It's that time of year again. Jackbox Games has returned with its annual collection of multiplayer party games. Society is firmly in the Zoom era, making it easier than ever to dive into a Jackbox compilation. The challenge for Jackbox Games, particularly with The Jackbox Party Pack 8, has now become to continue coming up with engaging party games. The offerings in this year's pack aim high. Some of them end up aiming too high, but this year's collection of games proves to be a reliable good time.
As is the case each year, the Jackbox Party Pack headliner is an iteration on one of its tried-and-true classics. In the case of Drawful Animate, it feels like a true evolution. Rather than run on static drawings, Animate prompts players to draw a picture twice. The two drawings will then work in conjunction to create a crude animation, sort of like a schoolkid's flipbook.
The objective is mainly for players to judge the title of the drawing sequence based on what they see. This leads to a lot of fun banter between friends and family based on the makeshift gifs playing on a loop. The premise is simple enough, but unfortunately, while Animate feels like the next logical step for the Drawful line of games, it shares the same primary issue as its predecessor. That issue being that if a person can't draw well or doesn't particularly like to draw, the fun feels limited.
Families or groups of friends with modicums of drawing talent can have a lot of fun with Drawful Animate. If you haven't moved past stick figures, this game gets old quickly.
There's another game in this pack that experiments hard, but Poll Mine is fairly bold in its own right. Its most interesting element is that it's a team game. Teams of up to four players must make their way through a cave. The only way to advance is by collecting torches, which are earned through conducted polls.
All players will be given a question and prompted to select between a series of answers. Teams must correctly guess which answers are at the top of the poll in order to collect torches or face a penalty for guessing wrong. What's fascinating about the way Poll Mine works is that while one person at a time must make a selection, teams must communicate with each other what they feel is the right answer.
Poll Mine's team element is fascinating and makes for a fun experience. However, I had to ask myself, "Would Poll Mine work just as well with individuals?" I had to say yes, because while I was fortunate enough to have a full eight-player experience, I could only imagine how much less fun the game becomes with smaller parties. I liked Poll Mine well enough, but hope that it gets tweaked for individuals if it ever comes back around in a future Jackbox Party Pack.
The Wheel of Enormous Proportions
It wouldn't be a Jackbox collection without a trivia game, but The Wheel of Enormous Proportions is a fun twist on the idea. The idea is that there's a giant wheel. Players must spin it in order to earn 20,000 points and become eligible for victory. In-between rounds at the wheel, there's a trivia portion, but these are not straightforward multiple choice questions. A majority of the questions have multiple correct answers with the exception of a few gimmick rounds. Answering the most questions correctly earns wheel slices.
Here's where the game gets fun and starts to take a Mario Party-esque turn. Players then take their wheel slices and assign them to a spot. They won't know where the other players are placing their slices, so it's possible to overlap with someone else. If the wheel lands on a shared silce, the point pot is split. On top of that, there's a Power Slice that's rewarded at the end of each trivia round. This rewards a jackpot for the player that earned it. If the wheel doesn't land on the Power Slice, additional Power Slices will appear on the wheel, upping that player's odds of getting the big points. There are only a limited number of turns per wheel session and if there isn't a winner declared, the game heads back for another trivia round.
The Wheel of Enormous Proportions' true Mario Party nature comes out once someone reaches 20,000 points. Hitting that threshhold makes that player win eligible, but they still have to spin another wheel. If that wheel lands on the winner slice, the game ends. If it lands anywhere else, the game keeps going and other players have a chance to catch up.
On the surface, this can sound confusing, but The Wheel of Enormous Proportions is easy to grasp once you're in the game. There are a lot of moving parts to this one, but they come together to create one of the more enjoyable experiences in this bundle. This is one game that the family and I will go back to more than once.
Job Job is delightful in its simplicity and every bit as much fun as the living water cooler that acts as the game's host. This game's objective involves everyone going out for a faux job interview. Over the course of the game, each player will receive a different icebreaker question for their mobile device. The answers must be at least five words, but the more words that get jotted down, the better. That's because players will then receive an interview question, but it's a question that can only be answered using a handful of words from the word pool that everyone used for their icebreaker. The words can be tapped and dragged around in any order, something that I noticed will work out better for anyone with a tablet or a PC, instead of a smaller phone screen.
