The final months of the year bring us colder weather, the holiday season, time with family, and a new Jackbox Party Pack. This year, its time for Jackbox Party Pack 8, featuring four new games and a sequel to the popular Drawful series. The result is one of the best party packs yet, an enjoyable collection of games that will result in a good time. Or, worst-case scenario, a lively time filled with arguments and disagreements. For some, though, that’s par for the course when it comes to a family gathering. At least you’ll be playing video games, right? Right.
Let’s take a look at each game individually.
Drawful Animate returns a classic to Jackbox Party Pack 8
Drawful is one of the best games released from the Jackbox franchise. Drawful Animate is a natural evolution as the third entry in the series. The ability to “animate” your drawing (you’ll draw two versions of your prompt) allows for easier interpretations of the prompts given to you.
Of course, by easier, I mean more insane.
For those that don’t know, here’s a quick rundown on how Drawful of works. Players are told to animate a phrase. For example, I had to draw “A goose on a rocking chair for a moose.” Yeah, good luck, me. I drew a small goose on a very large rocking chair. From there, players all attempt to guess my given prompt. This resulted in many variations of “rocking duck” or “chicken on a chair” being typed on by players. Finally, every phrase (both guesses and the actual) will appear on the screen next to my drawing. Players will attempt to guess the correct one. If they do, both me (the artist) and correct guessers earn points. If someone enters in someone else’s phrase (let’s say Tony thought my prompt was “rocking duck” and Kyle guesses that I had to draw a “rocking duck,” they earn points.
This balance of attempting to draw a ridiculous phrase while others attempt to decipher the artistic mayhem is what makes Drawful great. Adding in the animated twist makes it even better, even if the phrases are a little insane. The one drawback is that it’s easy to tell which phrase is typed in from a human versus which one is from a computer and, therefore, the original prompt. This is something that’s quickly alleviated by typing in a similar fashion to the game.
I’m thankful, too, that the animation hook in Drawful Animate isn’t a gimmick; it’s a solid addition that feels like it’s been present naturally all along.
Weapons Drawn is a game of social deduction. With art.
Weapons Drawn is a social deduction/murder mystery that involves drawing. Yes, that is as awesome, crazy, hilarious, and frustrating as it sounds.
The concept is simple: we’re guests at a ball and we’ve brought associates with us. By associates, I mean murder targets; once the power goes out, players attempt to murder associates. The party works together to guess who murdered who by investigating the murder weapons that we have drawn. Here’s the catch: each murder weapon contains a letter in that player’s name. For example, my name is Jake. Each murder weapon of mine had a variation of the letter “J.”
Sometimes, these variations were easy to hide. A capital “J” doesn’t really stand out if you know what you’re doing. A lowercase “j,” however, stood out like a sore thumb. Thankfully I can invert and shrink the size of the letter, but it was still pretty obvious.
Murder weapons are created via prompts. Some of ours ranged from “exploding volcano” (simple to draw), “the art of magic” (okay, I guess?), to “targeted earthquake” (lolwut). It works out, though, because not only is each drawing captioned (thank God), but the results are absolutely hilarious. What doesn’t work out, though, is a prompt like “exploding volcano.” It is far too easy to hide your letter under the context of drawing lava spewing from a volcano’s crater.
It’s a disappointing turn in a game that, despite a confusing start due to the rules being overexplained, turned out to be the one featuring the most cooperation from our group. If there’s a nominee for any game in Jackbox Party Pack 8 that needs house rules, it’s 100% this one.
The Wheel of Enormous Proportions is the most controversial game of Jackbox Party Pack 8
There may be no stinkers in Jackbox Party Pack 8, but The Wheel of Enormous Proportions is definitely the worst game in the pack. With that being said, it was also the game that made us the most lively and animated. That’s impressive considering the word “animate” is in other games in the collection.
Wheel of Enormous Proportions is easily the most accessible and party-friendly game of the bunch. Sadly, it’s also the only game that supports a max of eight players (the others support up to ten). The concept is simple: you’re given a question that has many answers. You attempt to name every possible correct answer. If you do, you’ll earn points, as well as wheel shards.
