Jackbox Party Pack 4 review for Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch

Platform: Xbox One
Also On: PS4, PC, Switch
Publisher: Jackbox Games
Developer: Jackbox Games
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 2-8
Online: Yes

It’s been awhile since we last checked in with Jackbox Games. I reviewed — and raved about — their first Jackbox Party Pack back in 2014, but since then two more Party Packs escaped our notice. After becoming hooked on both Party Packs 2 and 3 thanks to a friend, however, there was no way I was going to let Party Pack 4 suffer a similar fate. For good or ill, I wanted to check it out immediately, rather than kicking myself 6-8 months from now for not getting in on the game sooner.

Thankfully, most of the games on offer here fall squarely in the “good” camp. Much like the previous releases, if you’re after a fun party game, it absolutely delivers that.

The only exception to that rule is Monster Seeking Monster which is…well, it tries something new, I’ll give it that much. Unfortunately, I’m not sure what it delivers. The gist of the game is that it’s a monster dating show. You and the other players have secret monster identities, and you need to woo other players via phone chat, with the goal of going on dates with them (or not, depending on your monster’s power). The thing is, it’s hard to tell what kind of tone the game is after; I played Monster Seeking Monster with two different sets of friends, and in both cases, no one was clear on what approach we were supposed to take. The problem may have been that I was just playing with couples, and in every case the couples felt most comfortable trying to woo their significant others — though, as one friend pointed out, it’d probably be even more awkward playing the game with friends or family members, since who wants to send racy texts to, say, a sibling? Considering every other game on Party Pack 4 stands out for being exceptional, Monster Seeking Monster stands out for being not.

Luckily, as I just said, the other four games here are more than enjoyable enough to make up for one iffy one. Take Fibbage 3, for example. Much like the previous two Fibbage games, it’s pretty fun to try and trick your friends with your lies while at the same time trying to avoid theirs and figure out what the truth may be.

Each of the three other new games on Party Pack 4 are addictive fun in their own rights. Civic Doodle, for example, is like a deranged modern version of Pictionary or Win, Lose or Draw: here you take turns adding on to initial shapes and doodles, with each picture getting more and more crowded as you frantically draw on your phone’s touchscreen within a limited time. It starts out not seeming like much, but as the images get more and more ridiculous, it’s pretty easy to get sucked in.

It’s the other two new games, though, that really make Party Pack 4 worth checking out.

Bracketeering takes a simple concept — brackets, along the lines of NCAA basketball March Madness — and does more with it than you’d think possible. Players are given prompts, and then the suggestions are matched up against each other as players are asked to vote on which one is better depending on criteria suggested by the game. While this may not sound like much, when the prompt is something like “Name two songs.”, you write down, say, “Whoomp! There It Is” and “Du Hast“, and the criteria suddenly becomes “Best songs for sexy dances”, you can see how it can get pretty absurd pretty quickly.

My personal favourite, though, was Survive the Internet, a game that takes internet outrage culture to new heights as you’re explicitly asked to put your friends’ words in the worst possible light. The game will ask you to describe your bedroom (“Messy, but comfortable”), and then gives your words to other players and asks them to think up a scenario where you look like a horrible person (say, a Foursquare review for a “Rub & Tug Massage Parlor”). It’s the perfect set-up for players to say outrageous and inflammatory things, and I found that no matter who I was playing with, we’d invariably have to take breaks so people could compose themselves.

In fact, here’s how much fun Survive the Internet is: if Jackbox Party Pack 4 only included that game, it would make the game worth picking up by itself. Add in three other ultra-fun party games (plus, admittedly, one dud), and you have a recipe for a perfect addition to Jackbox’s pretty stellar line-up.

Grade: A