REVIEW: The Jackbox Party Pack 7

Oct
26

REVIEW: The Jackbox Party Pack 7

The best yet.

Released: Steam
Type: Singleplayer
Genre: Casual
Developer: Jackbox Games, Inc.
Publisher: Jackbox Games, Inc.
Release date: 15 Oct, 2020

Overview

I go a long way with the Jackbox games, not because I played them since their inception but because I learned about them (and subsequently fell in love) when I played it over Discord with a group of friends after we grabbed a bundle of them off Humble Bundle. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to review all the Jackbox games that have released, starting with 5 (my first review here), 6 and now the 7th pack.

So with my experience with the Jackbox packs, how is this 7th entry?

Awesome, the best I reviewed for SoQ yet and likely my absolute favorite pack of the Jackbox series. Due to the game being a set of 5 party games, there isn’t much to talk about story, graphics (which differ from game to game and are all great!) or even gameplay, really – as such, this review will be quite different and mostly focus on each game and rate their fun factor.

Quiplash 3

A fan favorite returns finer than ever – Quiplash 3 ports a very fresh and interesting “claymation” style of graphics, instead of the previous game’s more 2D cartoony style. The core game is still the same, you’re given a prompt to complete (in case of a statement) or to answer (in case it’s a question) and then you write literally anything, be it serious or not.

Obviously it’s more fun when it’s not serious as your submission is pitted against the one someone else in the party posted for the same prompt – the rest of the players in the party then vote for their favorite (usually the most hilarious from my experience) – the most votes your prompt gets, the more points you get!

Consisting of 3 rounds (where points are doubled in the second round and tripled in the third), your main goal is getting the most cumulative points by the end of the match and thus winning the game. If your answer gets 100% of the votes, you’ll get the infamous QUIPLASH! where a nice amount of extra points are given to you (to the embarrassment of your opponent who gets nothing). While the first and second rounds play the same, just with different prompts, the third is a single prompt where you must give 3 separate answers at the same time – one example would be “3 things that you shouldn’t do when angry” and thus your quest for being funny and witty begins.

Despite its almost legendary status among digital party games (Quiplash can even be bought separately for cheaper), Quiplash 3 is a fun and good mini-game completely overshadowed by the remaining ones and not because of its lack of quality.

The Devils and the Details

This one is one of my favorites but about half my friends weren’t big fans of it so I can see it being very polarizing among parties. The general consensus is that it’s very tense and stressful and while some may enjoy that, I can understand why others prefer a more laid back and relaxed minigame (more to come!).

The Devils and the Details (TDAD for short from now on) is a cooperation based task simulator at the core. You are a family of devils (2 parents and a few teens and children where each player takes the role of one of the members) that is trying to infiltrate the human world and must do human-style tasks to fit in and complete your weekly goal (weeks span over 3 days as is typical with Jackbox games – always going for 3 rounds per match). The weekly goal is a big, week-long task that has subtasks that should be completed every day for massive score and an eventual perfect rating.

The host of the lobby can pick the main task at the start (participate in a suburb contest, avoid an asteroid strike, and other “big deal” style tasks) while the smaller tasks will just randomly pop throughout each day. Some tasks give small amounts of points but are short, others give a lot of points and take longer and you even have cooperative tasks where they give a good amount of points but require more than 1 player to work on it and communicate (such as use a map to give directions so the driving player can reach the destination or finding a lost object in various spots and so on). All these points are useful to fulfill a daily goal meter – rack up enough points and your day is a success otherwise you’re screwed, so get to doing as many tasks as fast as possible!

There are, however, selfish tasks available too which will give you a heap of points at the cost of not helping the family’s goal score and it also increases a selfish meter – once it triggers, a catastrophe occurs and everyone must work together to solve it as fast as possible as it continuously subtracts a lot of the family’s score during the time you’re solving that catastrophic task.

Solving tasks in itself is quite easy – you can tap your screen, swipe in any direction or rotate/scrub your screen (I played this using the mobile app but it also works on your computer screen – all the Jackbox minigames run through a browser) so the complexity is low but the tension is high due to the necessity to fulfill a lot of tasks during the round/day. The problem is bigger since a lot of the tasks are cooperative – this leads to HUGE amounts of parallel conversations during the round as we were talking to specific players so everything became a screaming mess – but hilarious nonetheless.

By the end of the game, a grade is given (I swear you must be Gods to get anything above a B) and the player with most score is given a special reward – a Best Devil Mug. The necessity of scoring high for your team but also for yourself to win is what makes the game shine – the split between working as a team and being selfish for points. The tension rises further due to the constant screaming and communication among players that at times becomes hilariously confusing to the point where everyone stop, breathe, and pace themselves during conversations or it’s nigh impossible to understand anything. While I love this tension and messy gameplay – to the point I consider TDAD one of my favorite new modes in all the Jackbox games – a lot of folks may prefer a more laid back mode where creativity is rewarded over stressful communication and furious interaction with your screen.

