One of the best video game creators that has emerged in the past few years is Jackbox Games. Their titles are consistently well-built and fun, offering a huge amount of replayability for people playing with a group of friends or with people on Twitch. Arguably, their best release came last year with the Jackbox Party Pack 2. The package was well-rounded and more complete than the prior entry, with each game being distinctly fun in its own way. Making a follow-up of the same caliber would have been nearly impossible and while the Jackbox Party Pack 3 fails to live up the lofty standards of Party Pack 2, it still offers a lot of fun and an overall better built experience.
The base of the Jackbox Party Pack 3 will still feel familiar to players of the previous party packs. You still have five different games, some of which can be played on a Twitch or YouTube stream. These are played using any browser enabled device, so you can play with a computer, but most likely you’ll play with a phone or tablet. One new addition to this play mode is the ability to limit players who can join to only players who are logged in through Twitch. This could help out players who are on stream with random users while also promoting fellow Twitch users.
As mentioned previously, there are five titles included in this pack: Trivia Murder Party, Guesspionage, Quiplash 2, Tee K.O. and Fakin’ It. Quiplash 2 is the most straightforward, being a pretty simple expansion to the original Quiplash. Players are given two different prompts and have to come up with a witty retort. Two players will have the same prompts and their answers are displayed for the other players, and a potential audience, to decide which retort is better.
The biggest change is how the final round is graded. The “Last Lash” has all players responding to a single prompt. While previously, each player had 3 votes which could be distributed any way they saw fit, the new system allows you to rate your favorite response as a “Gold Medal” and your second favorite as a “Silver Medal.” This definitely is a more straightforward solution, as in the original Quiplash, you could vote for a single answer multiple times but the game did a poor job explaining that. Overall, it feels like a good expansion to the original Quiplash, already one of the standout Jackbox Party Pack stalwarts.
Trivia Murder Party is definitely one of the standout new titles. The premise is simple: you and your other players were kidnapped by a serial killer and forced to play a trivia game. Every time you get an answer correct, you get a bit of money. However, if you get an answer wrong you have to be “punished.” This can be as simple as choosing to lose a finger, but the trade-off is that whatever finger you lose corresponds to one of the choices for an answer. So, if you lose your index finger and the correct answer is in the first spot, you literally cannot get the answer correct.
If multiple players are punished, you have to compete against them in order to survive. This may be something as simple as trying to remember a pattern better than other players or it may offer you a ton of money if you turn in your fellow players, but if all players choose the money you all die. Death isn’t the end, however, as the final round will take the last surviving player and put them in a race against the ghosts of other players. You have to correctly identify items in a category while your other players try to do the same. Each correct answer moves your player closer to freedom, but if a ghost surpases you, they can escape. It’s funny in an extremely creepy and messed up way and while it’s still not a replacement for You Don’t Know Jack, it’s still nice to see Jackbox bring trivia games back to the Party Pack.
Guesspionage is a game of higher and lower based on internet poll statistics. You will get a prompt asking you something like “What percentage of people put ketchup on their hotdogs?” You decide on what percent of respondents you think agree with the prompt. Other players have to decide if they think the actual amount is higher or lower. All of this is done with the conceit of you being members of the NSA using the information gathered from Americans to play a game. It’s a nice little diversion that plays really well in short bursts.
Tee K.O. feels like it’s the most built out of the new games but also the most disappointing. Players have to create a series of drawings, which can take some time. They then need to build goofy sayings based on prompts from the game. Then, players are given a set of drawings and phrases and have to match them together to make the best tee shirt. These shirts then compete against each other to decide the best shirt. After one round goes through, you do it all over again.
This entire process feels far too drawn out (pun not intended). You don’t get all of the drawings and phrases created, so there might be a better shirt you could create. You can spend a lot of time drawing out a picture only to never have it used. It feels there is too much time taken with too high of a potential to never have your content used.
Fakin’ It is one of the few non-stream friendly titles and is meant to be played locally. Players are provided with a prompt and they either have to admit to it or deny it. One player, however, does not receive the prompt and has to try and fake their answer. They do not know the prompt until after it’s displayed for everyone and after they’ve either admitted or denied it. It’s like a game of “Never Have I Ever” but with bluffing. It’s a neat idea for sure, as long as you are playing locally with a large group of people. If you aren’t playing locally or with a large group of people, you’ll likely have little enjoyment from it.
The overall case surrounding these games has been given a massive upgrade, as well. Aside from the previously mentioned addition of Twitch only players, there are multiple Family Friendly modes added, as well as various new options to make sure everyone has a good experience, such as extended timers and ways to hide the room codes for each game, ensuring that if you do stream with a large group, you can limit the players to only the people you want to play with.
It still, unfortuantely, feels like Tee K.O. brings the entire experience down in a way that not many other Jackbox Party Pack games have. It’s a huge time sink and with no guarantee that your content is going to be used, it can feel like you did everything you did for nothing. If the game was shorter, it would be different, but it just takes too long to play.
However, the other games in the Jackbox Party Pack 3 are good, if not great. There’s still a really well designed quality to these games overall and they’ll offer you hours of multiplayer fun. They don’t feel quite as incredible as what was in the Jackbox Party Pack 2, feeling closer in quality to the original Jackbox Party Pack. The experience of playing is vastly improved, with a new, expanded amount of settings that makes the experience much more customizable. It may not be as good as its predecessor, but it’ll still make for an incredibly fun Saturday night.
SCORED: 7.5 out of 10
A code for The Jackbox Party Pack 3 was provided to Pixel Related for review.