I've been reviewing the annual Jackbox Party Packs ever since it debuted back in 2014 so let's see how this latest collection holds up.
Trivia Murder Party 2 1 to 8 players
That's right; Trivia Murder Party is back after its initial release in The Jackbox Party Pack 3. Unfortunately, not much has changed. You still answer difficult trivia questions then take part in mini-games that usually involve complete randomness only to battle your friends in the final round. I at least expected this conclusive round to be different to the first game but it isn't as you still check items that apply to a given category then move ahead the number of answers that you toggled correctly while trying to avoid the encroaching darkness. The psychotic host has a different narrative and that plus the new questions and mini-games are the only things that have changed.Trivia Murder Party 2 trailer →
Role Models 3 to 6 players
Okay, this is perhaps the lamest Jackbox game so far. You know all of those online quizzes that tell you which Super Smash Bros. character or chicken wing flavour you are? Well, this game is basically that but stretched out to the point where it's not fun or clever. You essentially choose a category then drag results to each of your friends. Next, the votes are tallied for each result and whenever there's a tie, you answer some ridiculous question so your friends can vote on who answered it more like their result. If you guess things correctly, you get points but who really cares? It's literally a random mess of a game that lacks any sort of strategy.Role Models trailer →
Joke Boat 3 to 8 players
Fortunately, Joke Boat puts things on track with its simple formula that can result in some genuine funny jokes. As each game starts, everyone types in a bunch of words then those words are used in setups. Next, you write the punch line for a setup and all of the jokes are then presented in a series of matches so you and your friends can vote on them. Although this is quite fun, it's actually very derivative of previous Jackbox games such as Quiplash and Mad Verse City. I would have rather had a more structured game like a new You Don't Know Jack as these kinds of formulas are getting a little tired at this point. Don't get me wrong; it's still fun, though.Joke Boat trailer →
Dictionarium 3 to 8 players
Dictionarium is similar to Joke Boat in that you're presented with a phrase then you have to define what it means which I guess is like that awful website Urban Dictionary. After that, you come up with a synonym for the phrase and use it in a sentence. After everyone votes, the completed definition is displayed and that's about it. Overall, it's a very simple and short game but kind of fun, especially if you can actually get a final screen together that makes some sort of sense although doing that is trickier than you'd think.Dictionarium trailer →
Push the Button 4 to 10 players
There are a ton of social deduction board games out there such as Secret Hitler, Ultimate Werewolf, and The Resistance: Avalon so it looks like Jackbox is trying to put their mark on the genre with Push the Button. You and your friends are in a space ship yet 2 people are aliens so it's up to everyone to figure out who the aliens are. If the humans think they figured out who the aliens are then they can banish them from the ship. However, if they guess wrong then the aliens win. In order to deduce who the aliens are, they're given different questions to the humans and have to verbally justify why they gave the answer that they did. However, you can do things like hack players to make their prompts change and give very generic answers in the hopes that it'll make sense in context, etc.
If this sounds like a complicated game then that's good because it definitely is. Unlike many other social deduction games, Push the Button has way too many layers so it ends up feeling a bit too complicated and you'll constantly ask questions. Was that player just hacked? Is that other player lying? How come none of these answers seem to match the prompt? Can we play something else?Push the Button trailer →
After playing this latest offering from Jackbox Games, I hope they go back to the drawing board for next year's collection. This one is full of rehashes of their previous games as well as a popular board game genre yet nothing clearly stands out.
- + More Trivia Murder Party is good
- + Joke Boat provides some good laughs
- + Dictionarium is short, simple, and fun
- - Most games aren't all that fresh plus all but 1 require at least 3 players
- - Role Models is straight weak sauce
- - Push the Button is too complicated