Just as sure as you can count on a new Call of Duty every calendar year, such is the same with Jackbox Party Packs, as they have been annually releasing new, interesting games for several years now. In a year such as this, where it is just as important to keep your distance as it is to remain together in a sense, games like JBPP7 can help bridge the gap. Towards the start of summer this year, we used Jackbox titles as a way to have some quarantine fun with our family, hosting a stream and chatting through discord with everyone as we played across three different states. It was a great way to make things feel a bit normal, with sprinkles of our chaotic humor on top. While things are still very much not normal, getting back on the review wagon after a long hiatus with JBPP7 being the returning project also helps with the normalcy, and has been a great distraction from the loud world outside. Thanks to some help from my family and friends, here are my thoughts and the latest bundle of joy from Jackbox Games.
As with their previous titles, we will be looking at the five bundled games, which include: Quiplash 3, The Devils and the Details, Champ’d Up, Talking Points, and Blather ‘Round.
An old favorite returns once more! The basic premise of this title, if unfamiliar, is to out quip your opponent. Prompts are given prior to the start of the round, and it is up to you to come up with what will hopefully be deemed as the funniest answer. Answers battle it out head to head, one quip versus one quip, while those whose answers are not featured yet get to cast votes for the ones currently on screen. This series has been one of our favorites since the original launched as a standalone title. This time around, the animations are claymation style which fits the goofy appeal. As always, some great host narrations and prompts are present. You can also create your own prompts, as well as play what seems to be a rotation of developer created prompt sets with different themes (like Halloween for instance). A major change we noticed was the final round, which has you answer a multi-tiered prompt, which also gets put against another’s answers. This diverts from the usual round 3 endgame which would typically see everyone’s prompts against each other, with each player awarding 3 medals to their favorites in the appropriate order. I did NOT like the new 3rd round though, especially in an odd numbered group, as someone will have to face the computer, which (humor dependent) can be easy to catch. It just doesn’t stand out as a finale in my eyes, taking a step back for the series from where I am standing. Regardless of that, I still say it is a safe and easily accessible option for most groups, and still leads to loads of laughs.
The Devils and the Details:
Looking to play on the same team for once? Try out The Devils in the Details, which puts players into an unorthodox family of devils trying to blend in with human society. To do that, they need to do mundane tasks like wash the car, order that birthday cake, help with homework, and whatever else we meat sacks routinely do with our little spare time. Players need to work through three days of hell on earth to mirror the perfect family, accomplishing tasks from completing a to-do list that is ever changing with timed solo and group tasks. Certain tasks are for certain family roles, like parents, teens, or children, and will add to the variety if you switch up your role between sessions. There is a week-long group goal that needs very specific tasks done over the course of the three days to help with the final grade, while accomplishing your regular tasks will help your family complete the week without getting yelled at by the big man downstairs. You can also do selfish deeds, which help with your personal score (which you earn by completing tasks in general). If you are looking to “win”, this is how you technically do it from a solo standpoint, but if too many of these tasks are done by players, it can lead to an overall failure. Thankfully, if family members notice during someone doing a selfish task, you can interject to try and stop them.
This game requires a lot of vocal communication, which made it all the more hectic but enjoyable. There is something about the anxious awareness of it all that made it quite the experience honestly. Shouting which task you were taking on or pleading for help makes this one of the most actively engaging titles yet, so make sure everyone has the right mindset going into it. It has lots of well written humor that takes jabs at how simple life can be at times, and it is all presented in a great package. This also takes your phone as a controller concept to the next level, with many actions like rotations and swiping taking over from the traditional drawing or typing we are used to. I did notice that, with our game of four players, it was the most lag I have felt in one of their titles at times. Delays were pretty consistent, with tasks not starting or completing without me seeing the final page at times. But, nothing that kept us from having fun! Having a graded finale and rotating weekly objectives truly makes the group effort worth it.
Every pack has to have its own drawing game, right? Champ’d Up ticks that box for JBPP7, bringing the next generation of drawing mayhem to our phone screens. The concept this time around is that you draw these underdog-esque mascots and have them face another for supreme victory. Like Quiplash before it, two drawings square off against each other while the players not currently involved on screen get to vote for the best. Things get extra interesting in this one when you get to see an opponent’s drawing and specifically draw a rival to face it, and even later you can swap out between your mascots depending on the “theme” of the later round battles. These features keep the round system more interesting, and definitely give you a little more to go on in terms of inspiration. I found this one to be more approachable as a drawing game, much like Tee K.O, as the battle system and absurdity of some drawings can really make it a riot. Groups that are not too keen on their artistic abilities may still find some fun here, but they really have to have some desire to physically create something during the session. Also, killer songs and avatars to be found in this one.
Talking Points is a unique entry here. If you ever had to present a PowerPoint at school and thought “this would be a hell of a lot more fun if I had to awkwardly talk about NSFW topics in front of my family” well are you in for a treat. The point of this game is to give presentations, based off topics someone else has suggested, using pictures you have never seen. One player presents, one player is elected the assistant, and everyone else gets to up vote or down vote for the entire length of the presentation. Score should be based on the effectiveness of the presenter. I say should because I feel like this is where most will get confused on the whole point of the game. You can give or take score consistently during the whole presentation, so unless everyone takes it seriously and attempts to play fairly, I do not think this aspect will translate. I’m sure certain groups will get their monies worth here, but for the usual people I play with, I feel like the concept is a little bit lost in translation. It is more of a slightly embarrassing display of events, as opposed to a competitive game. This seemed to be the weak showing of this pack. I do not think it is bad, but I think it is just misrepresented. If anything, maybe it will help with those digital presentations that many have had to quickly get used to.
After trying this game out, I can see this one being popular with a larger group. The concept here is kind of like Catchphrase if you are familiar. During each round, each player has a pop culture phrase that they need to help the others guess before the time is up during their turn. No words or movements should be said by the “it” player, as they are given bits and pieces of clues to assemble on screen in a sort of Mad Libs fashion. For instance, I had a list of descriptors to piece together a clue for Captain Jack Sparrow, something along the lines of “ This _____ is very _____”, to which I gathered “This MAN is very WET” from the available pieces. Answers are typed by the remaining players, and read aloud by a digital reader. Once the right answer is typed, that player and the host receive their points. This is a great casual game that requires quick thinking and hectic typing. No limits on answers, just time! Two minutes per round, so put as many relevant clues out there as you can. This is a satisfying game to win, similar to shouting answers out at the gameshows on TV and seeing your answer be correct.
I have yet to play Party Pack that I have not liked, and that trend remains true. While the third is probably still my favorite, I think some of the new comers here do exceptionally well. Devils is a refreshing change of pace, one that I think be played entirely without doing selfish acts and still be rewarding. Champ’d Up makes the drawing experience a little more casual while retaining the charm and hilarity of just plain bad art. Blather ‘Round does a great job of being casually approachable for a full group, as when has it never been hard to shout answers at dumb clues (Charades, anyone?) I think Talking Points is a good idea, but not that great in practice, and I also was sad to see the final round of Quiplash 3 turn out to be a step back in the series. But the issues are minor as always, outweighed by the always great presentation visually and audibly, the fantastic writing, and the creativeness of the developers. Here is to four more years of Party Packs.
*Note: A copy of the title was provided for the purposes of the review
Final Score: 8/10
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