From there, Job Job then becomes something similar to Quiplash. A question is displayed, followed by two player-submitted answers. The answer that gets the most votes wins. This is a game that gets more fun with more verbose answers, but the biggest problem I ran into with Job Job is that, even with the Extended Timers option enabled, the timer runs out fast. There's no margin for error when it comes to writing out an icebreaker, because if you think of a particularly witty answer after some thoughtful pondering, you might not have enough time to throw it in, at which point your answer ends up being incomplete. The same goes for the interview question round. You need substantial time to soak in the words that you have to work with, but by the time you start dragging words around, the timer quickly starts running out.
Outside of the time issue, Job Job is a total winner. The host is a hoot, the animation is hilarious, and the premise feels like a more evolved take on the old Quiplash formula. This is probably my favorite game of the bunch.
I'll say, off the bat, Weapons Drawn is going to be an acquired taste. I have to respect Jackbox Games for going the extra mile to try and create something that's more involved than its typical offerings. Unfortunately, one of the problems with Weapons Drawn is, it's a confusing game at first glance and even after a few rounds, it's still tough to make heads or tails of it.
This is another one of those games that requires some drawing skill, arguably more than Drawful Animate does. The idea is that everyone plays the role of both a murderer and a detective. Players must draw a murder weapon out of a given prompt. Each player also gets a calling card in the form of a letter taken from their username. That letter must then be drawn into the weapon, cleverly hidden enough to fool the game's other players. The objective is to successfully murder and get away with as many murders as possible.
If you're still confused, I can't blame you. This is where family game night came to a screeching halt for us, because nobody could really grasp what was happening. Worse yet, Weapons Drawn is a long game, often running for over a half hour. There are some good ideas in place here. Trying to decipher letters from within a murder weapon is a clever idea and one that I could fully get behind. However, the pacing, the clarity of the rules, the game's overall length, and the reliance on drawing skills put Weapons Drawn squarely at the bottom of our Jackbox Party Pack 8 power rankings by the end of the night.
Each of the previous Jackbox collections have had their hits and misses. The Jackbox Party Pack 8 feels like another mixed bag, but one with more ups than downs. It's easy enough to look past the games that require drawing skill and even those are worth admiring just for what Jackbox Games was aiming for with them. The other three games (Job Job, The Wheel of Enormous Proportions, and Poll Mine) are all a lot of fun in their own way and worth playing more than once whenever guests are over.
Even beyond the games themselves, it should be noted that The Jackbox Party Pack 8 still has its great accessibility features for people playing remotely or playing on Twitch. However, I want to note that for the first time, settings can actually be accessed mid-game. While that doesn't sound like a big deal, it's a godsend to be able to access certain options, like subtitles and timers, in the middle of a game instead of having to start over. That'll be the last time I have to back out of a game where I'm already winning.
The Jackbox Party Pack 8 is another winner for the team at Jackbox Games. With the team increasingly experimenting with new ideas and tweaking old ones, it's hard to envision the Jackbox train slowing down anytime soon.
This review is based on a PlayStation digital code provided by the publisher. The Jackbox Party Pack 8 will be available on Thursday, October 14 on Steam/The Epic Games Store, the PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store, Nintendo eShop, App Store, and Amazon Fire TV for $29.99. The game is rated T.
The Jackbox Party Pack 8
- Job Job is good enough to become a Jackbox staple
- The Wheel of Enormous Proportions adds fun twists to the trivia formula
- Drawful Animate feels like an evolution of the core concept
- Poll Mine has a solid concept
- Settings can now be accessed in mid-game
- Weapons Drawn feels like it runs too long
- Drawful Animate and Weapons Drawn don't really work if people can't draw
- Poll Mine feels like it would work better with individuals instead of teams
Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, The Jackbox Party Pack 8 review: Eight is enough
Haha seems like a good pack, despite the sardonic headline.