“…this game is a must have for your library!”
No series of games has perhaps been as well-placed to fill the social void of extended worldwide lockdowns and restrictions as Jackbox Games’ series of witty, creative and outlandish Party Packs. For both my friends and my family, these games have been a lifeline for laughter and good company which video calls alone could not have provided on anywhere near the same level. Accessible and fortunately well-suited to the medium of streaming, anyone can play the Jackbox minigames with little-to-no prior knowledge of the wider video games platform. From these very same perspectives, The Jackbox Party Pack 7 has arrived right on cue.
Party Pack 7 is, would you believe it, the 7th instalment of the Jackbox Party Pack series. Combining both re-evaluated favourites with brand new approaches to amateur comedy, Party Pack 7 once again offers five very varied but equally entertaining minigames for players to engage with. If the series is new to you, the games are played using a mobile device or browser, with a central screen (or stream) providing the central platform for players to interact with. Only one copy of the core game is needed to play, making the Party Packs consistently good value for money given the high player counts they offer. It has always been easy to get setup and started, and now more than ever the game is more accessible to different types of players.
Before delving into the individual games themselves, it is well worth noting the exceptional development of accessibility features which Party Pack 6, and now by extension Party Pack 7, has seen added to the games. Everything from your standard subtitles and dyslexic-friendly approaches to gameplay all the way to text-to-speech elements to help players join the game with ease has been considered, with a wide wealth of settings on offer to avoid questions/inputs which could hinder some players’ enjoyment. Jackbox Games are truly at the forefront of accessibility in gaming in this way, and they should be commended as such. With that crucial point now having been noted, lets jump into the games!
Quiplash is the only returning minigame for The Jackbox Party Pack 7. A comedic game where players respond to an on-screen prompt, Quiplash is a fan favourite experience and one of the simplest to pick up and play for new participants. Having responded to on-screen prompts, players vote on the most apt and/or entertaining responses provided with points being awarded accordingly. If a player’s submission is the exclusive recipient of all of the votes, they score bonus points for achieving a “Quiplash”. Equally, if players are stuck for ideas, they can employ the Safety Quip feature in the game to create a lower-scoring response on their behalf. As the game develops, the points awarded are doubled into Round 2. Round 3 then provides a variant on the gameplay, by asking players to give a longer, more specified response to a broader topic or question.
Quiplash is as entertaining as your friends are, and has a lot less direction and hand-holding than some other titles. Compared to previous instalments, though, I felt as though Quiplash 3 had lost some of the sub-series’ mojo. Whilst still funny, the unevolved format felt a little too old-school to me. Even more than that, though, the claymation-themed background animations were distracting and, to some players, disturbing. The entertainment value still exists on paper, but amongst my parties of players we felt more inclined to returning to Quiplash 2 if we felt the inclination to play the Quiplash format in the future.
The Devil and the Details
The Devil and the Details is the real wildcard game in Party Pack 7. There has consistently been one oddball minigame in the mix throughout the series, and here this is the game that is a little bit of something new and different to the “norm”. The Devil and the Details is a co-op game in which players take on different roles within a family of devils. The devils attempt to complete human-style tasks in order to fit in as a group, with an overarching story goal to complete all the while. The twist in the game, however, is that players are also seeking to be the best devil amongst the bunch. Whilst some will work together as a family to complete tasks, these sneaky devils may attempt to gain points just for themselves, but also risk exposing the family to the unsuspecting humans who live amongst them. This will start emergencies which can significantly impair the family’s success. Fail to reach the designated threshold for points as a group, and you will all fail despite any individual performances.
If that description felt complex to read, well that’s because to begin with the game is a tricky one. The level of crosstalk which ensues as family members seek assistance from peers to complete tasks can be chaotic, and the frequency with which someone’s selfish actions sabotage the group can be a point of frustration, confusion and persistent failure. Nevertheless, once the concept and gameplay of the game becomes apparent following your first few attempts, the game is hilarious fun to play. The chaos element never ceases to exist, but the enjoyment factor becomes greater with each, more experienced attempt at victory. The Devil and the Details is not the strongest game in the pack, not by any stretch, but with friends who are willingly to at least partially co-operate, this little title can be a lot of silly fun.
