Jackbox Party Pack 3 is a collection of five party games, think board games without the boards. If it weren’t digital, they’re the kind you’d find in a store nearby Apples to Apples or the decidedly more adult version, Cards Against Humanity. Players need an internet connection and a touchscreen to play, so that smartphone most people carry will work just fine. The games are a blast to play with friends, and you can open the door to literally thousands of participants through Twitch streaming. From Quiplash 2 to Tee K.O., every part of this collection is uniquely challenging and will bring out competitiveness you may not be used to seeing.
Quiplash was a big hit previously, and has returned in an improved version. The premise of Quiplash is that players are shown a prompt and are asked to fill out a response. You’ll see things like “What the raccoons digging in your garbage say about you” and are allowed to write whatever you want. The idea is to give joke answers to the prompts, but being funny is not a requirement. Each round involves voting on your favorite answers to the prompts you weren’t given. A final round gives everybody the same prompt before the vote.
All of the five games support Twitch, and the viewers can get in on the action even if they aren’t one of the players. Quiplash 2 supports up to 10,000 participating audience members! Audience members can vote on their favorite responses, which awards points to players and can determine the final outcome. They can also throw out their own answers to prompts, which will appear on the screen to give players a chance to use them. One additional benefit to the Twitch integration is that you don’t have to try to do the organizing yourself if you want to play a round of Quiplash. You can always just browse Twitch for any active streamers and join in on their games.
The biggest improvement to this sequel is the option to create custom games. No longer do you have to rely on a pre-built supply of prompts. You can make your own and save them for later. You could create a game night themed to whatever you want, or involve everybody and pool ideas together live. The downside to custom games is that, of course, the in-game host can’t read the created prompts. This is a necessary trade-off however, and the create-a-game function will greatly increase Quiplash’s longevity.
Trivia Murder Party
The shining star of this Party Pack is definitely Trivia Murder Party. Just look at that title, it tells you what to expect. Players compete by answering trivia, but the host is trying to kill everybody! If you miss a question you are subjected to the Killing Floor. There the unfortunate participants compete for their lives in minigames that feature math, spelling, and finger cutting. One of the mini-games has players select a chalice to drink from in a lineup that invokes Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The only one that isn’t fun is the random chance Wheel of Death, which is just a 1 in 6 chance of surviving that removes player knowledge from the equation.
Eliminated players still answer the remaining questions, and can actually claim ultimate victory. The final round involves a race to the exit. If the ghost players overtake the human player, they can take over the last living body and win the game. This is a great way to make sure even eliminated players have reason to stick around and be engaged.
Polish is oozing from every facet of Trivia Murder Party. The credit roll features all the losing players and reason for their death, like “death by dice.” There’s even an original theme song. If you start up another round with the same players, anybody who died in the last game will not be a “Jr.,” with further deaths increasing that to “III,” “IV,” etc. The title screen itself gets a sequel, like Trivia Murder Party 4, and includes a subtitle like you’d see on a long running horror franchise. No detail was overlooked, and it pays off.
The host specifically is great. He gives a knock-off Saw movie villain voice feel, but with the Jackbox humor everybody expects. The morbid comedy consistently provides laugh out loud lines. I particularly liked the host rhetorically asking himself “What’s the most evil thing I’ve ever done?” only for it to be a setup to a punchline about ordering food delivery during The Purge. His genuine disgust when everybody answers a question correctly, meaning nobody dies, never got old.
This is the one you really need that touch screen for. Players are tasked with drawing designs for t-shirts. Afterwards, they’re asked for t-shirt slogans. The drawings and slogans are randomly mixed and each player gets an assortment to choose from to enter into the gauntlet. There, everybody votes on their favorite design and slogan combination. A final round pits all gauntlet winners against each other until an ultimate champion is determined.
Drawing anything skillfully is nearly impossible using your finger on a phone, so you aren’t disadvantaged by not being an artist. The designs are totally open ended, so your imagination is allowed to run wild, but you can ask for suggestions if you need a kickstart. Suggestions can also be made from participating audience members, who also vote on their favorite shirts.
Tee K.O. is really only as fun as you make it. There’s no prompting from the host, though suggestions are available, and the banter isn’t very entertaining. It’s just you and your thoughts. Because of that, I found this game can range wildly in terms of fun, and more than any other game in the pack, needs a rowdy group to get the most out of it.
Players are asked to respond to prompts in various manners, except one person. The faker is just asked to respond without being given the same information. For example, everybody may see on their phone, “point to the shortest person in the room.” The faker’s screen would simply say “point to any person in the room.” All players then vote on who they think the faker is. A decision is made by a majority vote, but points are awarded for individual votes.
Though it can technically be played through Twitch, it’s not practical. You need to be able to see your competition to both view their responses to the questions and get a read on whether or not they are “fakin’ it.” The game itself even tells you as much, outright telling you to sit in a semicircle or in a pair of rows facing each other.
Fakin’ It works best with a group of friends that know each other well. If you see a prompt and know how a friend would answer it, that gives you a distinct advantage compared to playing with people you do not know. Ultimately I think this will have more niche appeal but could be a favorite for many. If you prefer playing in person rather than online, this is the game for you.
Guesspionage asks a player to guess what percentage of people answered a survey in a specific manner. The other players then get the chance to say if the real answer is higher or lower than the guessed number. It’s sort of like a combination of Family Feud and Card Sharks. In the final round everybody tries to choose the top three answers to a question, like “What Halloween candy is an adult most likely to steal from their child?”
It’s the most mundane offering in the pack. Even the more lighthearted questions feel a bit stiff when the entire idea is to surround them in statistics. Now don’t get me wrong, I like Guesspionage, but it’s my least favorite game in the pack. The jokes here missed more often than other games, and the hook just isn’t as entertaining. The gameplay interactions involve more waiting, since only one player is allowed to guess the number for each question. I didn’t get a chance to try myself, but I imagine Guesspionage plays better with a group locally. You could be shouting out your own answers to the questions and trading friendly jabs when your friends miss the mark widely.
I’ve encounter more than my fair share of trolls online, so the censorship option is always turned on. This allows me to remove some of the downright vile comments people make just so they can see them on a stream. Censoring an answer also blocks that person’s name and removes their ability to earn points for the rest of the game. I do wish their was a less nuclear, more case-by-case option, but ultimately I know answers that are so heinous I’d remove them from the stream are probably not an accident.
As the host I can also choose to hide the room code from the screen, which allows me to hand it out privately to ensure specific people are able to participate before opening it up to the masses. I can also require a Twitch ID for viewers to participate, which in theory makes people ever so slightly less anonymous and more accountable for what they write.
All of the games save for Trivia Murder Party have “family friendly” options that remove the more adult questions and prompts that can be seen throughout the Party Pack. All of these options give streamers greater control over their streams, which is very handy to have when dealing with random people on the internet. Even if you wouldn’t use any of them yourself, it’s always nice to have extra options available.
Not all of the games in this collection knock it out of the park, but as a whole, Jackbox Party Pack 3 sets a new high bar for party games. You don’t even need to gather friends locally in order to play four of the five titles, so your parties can easily be virtual. The trademark Jackbox humor is as strong as ever, and each game is fun in it’s own unique ways. Stat junkies may prefer Guesspionage, trivia nuts will love Trivia Murder Party, and Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity fans will get a kick out of Quiplash 2. If you prefer playing with people in person you might choose Fakin’ It, and the more artsy people will enjoy Tee K.O. There’s something for everyone in Jackbox Party Pack 3, the best party game ever made.