounds, players will find that the winning criteria will change multiple times as they get closer to the finals. It's in this second step that you begin to lose the purpose of voting for the answer you entered. When you believed that Doomguy is the character who needs a day off and by the second round has changed to "Video Game Character who works best in a team", then you'll either vote for Doomguy for your own points or might pick another character who fits the role better. The first way undermines the competition for the sake of the whole game, but if you truly vote for who you believe during these changes, then what's the point of going for points at all? It's at this point where the game isn't too sure of what it wants to be. Regardless of this confusion, the highlight of the game is reading through everyone's initial answers or hearing loud protesting when you vote for the funniest answer instead of your friend's correct one. While still an extremely entertaining game you'll find yourself coming back to this one less than other games included in Jackbox Party Pack 4.
Civic Doodle fills out the final spot on the roster. A game of fast-paced drawing where players are required to add onto a base image until you either end up with a glorious piece of art or someone decides to just scribble over it. The image that you start with might be something simple like a spiral in the center of the screen. Two players are then picked to add to it, everyone gets to vote and two players then add onto the winner's drawing. This process repeats until everyone has had a chance to show off the extent of their artistic skills.
This game rewards quickness not only with deciding on something to add but also your speed and skill drawing it. This combination of skills and the small canvas of a mobile phone makes it one of the harder titles to take part in. It is also the game most likely to leave no one proud of their end result. Moving on from the 1v1 drawings, the second round has all players participating, which makes it a bit more enjoyable to see where everyone's mind went with different possibilities. Games that previously included drawing like Drawful had their charm because it was never about the best drawing, just one that makes sense, Civic Doodle falls short in this pack the same way that Tee K.O did in the previous pack by pitting these drawings head to head.
As usual with The Jackbox Party Pack games, there are a couple of stand out games and ones that don't quite hit the mark. With the fierce competition of a new Fibbage and new titles like Surviving the Internet and Monster Seeking Monster, it's Bracketeering and Civic Doodle that come out at the bottom. To say that they're at the bottom isn't quite doing them justice though as Jackbox Games have surely raised the bar with this collection of games. This is a great addition to anyone's go-to list of games to bring out when having a group of friends or family over.
A review code for The Jackbox Party Pack 4 was provided to TechRaptor by the developer and reviewed on Xbox One.
The strongest collection of Jackbox titles they have ever released. With instant classics in the form of Monster Seeking Monster and Survive The Internet, even Bracketeering and Civic Doodle will leave your mouth sore from laughing too much.
- Return Of A Classic
- New Innovative Games
- Play The Player, Not The TV
- Bracketeering Loses Direction
- Poor Artists Beware