Game & Read Reviews: Jackbox Party Pack 3

There is little that can surpass the fun of a well designed party game played with friends. The current beacon of the party game genre is Jackbox games, formerly Jellyvision. The Chicago game developer has been making fun party games since 1993 with the You Don’t Know Jack trivia series. In more recent years, Jackbox has expanded outside of trivia with their Jackbox Party Packs 1 & 2. Erin and I have been playing Party Pack 2 for about a year now and we were both excited to see what was waiting for us in Party Pack 3 which includes five games: Quiplash 2, Trivia Murder Party, Guesspionage, Fakin’ It, and Tee K.O.. The Jackbox Party Pack 3 is available on PS4, XboxOne, Amazon Fire, Google Play, PC, and Mac for $24.99.

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Let’s breakdown each game included in Party Pack 3.

Quiplash 2: This is the third version of Quiplash made by Jackbox with a stand alone version and the Quiplash XL that was included in Party Pack 2. If you already have access to a version of Quiplash, this probably won’t be a selling point, but this version does make some improvements from the last iteration. In Quiplash, players are asked to respond to questions and prompts with short humorous quips. They are then put up against an opponent quip and all the other players vote on which they like more. If you like Apples to Apples and Cards Against Humanity, this is a game that will feel very familiar, but since it isn’t tethered to cards to give responses, the humor comes from playing to the crowd. This version of Quiplash added a create your own prompt mode that lets a group assemble the questions they’ll respond to before playing. These prompt sets can be saved for later uses. Additionally, Quiplash 2 added a random response button for those who are having a hard time thinking of a quip. It gives a seemingly random and possibly unrelated answer, but the player only get half of the points. Additionally, they switched up the final round. Final prompts won’t always be in the standard format and instead of giving each player 3 votes to spread around players now award medals to their favorite responses. This certainly adds some more weight to the final round which tended to be my least favorite part of the previous Quiplash.

Quiplash remains an endlessly fun party game for groups of 4 to 10,000. If you don’t have a version already, Jackbox 3 great selection of games becomes even better, and for those who have played before, Quiplash 2 offers some handy improvements without changing the core game.

Trivia Murder Party: Jackbox began around trivia with the long running series of You Don’t Know Jack games. This history made Party Pack 2 somewhat disappointing as it lacked a dedicated trivia game. However, Jackbox has made up for it by including Trivia Murder Party in Party Pack 3. Eschewing the standard game show style of question asking, TMP frames the quiz in a fight to survive with a Saw-like killer tormenting his victims with esoteric trivia and macabre challenges to stay alive. Miss a question and you risk getting murdered. Answer almost everything correctly and you may still be beaten to the exit by another player, and there can only be one survivor. TMP runs the line of actually creepy and pretty funny with odd commentary from your murderous host and trivia that could kill you.

I love this game. I am almost always a fan of trivia games, but this is the first time I have been able to appreciate an unrelated theme attached to my love of pointless knowledge. TMP adds a level of stress to answering questions that I didn’t think I could feel in a trivia video game. The final round is a race between the players to escape the murderers house before every one else, with those not in first place getting more opportunities to move forward and overtake the leader. The single player version is fun as well, pitting you in a battle of wits directly against the killer. The style of questions vary enough to avoid being repetitive and overall, TMP is a wonderful Trivia game that adds diversity to the genre and Party Pack 3.

Guesspionage: What if the family feud got its survey data by tapping phones and reading other people’s emails? That combination makes for an interesting party game in Guesspionage. Players take turns guessing the percentage response on an either or question. For instance, “What percentage of people prefer Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter?” The player then slides a percentage and the other players guess if they are above or below the actual percentage. It’s a simple game and it is difficult to intuit the answers. I was lucky enough to get one question right on the dot, but I doubt that is something that will happen very often.

Of all the games in Party Pack 3, Guesspionage may be the least interesting. It certainly fits in well with the group, but it probably couldn’t stand on its own outside of a collection. It’s not a bad game, but it falls a little flat considering the amount of involvement the other games have.

Fakin’ It: Bluffing seems to have become a fairly common theme in party games. There a lot of board games out there based around secret identities and finding the impostor. I’m happy to say that Jackbox has created a fun video game alternative to the bluffing game. In Fakin’ It commands are sent to all the players but the faker. Players may have to raise their hand if they’ve ever pooped in the woods or point at the person who reads the most. The faker has to play along and keep the scent off of their tail for a few rounds.

Fakin’ It is a fun game, but like all bluffing games it relies on a group that can lie well. Additionally, the game requires that everyone hide their phone screens from each other as spying someone’s screen could ruin the round. These aren’t hard tasks to overcome, but I have always felt like bluffing games stand on wobbly legs and require a lot more of the players to be fun. That being said, I really enjoyed playing Fakin’ It and think it is a great change of pace from wordplay and trivia to social interactions off of the screen.

Tee K.O.: Finally we have come to the drawing game. Each Party Pack has had a drawing game on it, taking full advantage of the smart phones we carry around. Tee K.O. is a bit of an odd game in that it doesn’t feel very competitive. Players begin by making several drawings, they then create stand alone slogans. These drawings and slogans are then sent to other players and everyone submits their favorite combination. These combos then go head to head in the voting area until one emerges victorious. What makes this game feel different from other Jackbox drawing games is that you have little control in the matter. Yeah, you have to create content that someone may use, but smashing two things together feels a little inconsequential. The result is several funny and awful t-shirt designs, like a robot saying “Just Spew It”, but it doesn’t sync well with my competitive tendencies. Like Guesspionage, I figure I will mainly use Tee K.O. to change up the pace a little during a long evening of drinks and party games.

Overall: Party Pack 3 is a great compilation of games. It blends genre and activity to create a fun evening for a small or large groups of friends. Some games could probably stand on their own while others are more of an add-on experience, but it is this blend of game that makes for a good compilation. As a final note, I will say that these games dive headfirst into their themes. Trivia Murder Party pushes the murder theme to its farcical extreme while Fakin’ It looks oddly midcentury with its character design and spy-like villain, the faker. Party Pack 3 is an incredibly fun and memorable game and certainly worth the time and money for those who want to change up hanging out with friends. Give it a try and I doubt you’ll regret it.

-Peter

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