Another year, another Jackbox game. The master of the party game genre is back for the fifth instalment of the Jackbox Party Pack series, and by this game's indication, the developer isn't running out of good ideas. With every game playable on phone for up to eight players, it'll be hard to find a finer title to pull out when your friends are round.
Not that Jackbox Games is afraid to stick with the classics: You Don't Know Jack, the age-old quiz game hosted by witty Cookie Masterson, returns in fine form. Parodying Netflix with a fictional streaming site called Binjpipe to keep things timely, it's as hilarious and smart as ever, even if the cryptic questions can be frustrating at times. Deciphering them is half the fun, though.
Question types constantly switch to keep things interesting. The classic DisorDat returns, making you choose between placing an item in two categories, while every quiz ends with the excellently intense Jack Attack, allowing players to rack up a huge amount of points. All in all, it's a great update on a timeless quirky quiz game formula.
Split the Room is also fantastically fun, with a horror-esque vibe that's funny at the same time. Players are given 'what if’ scenarios that they have to fill in, then these scenarios are handed out to the other players. If they succeed in splitting the room -- dividing opinion so that not everyone agrees -- they win. Additional points can also be gained for predicting which way a certain player will vote.
All of this makes for some seriously funny scenarios, while the two-phase way that the game works means that you’re not simply reading something funny, but also being forced to think deeply about it. Word-filler games like Cards Against Humanity and its endless clones can get pretty boring when you’re just waiting for someone to say something funny, so the constant engagement that Split the Room demands keeps every player entertained.
The same is also true with the undoubtable highlight of this Party Pack, Mad Verse City, a rap-themed game with a pretty simple premise that never gets old. Each player is told to come up with a word in a certain category, then a line is generated with that word at the end. They then have to come up with a line that rhymes with it. Rinse, repeat once, and everyone has their rap. Individual battles are set up and the raps are performed, with every player voting on each battle once it ends.
This is where some of the most fun can be had on the Party Pack. With lines being incredibly varied and the possibilities being endless, it’s easy for anyone to make funny raps in Mad Verse City. What’s more, the cartoon-style visuals add a cool element to an already funny game, so it’s bound to be a surefire hit at any party.
Patently Stupid is also a blast. Players have to name, draw, and describe an invention that would solve a problem that another player has written before presenting it themselves in front of everybody. After that, everyone decides how much they would fund each project, and the player with the most funds wins.
It’s a nice and simple concept that, again, has the opportunity for some great laughs. The presentation aspect especially is hugely fun, allowing players to control what goes up on screen while they talk, so everyone feels like a much less successful Steve Jobs. It’s easy enough for everyone to get into, but deep enough that it won’t get old.
It’s a shame, then, that Zeeple Dome is included as the fifth and final game, because it’s a massive drag. Its gameplay is entirely based around flinging your character into enemies and, well, that’s about it. There’s nothing fun or new about it, it becomes extremely repetitive, and the phone controls are really unresponsive. It’s an unnecessary edition, and this collection would be better without it.
Also of note is that we did encounter some bugs after playing the game for a while. Sometimes the music in Mad Verse City completely cut out, while Patently Stupid crashed halfway through. This only seemed to be an issue after two hours of continuous play, but it was still frustrating.
Bar the frustrating Zeeple Dome and a few bugs, The Jackbox Party Pack 5 is yet another fantastic collection of party games. With each game offering something different -- and Mad Verse City in particular being a highlight -- Jackbox Games has made a game that should keep you and your friends entertained for a while.