With a whole host of PlayStation PlayLink titles coming out over the next month, the original mobile-as-a-controller party game creator, Jackbox Games, has their work cut out for them with the Jackbox Party Pack 5 – but is it a hoot a minute, or a bit of a damp squib?
As always, Jackbox Party Pack 5 is crammed with party games that hope to brighten up any dull party. In this particular pack, we’ve got the triumphant return of You Don’t Know Jack with You Don’t Know Jack: Full Stream, a simple trivia game which has players answering questions which are asked in the most bizarre ways.
Having not played the original You Don’t Know Jack, You Don’t Know Jack: Full Stream kind of dives right in leaving players a little dumbfounded on the initial playthrough. While the concept is pretty simple to understand after blundering through the first couple of questions, it’s a bit of a shock to the system seeing as other Jackbox games offer a tutorial.
You Don’t Know Jack: Full Stream has been redesigned for the 21st Century and takes on the guise of a streaming service, poking fun at services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu. It’s a nice touch but doesn’t really do a lot to enhance the gameplay. In fact, the whole streaming service UI made it look like there were multiple options available in setting up a game. Maybe that’s the joke? I don’t know.
Overall, You Don’t Know Jack: Full Stream is a nice little trivia game which doesn’t necessarily rely on people being witty or quick-thinking. Is it one of the more standout titles in Jackbox Party Pack 5? Definitely not.
Next up we’ve got Split the Room a game that’s been stylised like the Twilight Zone. In this game, players are given a hypothetical situation with a key element missing and must fill in this element in order to effectively “split the room” by having players choose different answers or solutions to the situation.
It’s definitely an interesting game and gets the old brain cogs whirring away trying to come up with a blank in order to spark different answers from the other players. Some scenarios you can simply tailor to certain players to gauge a reaction, others are more difficult making you reeeally think about the answer that could split the room.
One thing I will add is that we played through Jackbox Party Pack 5 as a trio which, as you might imagine, made Split The Room a little easy to manipulate. The game still played well, but I can say that more players would make results a lot more interesting.
Mad Verse City is next and is essentially a robot rap battle game where players create raps in order to win over the audience and become the best rap battle bot. Now, here is where I applaud Jackbox Games by making games such as this more inclusive for smaller groups by introducing a “bot” player into the game – even if its a bit of a crap player.
This game kind of blends Madlibs with random creativity. First, you’re asked to write a word, this could be a verb, noun, or something ending with “ing”. Once you’ve chosen your word (or had the game suggest a word for you) you’re given the full sentence which could be absolutely ridiculous. From here, you can write your own sentence which should rhyme with the pre-made one.
Interestingly, there are no censors as to what you can write in Mad Verse City, so if you wanted to, you could create something obscenely offensive, which is great if you’re playing with the right people, but if you’re playing with your nan, it might not go over too well.
Overall, Mad Verse City was a hilarious game which could only be more interesting if played with more people. Again, I applaud Jackbox for making accessible for smaller groups, but like with most of this pack, I’d recommend more players.
For all of the budding inventors out there, we’ve got Patently Stupid up next, a game which has players creating stupid solutions to ridiculous problems. Beginning the game players are asked to fill in the blank of a hypothetical problem, these are then shuffled among the group who are then asked to draw a solution to their given problem.
Once the masterpiece is created it needs a name and a tagline, and boom, you’re ready to present your amazing invention to the group… or if you’re a little shy, have the game’s awkward narrators present your idea for you.
Again, as this is a game designed for more people, our friendly bot player comes back – though honestly, it’s pretty pointless as the bot has no idea what the problem is, and just creates something completely random.
Patently Stupid is probably my favorite game from this party pack as it’s truly ridiculous, especially if you present your invention yourself as you can add your own humor into the mix. Again, it’d be better with more players but what can you do when you have no friends? Maybe there’s an invention for that?
Finally, probably the worst game of the lot is Zeeple Dome the first proper “game” in a Jackbox Party Pack. This game has players flinging little aliens across an arena in an attempt to destroy targets. These targets need to be hit a certain amount of time, and usually, the final blow is color-coded to a specific players’ color.
As with all Jackbox games, controls are done through a phone, tablet, or laptop by heading to the jackbox.tv website. Controlling Zeeples is done by pulling back and letting go in order to catapult your Zeeple across the arena. Due to the latency, it can be a little awkward to be precise, and eventually has players just frantically flinging their Zeeples everywhere with no real order. It’s chaotic, confusing, and frankly, no fun.
Overall, the Jackbox Party Pack 5 has some hits and some misses, but it mostly contains misses. Personally, I feel like the Jackbox Party Pack series peaked at Pack 3 and has been steadily going downhill. Sure, I enjoyed Split the Room and Patently Stupid, but games like Quiplash, Trivia Murder Party, and Bidiots from previous packs are way more entertaining.
I also struggle to see how well most of these games will translate via livestream, though it’s nice to see that Jackbox Games hasn’t gone down the route of creating games specifically around the idea of streaming.
Jackbox Party Pack 5 is a middle of the road pack. If you enjoy You Don’t Know Jack, then perhaps Full Stream will be worth it alone. However, previous entries in the Party Pack series are still better value for money and somewhat timeless.