As the state of current events continues to keep us stuck at home on the weekends, more and more party games have been bubbling to the surface of mainstream success, offering casual audiences momentary breaks from the doom-scrolling and Netflix rabbit holes of everyday life. But for every Fall Guys or Among Us to captivate players overnight, Jackbox and their ever-growing library of party titles continues to defend the throne — and their latest installment to come to Nintendo Switch, The Jackbox Party Pack 7, is no exception.
For those unfamiliar, Jackbox Games forgo traditional video games controllers in favor of smartphones. You simply visit their website on your preferred mobile browser and, after entering a quick room code, you answer prompts on your smart-device to interact with the game. There aren’t any dice to roll or buttons to memorize. Initially finding success with this format in 2014’s Fibbage, the accessibility in tandem with the rise of smartphone culture spelled a winning combination for Jackbox; one they would capitalize on later that year with the release of the first Jackbox Party Pack, a bundle of different party games in one, all utilizing that smart device style gameplay albeit in slightly different ways.
Considering we’re up to the seventh installment in 2020, it’s safe to assume the Party Packs have proven lucrative. What’s truly surprisingly is that the You Don’t Know Jack veterans don’t appear to be running out of steam any time soon, as Party Pack 7 has shaped up to be one of their best. This one adds five new titles to add to your virtual board game shelf, each with a unique energy and sense of humor to spice up your next socially distanced shindig.
Blather Round features players trying to guess the topic another player is describing. The only clues they have however, are sentence fragments pieced together to as closely describe the topic as possible. For example, if a player’s word is “Lion King” one of the clues given could be something like [a furry father][meets a tragic fate]. It’s essentially playing Charades with fridge magnets, and while the group I played with all agreed it needed its difficulty curve adjusted, we also agreed that the frustration of piecing together sentences made for an excellent critical thinking challenge — one that would be absolute riot with the right audience.
Champ’d Up is a drawing challenge cut from the same cloth as previous Jackbox titles like Drawful and Tee KO’s T-Shirts. You’re given a title, such as “Lord of the Gym Locker-room” and asked to quickly sketch a character you think could carry said title. You are then shown another player’s character and asked to draw what you think would be a suitable competitor. You’re not shown other the player’s title though, so you only have the sketch itself to reference. Finally, the title is revealed, and the two champions are pitted against each other for the rest of the group to vote on for a winner. Your mileage on this one may vary depending on how comfortable your group is with quickly drawing things, but it could be argued that half the fun is that “telephone” aspect of having to interpret someone else’s chicken scratch and gawking at the end result.
Talking Points adapts a popular improv game where players must turn a handful of random Powerpoint slides into a cohesive presentation, with absolutely no time to prepare. Jackbox adds a competitive element into the mix, where the speaker on deck is the one who picks out images for you, and speeches are scored by other players as they’re given. Not everyone in my group took to improv so easily, so the speeches varied wildly in quality from round to round. This premise, however simple, does arguably give it the most potential for eliciting massive audience reactions. There’s a reason this game was a staple of community college acting classes for decades before breaking into the mainstream.
The Devils and the Details is the most complex of the five, but is also hands down the most hilarious. It’s a cooperative game about a sitcom family of demons living in a human suburb. Rounds are presented as days of the week. Each day you’re given a list of chores to complete with your family, and each task on the list is worth a certain amount of points depending on difficulty. Chores range from simple tapping games to collaborating with other players on recipes to looking up numbers in a virtual phonebook. However, there are only so many hours in a day, so you must work fast to keep your household up to human standards. Among the chores listed are also “selfish tasks” which offer a massive boost to your individual score, at the cost of your family’s overall score, and you’re punished if another player catches you doing something selfish.
The comparisons to Among Us here are hard to ignore. This game is in many ways just Among Us except the imposter stuff isn’t limited to one person. I will say that the similarities are most likely coincidental, as Jackbox games are developed pretty much on a yearly rotation and Among Us didn’t reach its viral success until a month before the Party Pack 7’s launch. It definitely attracts a similar crowd with the co-op-based gameplay, but instead the objective being social deduction and finding the odd one out, it’s this tricky risk versus reward system where you’re constantly balancing what tasks are worth doing, what ones are worth letting go, and is it worth trying your luck on the selfish ones.
The final and most anticipated title of the pack is Quiplash 3. The original was actually a standalone release from Jackbox that exploded in popularity back in 2015, and the cap to the trilogy is the beefiest edition yet. Quiplash pits two players against each other in a battle of short writing prompts, and the rest of the group votes for their favorite responses to win points and glory. The third installment features more questions than ever, a beautiful Claymation aesthetic, the return of community created prompts, and an all new third round event called Thriplash, in which each prompt requires three separate answers. As it’s already an established Jackbox classic at this point, it’s no surprise that Quiplash 3 delivers. The new art style is an absolute joy to look at, and the refined community feature means you could theoretically bust this out at hundreds of parties and it’d never get old. This is honestly a running theme of most Jackbox games; the concepts are there but it’s always the group you’re with that brings these games to life.
Overall the package contains enough new stuff to keep veterans of the franchise entertained and there’s plenty to enjoy here. Some games will be more fun with different groups of people, but this is one of the most solid releases in the series yet.
The Jackbox Party Pack 7 Review
- Graphics - 8/108/10
- Sound - 7/107/10
- Gameplay - 9/109/10
- Lasting Appeal - 9/109/10
Final Thoughts: EXCELLENT
Usually with these kinds of releases, it’s common to see three or four really fun games and then one or two just okay ones, but I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of filler here. Since 2014, it seems Jackbox really has homed in on what makes a good party game. Whether your strong suit is writing, drawing, performing, or listening — whether you’re killing time with friends or streaming to thousands — Jackbox Party Pack 7 has something for the social gamer in all of us.
Evan Roode is a full time journalism student and amateur game historian. His favorite song from Guitar Hero III was “Even Flow”.