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Jackbox Party Pack 3 Review – A Mixed Bag

Jackbox Party Pack 3 title screen

There’s something infectious about party games. If done right, they effortlessly fill an empty space with noise or, on the other hand, can quickly prove to be a nuisance; swiftly replaced by a few games of outdoor table tennis. Jackbox Games has commanded the party game genre over the last few years with the addictive entertainment of Fibbage, Drawful and Quiplash.

The company’s Party Pack franchise has consistently maintained one or two front runners in each iteration – followed by a few weaker titles that only amount to a couple of rounds of giggles. Jackbox Party Pack 3 is much of the same, but caters for larger gatherings of gamers rather than providing a spread of entries for both co-operative and competitive experiences.

Quiplash 2

Quiplash is a game that gives all players involved a free license to type the most hilarious response possible relating to a question or statement. If you’re in a room full of like-minded people, the responses are sure to be even funnier and some should never be repeated in public – EVER.

The structure of Quiplash 2 remains largely unchanged from both Quiplash XL and the original Quiplash before it. All players must provide a series of answers, where two responses to the same question/statement go head-to-head for hilarity and wit. For instance, when responding to “Why is the word ‘poo’ in shampoo?”, you may put “because ‘Shamshit’ didn’t sell”.

Jackbox Party Pack 3 Quiplash 2

After three rounds of cleverly placed puns and euphemisms, Quiplash 2’s Final Round mixes up these skills in segments called Word Lash or Comic Lash. In Word Lash, players must respond to a statement by filling in empty spaces – similar to Fibbage, only you’ll be choosing the funniest option instead of the more logical one. These might be “Come up with a new hilarious sitcom with the word TROUT in its title”, or “Come up with a classic novel with the word MULE in the title”. Whether it’s Everybody Loves Trout or The Man’s Mule-sical Farts, there are endless hilarious possibilities.

Quiplash’s other final round, Comic Lash, gets players to fill in speech bubbles for characters in a comic strip. These images can vary from somebody getting stick in a traffic jam to observing something at a bus stop, but are a great way to switch up that last game and get those creative juices flowing; Quiplash 2 doesn’t do a lot differently, but does enough to justify a spot in Party Pack 3.

Trivia Murder Party

In a deadly quiz show where you must match wits with a trivia-obsessed killer, Trivia Murder party is first cab off the rank for Jackbox’s new ventures. This riotous bout of fun, and probably my favourite game of the lot, is packed with trivia where incorrect answers trigger a sudden death mini-games called The Killing Floor.

Here, you might be faced with quick-fire math questions against the clock or other players, like memorising the pattern of a blood-splattered square grid, or drinking from a selection of cups – Indiana Jones-style – that have been tainted with poison. Winning means survival but losing turns you into a ghost for a large remainder of the game.

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Sometimes getting the correct answer is out of your hands – literally. There’s a short mini-game where the bellowing host asks you to cut off one of your fingers and doing so will represent an answer slot when a question appears. Sometimes you get lucky but, other times, the correct answer will be in the ‘finger’ you removed. It’s completely demoralising, as you’re powerless to select it, and leads to a quick trip to The Killing Floor.

It’s not until there’s only one surviving player left – when you reach the final round – that everything starts to get as tense and hectic as you’d expect. The surviving player must reach the Exit before the ghosts – trying to outrun the darkness – snatch their body and claim the lead for themselves.

All players, alive or dead, are bombarded with trivia questions (with a heavy American influence, I might add) from start to finish. In many instances, there is more than one correct answer and players advance depending on the accuracy of their responses. While the leader always has a maximum of two answers to choose from, the ghosts can select from three choices – dangling a constant stream of progression and the possibility of a close finish. Everybody, regardless of an early death in the game or not, has a chance to win; it’s fantastic multiplayer level design.

Guesspionage

Probably the weakest entry in this Jackbox Games bundle, Guesspionage gets players to answer questions based on activities of probability in the United States. “What percentage of people remain friends with someone they knew under the age of 10?,” and “What percentage of people have eaten something off the floor after 10 seconds of dropping it?” are just a few quirky queries you’ll come across in this game (it gets A LOT weirder).

While submitting your guess, using the left sick to change the amount, other players will soon be deciding whether they think the actual answer is higher or lower than your guesstimate. Those closer to the actual answer will gain points and those further away from it are awarded with lower ones. It’s a simple system and only deviates from this predictable structure when entering the  Last Round, where everyone tries to pick the three most popular answers from a particular topic.