Those wheel shards are where the game’s catch comes in. After three rounds of questioning, players will approach the big wheel. Everyone will take turns spinning for fabulous prizes (money), but those with the most shards will have the most chances of winning. It’s here that the game’s randomness creates decisiveness. See, the randomness doesn’t only apply to the amount of money you make, but also whether or not you win the game.
Once a player collects $20,000, they get to spin the winner’s wheel, or whatever the game calls it. If you land on the correct shard, you win the game. If you win on the wrong shard, you lose the game and everyone else keeps playing. This means that, yes, you can be the first person to win $20,000, but still lose the game. Each subsequent spin on the winner’s wheel gives better odds to win the game.
This isn’t the first time that players have a chance to catch up to the leaders and overtake them. Trivia Murder Party, one of the best games in the Party Pack’s history, does this as well. The difference here, though, is that it’s completely up to chance. You have to answer correctly in Trivia Murder Party to overtake the leader. Here? You have to up that RNGesus is on your side. It makes the game more approachable and casual, sure, but others are going to be turned off by this.
Poll Mine requires lots of consultation and teamwork
Poll Mine would be the best game of most Party Packs, but not Jackbox Party Pack 8. More on that later, though. Let’s talk about Poll Mine.
Players are split into two teams of miners. They’re tasked with digging deeper into the mine and, since it’s dark there, you’ll need torches. How do you get those torches? I’m glad you asked. This is where the “poll” part of Poll Mine comes in. Everyone is given a list of things and told to rank them. For example, worst subjects in school. Once that’s done, the game will ask you to find “the top three responses.” Sometimes it’ll throw a curveball and ask for the “bottom three responses” instead.
It’s important to note too that everyone is polled, including people on your team. This is important to note since you’ll be able to collaborate within your own group. The opposing team, however, is of no use to you, so you have to guess what they’ll put. It’s here where the game’s strategy comes into play. It’s also here to mention that Poll Mine takes Jackbox Party Pack 8’s title of “game best played with people you know.” That’s not to say you’ll have a bad time playing with strangers, though. Most poll rankings can be easily deduced and summarized, which is half the fun of the game.
Job Job is the best game in Jackbox Party Pack 8
Finally, there’s Job Job, a game about interviewing for a, umm, job. This is done through, as one might expect, an interview process. The catch, though, is that your answers must come from someone else’s words.
The opening round of Job Job requires people to give a prompt, such as over-explaining the game of tag. Said prompt will be given to another player when it’s time to answer an interview question. The interviewee must use, and only use, the available words from the original prompt’s response. If a player gives an over-the-top and in-depth explanation of the game of tag, you have more options available. If someone just says “eliminate the other team,” then, you’re in trouble.
Or perhaps not; there could be a situation eliminating the other team is useful during your potential future employment.
The result is a game that takes the concept of “telephone” up to eleven. Each interview question during our play sessions was both wacky and beyond hilarious. You have the open to also use words in both the original question and rules explanation, but there’s a certain art to be found in answers with broken English that look like a robot wrote them. It could be the alcohol talking or our lack of maturity, but there’s something about “I give baby butter” that’s funnier than “I give a baby this butter.”
Then again, isn’t there extra enjoyment to be found in Jackbox Party Pack 8, never mind all other Jackbox Party Packs, when you add in both alcohol and a lack of maturity?
It’s been tough getting a group together for Jackbox nights. Perhaps that’s why, at first glance, Jackbox Party Pack 8 seemed like such a hit. The more you dive into each game that’s offered, the stronger the pack is.
Whereas past releases had some stinkers weigh down the overall quality, that isn’t the case here. Even the randomness found in Wheel of Enormous Proportions, which will undoubtedly result in people never wanting to play it again, I can’t deny that there’s enjoyment to be found in that game.
Jackbox Party Pack 8 is an absolute home run.