The time has come. The bloodpact has been renewed. Our sacred power tablets are charged, ready for our input. We gather to offer our creative energies unto the Jackbox, in the hopes good things stem from the ritual. Which is to say that right on time, Jackbox Games has provided a new entry in The Jackbox Party Pack series in time for various festive events. The Jackbox Party Pack 6 isn’t as legendary as, say, the original installment or third entry, but it is better than some of the recent efforts that didn’t compare to earlier works and has more games that are a better fit for the varied audiences that will undoubtedly gather together to play.
Getting Into the Game
The core concept behind The Jackbox Party Pack remains unaltered here. The Jackpack Party Pack 6 has five games: Dictionarium, Joke Boat, Push the Button, Role Models, and Trivia Murder Party 2. Each one uses a person’s phone, tablet, or browser-bearing device as a controller, while people watch the main screen for prompts. The ideal situation has all players, between six and ten of which can play each game, in the same room. However, every game has an extended timer option that lets you play the game entirely online, with other participants watching the streamed footage and playing in their homes or audience members watching the proceedings.
The core mechanics work as well as ever. Things like the optional closed captioning and the aforementioned timer extensions make it possible for more people to play. During the three sessions I hosted, no one had any problems with the Jackbox Games’ website. Everything went smoothly. Though, people do have to remember to enable the extended timers in every game before you begin playing and should have one designated “host” player as the first to log in, to ensure games proceed as planned and one person doesn’t hijack and start a session too soon.
Arranging Optimal Conditions
Each The Jackbox Party Pack comes down to how strong its minigames are. While the main peg here is the latest Trivia Murder Party installment–which is good, but no Drawful or Quiplash–it is bolstered by an array of games then generally work well regardless of the audience and how you are playing. However, two games in particular sink or swim depending on who and how many players you manage to get together.
The weakest leak in this chain is Push the Button for a number of reasons. It isn’t a bad game, to be honest. Players are on a space ship where a few members of the staff are secretly aliens. (Those who are aliens know who the others are, and they can “hack” the system to help their ally or impair other players.) You have 15 minutes to figure out who the aliens are via a series of tests, where their prompts and responses will be suspect, and eject them from the ship. If the aliens are ejected, you win. If even one human is, you lose. It’s the only game with a drawing element, which is disappointing as it is fun and works like the A Fake Artist Goes to New York board game, but also very much needs all of the four-to-ten players in the same room. Also, at least six players is recommended, so you have more choices when testing for aliens.
Others can feel more specialized. Role Models is a group where you basically sort your friends and tell them who you think they are. (Categories can include Great British Baking Show dishes or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles characters.) This game is probably the most enjoyable in the batch under the right circumstances. It’s good for between three and six people, has lots of fun categories, and lets you go ahead and try and label yourself and others. But, it also does benefit a bit from being played with a group where everyone knows everyone else. It isn’t as much of an icebreaker titles as other entries. It does have selfie support, if you want to use your device’s camera, and is otherwise delightful.
The other three The Jackbox Party Pack 6 games are your more general purpose titles. They are the icebreakers. Each one can be enjoyed locally or remotely. Having the minimum or maximum number of players is fine. Best of all, each one could be an “icebreaker” sort of title that absolutely anyone could play and enjoy, making them perfect for every sort of social gathering.
Dictionarium is the weakest one here. A game for three to eight people, you begin by creating entirely new word or slang word. Once you have that and people vote on their favorite, it expands to have a synonym of that word, then finally a sentence using that word. At the end, the two best words have Dictionarium entries made for them and added to your archive. It’s harmless fun, but doesn’t get people as engaged or laughing as much as the other two.
Joke Boat is the minigame that really flexes peoples’ creativity and can be amazing with a fantastic group of three-to-eight people. (Larger groups are more fun.) It begins like Tee K.O., with people essentially performing a Mad Libs task of supplying different sorts of words for prompts. Then, you’ll be asked to pick one of the words from that collected library and combine it with prompts to put together jokes. Given the crunch and pressure, you might end up with some real duds, but sometimes some genuinely hilarious jokes come when you least expect them.
Finally, Trivia Murder Party 2 is more Trivia Murder Party. You answer trivia questions and hopefully get the right answers so you don’t die. If you get an answer wrong, you play a minigame to try and survive. Once it gets down to one player, that person gets to make a mad dash for the exit. However, all the “ghost” players can also answer questions to try and outrun that person and be revived as the “last” survivor instead. It’s fine. It’s more reliably good than Joke Boat, but also takes fewer chances than any of the other games. It isn’t too different from the version introduced in The Jackbox Party Pack 3, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a solid trivia game.
The Jackbox Party Pack 6 isn’t going to be considered the absolute “best” entry in the series by anyone. It’s lacking a core drawing game, which is often a selling point for these collections, and Trivia Murder Party 2 doesn’t have as much cachet as something like Drawful, Fibbage, or Quiplash. But, I’d say it’s a more solid entry than both The Jackbox Party Pack 4 and 5, showing an upswing for a generally great series. It’ll be a fine pack to have stored away for all of the gatherings that will surely come as the holidays approach, though surely some people will be sad that none of the games let them really show off their drawing skills.
The Jackbox Party Pack 6 review code provided by Jackbox Games. Version 1.00 reviewed on a launch PlayStation 4 console. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.