Champ’d up!

Those who like Tee-K.O in Jackbox Party Pack 3 will feel right at home with Champ’d Up. Instead of designing T-Shirts, you’ll design fighters (more like wrestlers, honestly), according to a championship (the tutorial suggests the Champion of Cuteness so you must draw the cutest thing you can possibly think of so you can beat your opponent’s challenger). That character is sent to another player where he must draw the challenger/underdog, who’s competing for the championship.

Creativity will run wild in your mind as you try to create the best possible champion you can imagine – the results are frequently hilarious and there wasn’t a round we weren’t all wheezing like idiots are the countless memes and ideas we created.

After the first fight, round 2 presents the tag team matches: you’ll create another champion and have a challenger your character created and fight them – but after the first combat, you can tag out your fighter and replace with one you created in the previous round for a second fight – in hopes you can get an even more dominant win or have a comeback from the previous loss.

But how do they fight, really?

The way most encounters work between players in the Jackbox games – votes! The remaining players will observe the fight and vote on their favorite fighter (the more adequate it is to the Championship’s theme, the more likely are people going to vote for it), the one with most votes will win the fight – the same applies to the tag-team fights.

Champ’d Up is one of my favorite new modes in all the series and it’s definitely one of the stars of this pack alongside The Devils and the Details and the final minigame. But up next, it’s presentation time…

Talking Points

Similar to Joke Boat in Pack 6 and especially similar to Pack 5’s Patently Stupid (one of my favorites of that pack), Talking Points is one of the presentation-style games of the Jackbox series and is a very competent rival to Patently Stupid as the best of the bunch I’ve played.

Talking Points starts by asking each player to complete a presentation theme with any words and once everyone generates a theme, those themes will be presented to the players to pick their theme.

With the theme picked, you’ll have to then improvise and present that theme you picked to everyone else with the help of a sidekick (random other player in your party). The presentation is done through a linear sequence of text and images you can’t change and since the shown text is random and you must integrate it in your talk, it can lead to some hilarious improvisation situations.

I mentioned a sidekick though, what’s the usefulness? Basically, everyone gets to be someone’s sidekick at least once and based on how well the presenter did – they’ll also get a heap of points to their score. The sidekick is the person that picks the images that will be shown during the presentation’s slides and those images MUST be referenced during the talk so the sidekick has the big dilemma to either pick good images that fit the (already random and funny) theme to help the presentation or screw the presenter by giving really random images in order to see how they improvise through their talk. It’s hilarious either way and it makes for some truly great moments.

How do you win, though? Through score, as with any other game; it’s different here though: during the presentation, listening players can upvote and downvote in real time during the presentation – the score will then be calculated based on the general interest throughout the presentation represented through those very same votes. At the end of all presentations – all players can create an award and give it to another player’s presentation, also giving a ton of point each – I ended up going from last to first because of the awards I got.

Overall, Talking Points is a blast, should you have a good theme and a fun party you’re comfortable talking to – not everyone is fond of the minigames that involve talking so it might not be a home run with everyone like Trivia Murder Party, Quiplash or Champ’d Up would more likely be.

THE STAR of the SHOW: Blather Round

Neck and neck with Champ’d Up for the best game in this 7th pack is Blather Round – because of how little I thought of it, it surprised me how much me and my friends enjoyed this one so I’m giving it the crown of the pack.

Blather Round is literally charades by creating sentences using the game’s sentence generator to describe whatever thing you picked – from Tom Hanks to 1982’s The Thing or even Bubble Wrap, I haven’t seen a single repeated word to guess in the countless hours I played this game and it’s fun every time trying to create sentences based on the given prompts.

Starting the round trying to guess a person and the best prompt you can come up with being is “They’re a living individual”. It’s hilarious and head-scratching in the best way possible – you can add new sentences very frequently and even base some prompts on given answers.

For instance – if you’re to describe Catwoman and someone closely answers Batman – you can create a prompt such as “They would be friends with Batman” or “It’s a lot like Batman”, giving the hint that they’re in the same universe, for instance. It’s not the funniest game in the pack, not even close, but I can safely say it’s the most consistently FUN game we’ve played in this pack – it’s always fun and tense trying to guess what the heck the other person is trying to describe and then facepalm once you didn’t guess something phenomenally described but nobody thought of it. It’s the pure definition of both “party-game” and “fun” and thus, my absolute favorite of the pack.

Conclusion

Another year, another Jackbox pack and this one is my highest regarded on SoQ yet. Probably my new all-time favorite and I can’t recommend it enough – it’s finally a pack that didn’t have a weak-link game and for that reason (on top of the countless times I was breathless laughing while playing with friends), I can fully recommend this 7th pack to anyone willing to play some party-games and have the people to do that – you can also find folks over on discord or the steam forums in case you still want to give it a shot alone!

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