Champ’d Up is the to-be-expected drawing game of Party Pack 7. This game, however, is perhaps the best drawing game in Jackbox to-date. Controversial as that may be to some fans of the game, Champ’d Up owes its success to effectively being the Quiplash of drawing games; outshining the namesake of its partial inspiration within the Party Pack 7 line-up. In Champ’d Up, players must draw a competitor who they believe can achieve victory in a pre-determined competition. Perhaps they will be the Champion of Awkward Moments, or the Champion of being the subject of a certain player’s Daydreams. Whatever the challenge may be, the fun factor is as open and entertaining as the creativity of players; and no legitimate artistic skill is necessary. Once a challenger has been created and named, an opponent is tasked with creating a competitor to face-off for the given title. The catch is that the opponent does not know what the competition is; they simply see the first player’s creation and have to guess what type of character they might need to beat them at their own game.
What transpires in Champ’d Up is hilarious, often nonsensical face-offs which frequently see players vote for the funniest drawing rather than the more legitimate competitor in each match. As a result, the laughs truly never stop and the screenshots run wild! In the second round, call-backs are king, with players able to sub in a previous creation to win a second, mystery challenge which each creation competes to win. If anything, every game of Champ’d Up is over too soon. This minigame alone has rescued my friends and I from some of the darker days of this complex year and we owe a lot of our joy to the outcomes of our own disturbed minds within its brief, 20 minute timeframe.
Talking Points is the game that will make some players nervous in this mix, requiring you to bring out your best on-the-spot presentation abilities. Those who don’t like being in front of an audience, especially on the fly, may feel a naturally aversion to give this game a go, but I strongly encourage you try it. You see, as is standard in Jackbox games, Talking Points doesn’t take itself too seriously. Initially, players generate silly presentation topics for their peers to choose from. Then, player by player, everyone must present that topic to the group. Whilst you are trying to give your presentation, though, an “assistant” is choosing your slides of both images and text, and you must adapt your direction on the fly. Doing well isn’t as important as engaging your onlookers in general in Talking Points, with points coming from both continued engagement and how positive that engagement is. Whilst it may be tempting to sabotage as an assistant for fun, the assistant does earn an amount equal to half of the presenter’s points at the end of the presentation too, so there is incentive to help your friends out.
As soon as everyone has looked silly playing, the nerves dropped away in our group and we loved this game from the pack. As with most of the Jackbox games through time, the hilarity that comes out of the game is soon more important and interesting than the points, and this game brings laughs by the bucket load. Once the presentations are over, you can name and give and award of your choosing to a presentation you enjoyed, highlighting the fact that the players are all friends here. It is a frankly silly game but perhaps the most brilliant brand new and unique idea in this collection (closely competing for that title with the final game in the pack). Don’t let your nerves get the better of you; you have to try Talking Points at least once just to see how fun presentations can be!
The Jackbox Party Pack would not be complete without a new word game to enjoy, and Blather Round is one of the best in any pack to-date. Players are given a word in this game, and using only a selection of vague statements they must try and give clues to their compatriots so that they might guess the term in question. The words can be people, places or “things” in general, and whilst players are competing for points all of the answers are public. This means that some pseudo-teamwork is necessary and active whether you like it or not, and the clue-giving player can draw on their friends’ guesses as being either close or totally wrong to help out. Helpful players get points, too, so working together does merit reward.H
Blather Round is a simple game, and fantastic fun for anyone to play. Its only limitation is its maximum of six players, as this has been one of the most popular games amongst my group of friends. Naturally, however, the audience can participate in the action too if you have more people to accommodate. We also have good fun giving silly guesses to clues; you can guess what comes up when the clue is “They have a big figure construction”, or something of the like. Blather Round feels like a board game gone digital in many ways, and it competes closely with other games to be the kind of the pack. In a small group, it almost certainly earns this title.
The consistent pattern you will have noticed throughout this review is that The Jackbox Party Pack 7 is full of hilarious games and is, on the whole, an excellent game to pick up if you are looking for fun with friends. It is easy to pick up and play, with only one copy of the game required. Even in the current world circumstances, the game can be played perfectly well over Discord with friends and truly brings people together. The accessibility features further allow for anyone to play the games, and generally simple and well-explained rules mean this aspect of the game is at its best. Party Pack 7 is up there with the best of the Jackbox games, and some might argue that it even tops them. With a little bit of everything, and with titles both new and old in the mix, this game is a must have for your library!
The Jackbox Party Pack 7 is available for $29.99 on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, Apple TV, iPad, and other major digital platforms.
For more information, visit www.jackboxgames.com
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