Jackbox Party Pack 4 review: Party quirks

Credit: Jackbox Games
Credit: Jackbox Games /

Call your friends. It’s time for another round of prompts, doodles, and laughs with Jackbox Party Pack 4. Can Jackbox keep their party-centric momentum going?

Developer: Jackbox Games
Publisher: Jackbox Games
Platforms: PC (Version reviewed), PS4, XBox One, Nintendo Switch, Apple TV, Mac, Amazon Fire
Release Date: October 17, 2017

Though I often look fondly on Nintendo’s talent for developing (or at least publishing on their platforms) fun co-op or competitive titles for evenings with fellow gaming nerds, the reality as a busy adult is that those nights are few and far between. Many of my adult friends and family members don’t game much anymore, if at all, and when mixed with those that do at evening get-togethers, throwing Mario Kart or Smash Bros into the mix tends to divide the party more than it unites it. That’s why I’m eternally grateful for the Jackbox Party Packs, including the latest rendition, Jackbox Party Pack 4.

Each Jackbox Party Pack operates more like a ridiculous board game that just so happens to be played on your TV or computer and phones than it does any video game I’ve played before, but that’s its beauty. Packs consist of five unique diversions that generally consist of some kind of prompt that players have to answer on their device of choice via text or hastily scrawled artwork. Those prompts are then combined, jumbled, or altered in various ways by players or the game itself to hilarious effect. Jackbox Party Pack 4, as usual, brings back a favorite game from previous packs (Fibbage 3) with some new bells and whistles, and adds four brand new games on top of that: Survive the Internet, Monster Seeking Monster, Bracketeering, and Civic Doodle.

jackbox party pack 4
Credit: Jackbox Games /

Games can be from anywhere from 2-16 players (it varies according to the game) and, as with other Jackbox Party Packs, can include hundreds more audience members voting or offering their own prompts or ideas to trip up the players, making it a favorite for streamers. But I’ve always found Jackbox to shine brightest as a party game, especially since the online nature of the thing allows for constantly updating, unique prompts in each title. You’ll never, ever play the same game twice or run into the trouble of a few players already knowing all the “cards in the box,” so to speak.

Unfortunately, Jackbox Party Pack 4, while still enjoyable, is the weakest of the Party Packs I’ve played so far in terms of the actual games. Fibbage 3 is the one outstanding game in the box not only because it was good in its previous incarnations, but also due to the new game mode, “Enough About You,” a title best played with folks you know very, very well. Instead of business as usual were you invent ridiculous facts and try to make others believe them, you’re asked to come up with lies about the others in the room. The specificity you can embrace with good friends, family members, or partners results in inevitable hilarity.

jackbox party pack 4
Credit: Jackbox Games /

Survive the Internet is an excellent game wrapped in the shell of an old man yelling at a cloud. The host, backdrops, and jokes all revolve around a “hello there fellow kids” approach to mocking the Internet that anyone who has actually ever used the Internet will roll their eyes at. However, the actual play of writing comments, reviews, and captions for things like news headlines or products, and then twisting your friends’ responses, works out delightfully well by the end product. Groan all you want at the cringe-worthy wrapping paper; the game inside is worth your time.

I want more unique ideas like Bomb Corp or Trivia Murder Party, even if those ideas don’t necessarily mesh well with huge amounts of players.

I cannot say the same for Monster Seeking Monster, the worst game in the pack…which is unfortunate, because it also seems to have the most distinct potential. Players are monsters disguised as humans that must try to convince the others to go on dates with them by messaging them over a limited period of time with limited messages. They then pick someone to go on a date with. If two monsters pick one another, the date happens and each party earns a “heart,” the game’s scoring system.

The trouble is that everything is heavily based on players making their own fun, and since the player identities aren’t hidden (just their secret monster powers), things get real awkward, real fast. In our play, we devolved into straight up bad, awkward pick-up lines and direct “okay pick me and I’ll pick you” exchanges. This went on for six rounds. Some of the monster powers can be great fun as they’re revealed, and manipulating this knowledge is key to victory, but without further context each round is a weird, awkward drag. I’m not sure what could have improved Monster Seeking Monster–perhaps some more direct lines/responses or more masking of who was who, but as released I have no intention of playing this game much more with anyone.

jackbox party pack 4
Credit: Jackbox Games /

After Monster Seeking Monster, I was hoping for something to immediately kick start the fun again. Bracketeering certainly took its time ramping things up. In the first round, everyone suggests an answer to a “Which is the best/worst?” type question, people place bets on winners, and we all vote, bracket-style. The first round, which teaches you how to play, is pretty dull. But the second and third rounds add blind brackets where you suggest an answer to a prompt, but the question is unknown until the bracket begins. These silly results are much more fun.

Finally, Civic Doodle, the necessary drawing game of the pack and, sadly, the least inspired Jackbox drawing game I’ve picked up. Jackbox just can’t manage to recapture the magic of Drawful no matter how hard they try. Civic Doodle is literally just that game where you keep adding on to one another’s drawings to make something progressively more silly. Everyone votes on their favorite additions, then you add more. That’s about it. It’s fun enough, just not very original.

jackbox party pack 4
Credit: Jackbox Games /

Despite my cynicism about some of the newer titles in the box, I don’t think these hangups are anywhere near enough to stop someone from picking up Jackbox Party Pack 4 if they already like the series. It’s another game on the shelf to bust out at parties, and when combined with the other three packs, you end up with a robust library of fun times for family and friends at any type of gathering–even ones with small children, as you can turn off the “dirty” suggestions at will. I would merely caution newcomers to pick up Jackbox 4 as their introduction to the games, and gently nudge them toward…well, any of the other three.

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The ideas in Jackbox 4 aren’t inherently bad–rather, some of them needed a bit more time to percolate and polish. My hope is that Jackbox Games takes their time with the inevitable Jackbox Party Pack 5 to avoid falling into the repetitive rhythm of ideas that seems to be taking over their regular releases. I want more unique ideas like Bomb Corp or Trivia Murder Party, even if those ideas don’t necessarily mesh well with huge amounts of players or audience members while Jackbox tries to appeal to streaming audiences. Right now, when I tell my non-gamer friends and family there’s a new Jackbox out, they get really excited. I’d like that trend to continue, even if it takes more time between releases.

Jackbox Games. . Jackbox Party Pack 4. 7. The Jackbox Party Pack 4, as with its predecessors, is a great crowd-pleaser at parties, family gatherings, or for online streaming. Its five offerings are, on the whole, weaker than the pack’s predecessors, but if you’re a fan of the games, don’t let that stop you from picking up this latest entry.

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.