Jackbox Party Pack 3 has arrived at last with four new party games, and one improved old favorite. Is it worth opening the box with your family for the holiday season?
Developer: Jackbox Games
Publisher: Jackbox Games
Platforms: Steam (version reviewed), Xbox One, PS4
Release Date: October 18th, 2016
Jackbox Games is back with an early present just in time for the beginning of holiday festivities. After the great success of Jackbox Party Packs 1 and 2, Jackbox Party Pack 3 is ready to be unboxed with four brand new multiplayer party games, and one updated returning title from a previous pack.
The formula and style will be very familiar to those who enjoyed Jackbox Games’ past offerings: Jackbox Party Pack 3 contains five games playable by between 1-8 players via phone, tablet, or laptop. While the game itself remains centered on the console or PC, players use their mobile devices to input answers, words, drawings, or other play-related information as required by each game. This setup makes Jackbox Party Packs a great staple for gatherings, especially with guests more comfortable with board games than video games.
Every game in this pack is well-polished with the snarky, over-the-top aesthetic that Jackbox is known for. Tee K.O. had amazing art. Trivia Murder Party was, at times, jarringly scary. My friends and I laughed at the background videos in Guesspionage and the quips of Schmitty, host of Quiplash. If you’ve loved the style of past Jackbox games, Party Pack 3 will not disappoint.
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All games in the Jackbox Party Pack 3 include a family-friendly setting to filter out adult content, of which there is plenty if you play with the filter off. Several of the games also support up to 10,000 audience members, online or local, beyond those playing on the couch. Audience members can provide additional inputs depending on the game.
While it’s cool to bring friends in via the audience and streamers will certainly have a blast with this feature, I will forever lament the lack of actual online play for Jackbox Party Pack 3. A dedicated multiplayer game without full functionality from a distance, even if all players own the game, just hurts in 2016.
Still, I recognize that this is not the creature Jackbox Party Pack 3 was meant to be; one of the games is actually impossible if you’re not playing in person. These games are designed for a group of close friends, beers in hand, in the same room or a gathering of family members of all ages enjoying a game together. To that end, each of the five games in Jackbox Party Pack 3 plays a key role in building what may be the pinnacle of party entertainment:
We’ll start with the returning champion, Quiplash 2. Those who partook in Jackbox Party Pack 2 will recognize the title, which has undergone only slight changes from its original rendition. It didn’t need much help–Quiplash was one of the strongest games in Party Pack 2, and the slight tweaks have served to strengthen an already excellent title.
Quiplash 2 takes place over three rounds where each player receives two “fill in the blank” or question prompts, which they can answer with whatever they like within a character limit. A new button addition will insert a random answer for you if you’re stumped–a welcome addition when the timer puts the pressure on.
Fast-paced, short games and a new button to help those who are stumped help keep things fun and fresh.
Your response will go head to head with another player’s who also had the same question, and the remaining players will vote on which response they enjoy the most. Points are awarded according to votes and doubled in the second round. The final round has all players answering the same question and awarding Bronze, Silver, and Gold to their three favorite responses. There’s a new twist added for the sequel: along with the usual text prompts, the final round may incorporate other twists such as comics or prompts that require a certain word. It’s a refreshing bit of variety, especially for those familiar with the game.
Another new twist is the ability to create your own games with up to 64 user-written prompts. You and anyone else in the room with you can enter their own prompts, and then run a game using only those. Of course, this means you have to trust your friends to be interesting, but you can save favorite banks of prompts for use later in case you make a set that just clicks.
Quiplash 2 is a riot, with well-written prompts and a goofy host. Fast-paced, short games and a new button to help those who are stumped help keep things fun and fresh. While it felt a bit weaker simply due to repetition from a prior party pack, that’s not a knock against Quiplash. It’s a testament to how much fun the other four games in the pack are.
Trivia Murder Party
You and your friends have been kidnapped by a crazed killer looking to play a game, and only one of you will make it out of his domain alive. Trivia Murder Party throws random trivia questions at the group, then forces anyone who answers incorrectly to compete on the Killing Floor to determine who lives and who dies. Challenges are varied and include drawings, answering questions, doing simple math problems, rock paper scissors, or simply spinning a wheel and hoping you get lucky. When only one player is left, they rush to the exit pursued by the ghosts of everyone else, with everyone answering more trivia to move forward.
