The Jackbox Party Pack 7 is here with a slew of mostly awesome, creative new games that carry the torch of the Jackbox franchise with pomp.
The Jackbox Games formula is tried and true at this point, but playing any entry in The Jackbox Party Pack franchise online with friends via Discord or Zoom has given me a feeling I haven’t had since March, when I felt comfortable hanging out with groups of friends. They’re the kind of games that, like a good kart racer or fighting game, need to feel evergreen to be good. Hell, my most-played entry in the series is from about four years ago, and I’d still be happy to boot it up today. What makes The Jackbox Party Pack 3, or any other good Jackbox game for that matter, so replayable are the ways the individual minigames can stay fresh while not alienating any of the players. The Jackbox Party Pack 7 handles this tightrope walk with poise, balancing different kinds of games for different situations and groups by bringing back classic Jackbox games and mechanics.
The pack itself comes in the pretty standard wrappings of any Jackbox game, as you have five games to choose from; Quiplash 3, The Devils and the Details, Champ’d Up, Talking Points, and Blather ‘Round. Each game sets itself apart from the others in the pack fairly well by drawing from different ways to balance player-controlled content. Across the five minigames, each allows for its own unique brand of chaotic fun, while also never encroaching on another’s territory.
Of all the games, only one of them is noticeably worse than the others, with the rest being arguably some of the best in the franchise. When I played through each game in the pack with my roommates just to learn the ropes, The Devils and the Details stuck out like a sore thumb. It’s not necessarily bad, it’s just the least fun to me. The game sees you and the other players assume roles in a family and work on tasks that fill a meter, and whoever contributes the most by the end of a set time period gets extra points. The challenge comes in when team members are allowed to do tasks that can risk lowering the meter and cause catastrophic events so that they get points for themselves. As a game that boils down to communication and frantically tapping or swiping on your phone screen, it’s fun and has its moments, but easily the worst game in the pack overall.
The three other new games in the pack–Champ’d Up, Talking Points and Blather ‘Round–are all fantastic. In fact, I’d argue that all three deserve to be on the tier of games like Quiplash or Drawful. Champ’d Up gives players a prompt to draw a couple of characters before pitting them against other creations. It feels like Champ’d Up takes the best elements from past Jackbox games like Drawful and Tee K.O. and combines them. Creations we made like “Dora the Scary Explorer” or “Guile Shitting Himself” were instant classics, and feeling your grip on the real world loosen as you scream at your roommates to vote for a big, burly army man with loose stool is an indescribably funny experience.
Talking Points takes all the fun parts of the recent (admittedly ridiculous) Tik Tok trend that involves friends getting together to give PowerPoint presentations and gets rid of the boring stuff. Mainly, it takes out the prep time, knowing what you’re talking about, and the illusion of control over the PowerPoint (and your life), as another player assumes control over what your audience actually sees. Delivering stream-of-consciousness presentations and entering a state of suspenseful flow between slides is as often a trainwreck as it is hilarious – and perfect. Talking Points is the sleeper hit in this pack, and honestly, it’s becoming my favorite Jackbox game.
Rounding out the offering of new games introduced in Jackbox 7, Blather ‘Round brings a new spin to Charades. Rather than acting things out until someone gets something related to what you are and using that as a clue, Blather ‘Round gives you a prompt and a fill-in-the-blanks sentence with a pair of vague descriptors for the other players to throw guesses at. As answers roll in, the player with the prompt is allowed to keep clarifying based on a combination of more vague descriptors that the game gives them and the answers other players give. It feels like a fun innovation on the formula of Charades that makes it harder, but also funnier.
Rounding out the pack is a classic known well to Jackbox aficionados, Quiplash 3. The third iteration of what is arguably the most popular Jackbox game pretty much does what it does best: it lets players fill in the blanks to various prompts, like a crowd-sourced Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity. For the most part, players won’t find anything new in this edition of Quiplash aside from the slightly tweaked third round, which offers a much better alternative to the variants offered in Quiplash 2.
With four great and unique party games and one okay one wrapped up in one stellar party pack, The Jackbox Party Pack 7 offers a fun, dynamic party experience with a few of the best new games in the franchise to date, like Talking Points and Blather ‘Round. It also features the triumphant return of the stone-cold Jackbox classic in Quiplash 3. Given the strong individual parts, and especially in the current state of the world right now, Jackbox 7 is probably the best entry in the franchise yet. I’ve enjoyed older versions of Jackbox while reconnecting with friends over Discord or Zoom–or just playing with the people I live with–but this year’s party pack feels like a consistently fun and hilarious diversion from the stresses of 2020.