Here’s the thing. If you’re a Jackbox Party Pack veteran, you know that these games are only as good as your company. You also know that in each package some of the games shine more than others. The secret to those gems is simple: They prompt you just enough to let your creativity shine. The latest installment, The Jackbox Party Pack 6, is not short on those gems. But like many packs before, you’re bound to run into a dud or two.
The latest offering from Jackbox Games runs the gamut of game styles. Trivia Murder Party 2 eases players in with a horror-themed spin on classic competitive trivia. Dictionarium and Joke Boat give the opportunity for players to stretch their creative writing legs. Role Models tests what you and your friends think of each other. And Push The Button pushes how much you trust your fellow players while giving you a bite-sized taste of some of Jackbox’s greatest hits.
Killing ’em softly
Trivia Murder Party 2 is, of course, the sequel to Trivia Murder Party, one of the more underwhelming offerings of past Jackboxes. It is also the only game with no creative input; it’s basically just trivia. The introduction is presented with much more flourish this time, invoking the modern horror sequel recapping the previous film through a news clips motif. The game itself is largely unchanged, however. Contestants answer trivia questions, some horror-themed, others not, for cash. If you answer wrong, you are forced into a minigame to save your life.
There is more involvement this time around, though. For example, one of the minigames is a pachinko machine in which some slots give bonus money and others result in death. The other major alteration to the formula comes in the final round. Players can only escape their grisly demise by getting their final question 100% correct. It’s a nice little change of pace that gives the remaining “dead” players one last shot to take it all at the 11th hour. Even with these improvements, it still isn’t going to hold your attention for long. It’s a safe option for starting out the night, but you’ll soon move on to the better offerings.
Webster’s dictionary defines…
Dictionarium steps in as the defacto Quiplash replacement. In essence, it is a build-your-own Urban Dictionary game. Players are given a made-up slang term, then must come up with a definition of what the fake phrase can mean. By the end, the original term has been replaced, and a definition and example sentence of how to properly use the term is left. It’s only as funny as the people you play it with, but it will likely slide right into your regular rotation of party games.
Push The Button is, without a doubt, the biggest surprise in The Jackbox Party Pack 6. It pits you and your friends against each other, combining aspects from multiple previous Jackbox offerings in bite-size portions — including Drawful, Quiplash, Guesspionage, and more. It may very well be the ultimate distillation of the essence of Jackbox.
In Push The Button, you and your friends play as the crew of a spaceship. Awoken by your ship’s A.I., you are told that one or more of your crew has been replaced by aliens. It is up to all of you to find out who it is before a timer expires. A captain is chosen at the beginning of each round. They then pick up to four players to test (This varies depending on how many players you have.) to see if they are human.
Humans are always given a different prompt from aliens, and only human prompts are revealed to the entire group. At almost any time you can also check each player’s previous answers as well as the prompts they should have been answering. It is up to the crew to decide whose answers are suspicious.
At any time, a player can push the button and choose who they want to send into isolation in the airlock. Ejecting someone from the ship has to be a unanimous decision. However, each player only gets one press of the button, so you had better be sure to have your arguments straight.
One big risk comes from fellow humans answering questions in a way that you wouldn’t expect. In one test, three players were asked if they would keep, flush, or return a coworker’s wedding ring found in a toilet — which sounds like the lead-up to a Silent Hill puzzle. A player (that we later found out was playing a human role) said they would keep the ring, which threw suspicion on them for the remainder of the game. Additionally, aliens can hack human prompts to muddy the waters even further.
All of this comes together to breed an incredibly hectic, fast-paced, and loud adventure. Push The Button honestly invokes some of the same feelings of tension as the scene where Kurt Russell tests everyone’s blood from John Carpenter’s The Thing. Trust nothing except your paranoia. It is for sure the highlight of the pack.
Some kind of joke
Joke Boat falls flat compared to the rest of The Jackbox Party Pack 6. It is very similar to Mad Verse City, the giant robot rapping game from Jackbox 5, but with hacky jokes replacing rhyming couplets. The problem here, just like with Mad Verse City, is how you are asked to form your jokes.
You begin simply by coming up with as many topics as possible. This is done exactly like a Mad Libs: name a person, pick a place, choose a food item. Players are then given a choice of setup to a typical cheesy joke with a subject written by another player.
That in and of itself wouldn’t be too bad, but the game chooses the first half of the punchline. All you are left with is completing the joke. So, you are forced into a joke like: “How many ____ does it take to screw in a light bulb? Three. One to screw it in and two to ____.” And you have to finish the punchline.
This game doesn’t really give you much chance to be creative. It gives you a lame setup to make a bad joke. There’s no cohesion to any of the jokes because they are Frankensteined together. Most of the results end up falling flat. This is by far the worst game in the pack and one of the weaker offerings in the entire series.
Build your own Breakfast Club
Role Models can be a lot of fun or a drag in The Jackbox Party Pack 6. Your group will be presented with a series of roles like who does what in a bank robbery. Every round, players vote on who they think would best fit each role. If you guess with the majority, you get a point. It is a fun enough way to see what each person in the group thinks of each other. It feels like taking a Buzzfeed quiz but letting your friends pick all the answers for you.
The game also seems at odds with itself. You can only have up to six players. The rest of the people have to be the audience limited to only voting. Unlike other Jackbox offerings, the audience role here seems to get in the way. The point of the game is to determine each player’s personality based on what the other players think of them.
Removing the ability to be labeled in return leaves the audience poking fun at their friends without getting their own label. Unlike other Jackbox games, where the audience either gets to play along as a single unit or simply vote for an answer they find funny, Role Models’ audience feels there just for its own sake. Because of that, it probably won’t be a hit with larger parties like Quiplash or Fibbage.
The rules and objectives of Role Models seem geared toward small gatherings. However, the audience can technically number in the thousands. This little detail makes Role Models feel as if it’s made primarily for streamers or other content creators, as opposed to small, self-contained parties. Role Models is a game about designating roles to people based on their personalities. But without knowing the other players (as a streamer playing with their anonymous audience likely wouldn’t), these choices are going to be mostly arbitrary.
By trying to cater to both local parties and streams, it ends up not living up to its potential for either scenario. In the context of playing with people you know, it’s no fun getting sidelined by the audience. With a streamer playing with strangers, it would make the results a random mess.
Jack of all trades
Jackbox games always seem to be mixed in their overall quality. But The Jackbox Party Pack 6, even without essentials like Quiplash or Tee K.O., makes a strong addition to anyone’s party game collection. From your old drinking buddies and coworkers to even your in-laws, there is something here for everyone to enjoy. With strong new additions like Push The Button and Dictionarium, this is a good entry point for those new to the Jackbox series, and it’s a must for those who have torn through all the Quiplash prompts.