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In fact, Guesspionage’s structure is so simple that it results in an uninspiring and, quite frankly, bland portion of this Jackbox bundle. There’s a lack of interactivity in comparison to Guesspionage’s superiors and the absence of any diversity in the puzzles results in a game that only needed a maximum of two playthroughs from myself and some friends.

The only real energy that’s created from a game of Guesspionage is when either yourself or one of your friends are close enough – or lucky enough – to guess the correct percentage on a topic.

Tee K.O.

Tee K.O. is a more in-depth response to the Drawful series of games. Three to eight players draw pictures from a palette of coloured inks and canvases and craft captions ready for print on a selection of t-shirts. The catch is that some drawings and captions come from both yourself and other players – which may or may not be a perfect match. Mixing and matching both is a real treat and presented some of the best slapstick moments I had with the entirety of Party Pack 3. Across three rounds, a ‘Best of Round’ shirt is chosen and will ultimately face off against other shirts and finalists in the subsequent rounds.

There may be a few artists amongst your group of wannabe Da Vincis but, ultimately, it’s the slogans that make the game. For every nonsensical or overtly rude picture, there never failed to be a fantastic line underneath to back it up.

But Tee K.O. falters in a few key areas. Immediately, my friends and I had to think on our feet two to three times per round – that’s a maximum of nine quick doodles in total. The requirements shorten with more players but, for smaller groups, Tee K.O. overstays its welcome.

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There’s also Tee K.O.’s disappointing end game. It finishes on an extremely flat note, with a muddled description of the victor. Is the winner decided by most liked drawings or captions? It’s never truly explained and it’s very confusing to see your drawing labelled the overall winner with someone else’s name next to it (the creator of the slogan). I would’ve preferred the Comic Lash/Word Lash approach from Quiplash, where players must write a saying underneath a picture or craft a drawing to accommodate a seemingly harmless statement or phrase.

Fakin’ It

There are lots of laughs to be had with Fakin’ It. Each round a player is designated as the Faker and must blend in while all the remaining players receive actual questions related to the topic. The Faker has no idea what the question is and must take a punt at answering the topic from the outset or quickly observe everyone else’s answers and copy/mimic them. Unfortunately, the rules of Fakin’ It aren’t delivered with that much clarity but, with a few casual rounds under my belt, it eventually became clear.

Fakin’ It is a game that prides itself on seeing every other player’s physical actions and reactions, so it’s highly recommended for all parties to be in the same room. The layout of this party game is stressful and diverse, where Hands of Truth is usually the opening round. Players must either raise or lower their hand in response to a particular question – seen on their device of choice – while the Faker must conceal their identity by imitating someone else’s physical action or opt for their own one.

Being the Faker is ‘tear your hair out’ stressful, especially if the question and your impromptu answer cause people to briefly change their opinion of you. A brief intermission gives players time to allot points to who they think is the Faker and it’s at this point you get to see whether your confidence has paid off….or not. Surviving as the Faker for two rounds (3-4 players) or three rounds (5-6 players) is not only satisfying but will net you a substantial amount of points.

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There are additional mini-games called You Gotta Point, which involves players to point at one another – for example,”Which player do you think you could beat up in a fight?”; Face Value, where expressions are unveiled to reflect certain scenarios – “Give us your dance-floor face”; Number Pressure gets you to use your fingers as digits for an answer – “How many times do you go to the gym per week?”. It’s a real mish-mash of latent hilarity, surpassing Quiplash 2, but plays second fiddle to Trivia Murder Party.

However, Fakin’ It became a difficult game to play with my small group of buddies, due to the lack of variation when the Faker was selected. Out of two entire games, a player was only selected as the Faker for one round – so there’s an obvious inconsistency on that front. Fakin’ It is also a party game only best suited for larger groups, due to the Faker being against the odds with three and four-player support; eight-player support seems more logical.

Despite the impressive creation of Trivia Murder Party and the great concept of Fakin’ It, Jackbox Party Pack 3 does not meet the heights of its predecessor. Fibbage and Drawful are still the main series draws of Jackbox Games, while Trivia Murder Party has more than earned a follow-up title in future instalments. There are more than a few disappointments dotted throughout Party Pack 3, but playing with four or five friends will help make up for it.

Large Party Required

Big gatherings are essential to get the most out of Jackbox Games' third bundle of party games.

7.4
Overall:
7.4

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