The Jackbox Party Pack 6 Review

November 11, 2019
REVIEWS
PS4
Also on: PC, Xbox One, Switch

You may count the years by way of your annual dentist appointment or MOT, but I tend to mark off the passing of another circuit of the sun via the release of the reliably familiar Jackbox Party Pack. As ever, you’ll use your mobile phone as a controller and the more people you can gather around your console or PC to join in, the more fun you’re likely to have. Now onto its sixth instalment, is this bundle of five games a match in quality for last year’s excellent compendium? Let’s unwrap and dive in!


Trivia Murder Party 2


The sequel to the quirky quiz game from Jackbox Party Pack 3 feels like it’s had a lot of time spent on it compared to the rest of the games in this bundle. Almost every Jackbox game has a decent level of polish even if some of them are utter garbage (I still don’t understand the first pack’s Word Spud), but TMP 2 in particular looks and sounds the business. 

It’s a shame, then, that other than some new minigames and a slightly different monologue from the host, very little has changed under the hood. The premise is identical: answer the question correctly or you’ll get sent to a Killing Room. Each room has a fiendish challenge for you to undertake, such as writing down as many dictated words as possible, doing super quick maths puzzles or scratching off squares on a scratchcard. If you’re successful in your endeavour — or at least, more successful than anyone else who failed the initial question and had to take the Killing Room challenge with you — you’ll be spared. Otherwise, you’ll be “killed” and have to complete the rest of the game as a ghost.


Fear not, though. Assuming that at least one person manages to survive to the last level, all players will get to compete regardless of their current mortality status. Answering questions correctly in the final round will push you closer to the exit, while allowing ghosts to catch up with living participants. If a ghost catches a living player, they’ll steal their life force. This is academic, however; all you need to do is be the person to get the most correct answers to escape. Fall too far behind in the final round and you’ll be permanently kicked out.

It’s a fun enough blast of trivia, although some of the minigames aren’t explained well — for instance, we spent the scratchcard game looking at our phones as we tried to avoid revealing skulls, not realising that we should have been looking at the screen to see if we’d been successful. Furthermore, the balance feels a little rubber-bandy at times. If all players get killed early on, one of them is picked randomly to be resurrected. Unlike other trivia games in the series like You Don’t Know Jack, this one feels a bit too chaotic to be truly satisfying.


Joke Boat


If you’ve ever fancied your chances as a stand-up comedian, Joke Boat may scratch your itch. After asking players to come up with a selection of nouns, verbs and so on, it provides each with a selection of setups to jokes using those words which they must then complete with something hilarious enough that other people would vote for. “How many Instagrammers does it take to screw in a light bulb?” was one example, paired off against a competing joke and punchline from a second player. Get enough votes from people and watch your score skyrocket — but like many of Jackbox’s recent games you’re told up front who is the author, which means that more competitive players may deliberately vote for the underdog regardless of their comedic qualities.

Joke Boat is certainly fun to play, but relies on all of the group being quick-witted enough to make it enjoyable. You can perform your joke yourself, or just let it be shown on screen for others to read. If you can’t think on your feet and get flustered when you’re asked to make people laugh, you might find this one to be a bit of a chore. 



Dictionarium


This one felt like Joke Boat, but without the humour. Players are given a nonsense word and then asked to provide a definition for it which is then voted on. The second round sees players create a synonym for the winning definition from round one. 


The result is then a brand new word and definition, both created by players. You’re then asked to make a sentence using that word in the final round. If it sounds complicated, it isn’t. If it sounds like it might be fun, it probably won’t be. Dictionarium is a game that feels like the epitome of filler, with one positive being that it is incredibly short, and another being that it is still miles better than Word Spud.



Push The Button


Imagine if the party game Werewolf was set in space and only lasted a fraction of the time — that’s basically Push The Button. But instead of players using a combination of cunning, NLP and hard bluffing to disguise the fact they are aliens hidden among humans, they are instead given tasks to complete. 

Each task — for instance, drawing something on your phone — is slightly altered for aliens. Humans may be asked to draw a tiger, while aliens may be asked to draw a lion; the “correct” task is then displayed on screen alongside the player offerings, resulting in a lot of heavy justifications as to why exactly there are no stripes on the cat that they’ve just drawn. 


The more players there are, the more aliens you need to root out from your group. Be warned though, there is a time limit to find the intruders. Once you think you know who the alien players are you can accuse them, which bundles them into an airlock ready for you to, yes, push the button and eject them into space. 

However, it’s not quite as simple as that. Later stages of the game let aliens interfere with proceedings by sending the “alien” prompt to a human’s phone: cue lots of accusations, shouting and finger-pointing. Push The Button is far more enjoyable with a bigger group, as the early stages of the game made it a little too easy to locate the alien when there were only four of us. Still, as an alternative take on other bluffing party games, it’s a decent romp. 


Role Models


Finally, there’s Role Models. This one’s definitely a game to play with close friends rather than at a party with people you don’t know. It’s the gaming equivalent of a Buzzfeed survey: you know, the kind of thing that asks you what character from Friends you are. Questions are chucked at the group which have multiple answers and each person is dragged into the answer that you think most applies to them. The more people agree with your “role” for a question, the more points they all get. 


At the end of the game you’re given an overall role based on the answers you’ve provided to date and the boxes your other teammates have bundled you into. 

While it’s fun to see what your friends think of you, the game doesn’t really feel cohesive. Even after playing this through a couple of times, the scoring system still felt like a confusing mess. Some of the group enjoyed this more than the other games due to its slightly more personal nature, but I felt it was a little lightweight to be something I’d return to in a hurry.


Overall


Jackbox Party Pack 6
is a disappointing entry in a series which generally has at least two decent games in a bundle. Trivia Murder Party 2 and Push the Button are the highlights here, but given one of them is basically the same as an earlier pack game and one is a more convoluted take on a standard party deduction game, it’s hard to recommend this to seasoned Jackboxers. New players might get a few enjoyable evenings out of the varied titles, but I’d recommend picking one of the odd-numbered entries if you haven’t experienced the joy of phone-based party games before. 

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6
An uneven selection of party titles which, while polished, doesn’t have a killer game in its bundle to make it a must-have purchase.
Rob Kershaw

I've been gaming since the days of the Amstrad. Huge RPG fan. Planescape: Torment tops my list, but if a game tells a good story, I'm interested. Absolutely not a fanboy of any specific console or PC - the proof is in the gaming pudding. Also, I like cake.