You never know what you’ll get in Trivia Murder Party, and that’s part of the fun. Even those who are terrible at trivia games can still win if they have enough luck and wit on the Killing Floor, and both those challenges and the trivia questions themselves draw from such an enormous library that you’re guaranteed at least a few “Yes! I can do this!” moments. Little touches such as a Killing Floor challenge that requires you to “cut off a finger” (thereby removing one answer from all trivia questions, and sometimes the right one!) and asking other players to vote on the worst answer to an opinionated question, rather than the best, throw delightful curveballs.
If you’re not a trivia buff, it’s hard to like trivia games. But you’re sure to love Trivia Murder Party…and maybe get a little scared by it, too!
Guesspionage revolves around statistics. Each character will be asked to determine what percentage of people globally responded to a survey question in a certain way. Then, the remaining players must respond with whether they think the correct number is higher or lower than the first person’s guess, with “much higher” and “much lower” options added in the second round. Points are awarded to the guesser for being close, and to everyone else if they were right. And…that’s it.
Guesspionage is definitely the weakest game in the pack. It doesn’t fuel heart-racing competition or has you holding your sides laughing. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t enjoyable in its own way. The questions are surprisingly entertaining, and will easily spark discussions and good-natured arguments about why people answered the way they did. You won’t ignore Guesspionage if you’re playing Jackbox Party Pack 3, you just may not spend as much time with it as you do the other games.
If you’re worried that you’ll spend hours with Jackbox Party Pack 3 staring at your phone rather than your friends’ faces, look no further than Fakin’ It for a solution. Like the other games in this pack, it takes place in three rounds, with a designated “faker” in each round. Everyone but the faker will receive a prompt on their device to perform a certain physical action that corresponds to their experience. They may have to raise their hands if they’ve ever stolen someone’s lunch, point to the person in the room who is the worst dancer, make a face like they are holding a baby, or hold up a number of fingers how many parking tickets they’ve received.
Fakin’ It can easily take up an entire night on its own.
The faker knows the type of physical action (making a face, pointing, etc. kind of ) but doesn’t know what the prompt is, and must do his or her best to blend in. After the prompt is done, everyone must vote on who they think is a faker, with only a vote of four to one able to reveal the culprit. Points are awarded for discovering fakers, being right when everyone else was wrong, or eluding capture for multiple rounds as the faker.
Fakin’ It combines hilarious prompts with the natural fun of quizzing you about your friends. How many different colleges has your friend gone to? Can you come up with a convincing justification for why you’re claiming your spouse gives the worst hugs? Fakin’ It can easily take up an entire night on its own–Jackbox provides the prompts, then lets the natural goofiness of friends giving each other crap handle the rest.
Finally, we have the game I was most skeptical about: Tee K.O. It gets off to a slow start the first time you play. Everyone buries their heads in their devices and creates three different drawings of anything at all (with a Suggestion button if you get stuck). There are four background colors to choose from, a handful of colors, and an undo button that feels like a mercy if you’ve ever played Drawful. After the art is done, everyone will then enter as many “slogans” as possible within a time limit. You’ll add another drawing and more slogans midway through the game, too.
The meat of the game comes after when you are given a random selection of your friends’ art and slogans to combine into T-shirts, which then are pitted against their combinations and voted on by everyone else. Two qualifying rounds lead to a final round where the best T-shirts of the first two rounds go head to head. Points are awarded to players for their art, slogans, or combinations winning rounds, but the points and “winner” designation are fairly trivial when just about everyone in the room had a hand in creating what you see on screen.
While this sounds weird and maybe stupid, in practice, Tee K.O. was my favorite game in the pack, especially once everyone’s gotten the hang of it. Weird drawings with limited tools, bad captions, strange suggestions, and a random mix of all of them result in hilariously weird combinations that catch you off guard in just the right way. My group often made shirts that were accidentally perfect in terms of image/caption pairing.
And if you really like one of your shirts, you can order it from Jackbox at the end of the game for $16…if you want a shirt that looks like it was drawn in MS Paint. Which, after a round of Tee K.O., you very well might!
A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.