The Jackbox Party Pack is a series with yearly installments that I always look forward to. Every year, we’re given five new party games that utilize mobile devices as the controllers for a group of players. Each game handles it differently, whether it be through written prompts, drawing, or to control a character on the screen. Jackbox Party Pack 6 continues the trend of primarily unique party games with five new titles that each bring something different to the table. Just like last year’s review of The Jackbox Party Pack 5, I will be breaking down each game and my experiences with it.
Trivia Murder Party 2
It’s hard to believe that it’s been three years since Trivia Murder Party’s debut on The Jackbox Party Pack 3. It returns with a few new goodies and of course, new trivia questions. The game takes place in a hotel with several “killing floors.” If players get a question wrong, they’re sent to one of these killing floors to play a minigame.
The killing floor games are definitely the highlight. During these games, you’ll fight for your life and accomplish a task to stay in the game. These tasks can be anything from picking a container that the other players not involved in the killing floor game have poisoned, or picking the correct number the most times in a series of questions. If you die, you become a ghost, so you aren’t out for good. Once every player except for one has been killed, or ten questions have been answered, the game moves on to the final round. Sadly, my thumbs failed me in round 2 when I was unable to pick out more correct answers than my opponents not fighting for their lives.
In the final round, players will race to get out of the hotel by selecting the correct items in given categories. For each item they successfully guess, including items that don’t fit the category, they move up one space. Ghosts will have a chance to move three spaces while alive players only get two initially. If a ghost catches up to the surviving player, they steal their body and have a chance to escape. However, this game adds something new by having a barrier at the very end of the final room of the hotel. To get past this barrier, the surviving player has to get all three items correctly identified. Overall, it’s a good sequel to an already great Jackbox game.
Some of these games feel like they’re less about winning and more about the reactions of the group you are playing with. In Role Models, you will be participating in “science experiments” to determine what role you fit into. First, everyone will vote on a category. These categories can range from “Winnie the Pooh” characters to “types of loneliness.” Whichever gets the most votes is chosen. Ties lead to a random choice between them. Next, you will organize everyone on your mobile device into the role that represents them the most. If it’s a piece of entertainment like Winnie the Pooh, you’ll see characters such as Eeyore, Pooh, Tigger, and Piglet. These categories get ridiculous in the best way. It’s better if you know everyone in your group, so it wouldn’t be nearly as fun with strangers.
When everyone is done organizing their fellow players, you will see who voted for what for everyone. For the first role, whoever gets the most votes assumes that role, or in the case of a tie, it’s picked at random between them. Afterwards, none of the votes counts towards that player. If someone ends up without a role, the game will choose one for them. In between choosing roles, there will be personality matches. Here, players will answer a prompt to show that they fit a certain role and players will vote for that player. Sometimes, there will be a single player with two conflicting roles. This player answers a prompt and players decide which role suits their answer best.
What you’re not seeing is that the player actually owns enough firearms for it to be considered an “arsenal.”
Throughout the game, you’re given “science pellets.” You earn these by your vote counting towards someone’s role, being given a role, or by participating in the conflicting personality tests. You can also earn an extra science pellet by tapping the 99% icon next to anyone you sorted that you’re 99% sure of being given that role. There’s no penalty for being wrong on this, so make sure you always tap one of them. At the end, whoever has the most science pellets is the “winner,” and their full personality is highlighted. You can see everyone else’s personalities before the winner is revealed, but I wish all of them were up for longer. It’s hard to take in who exactly is what.
This one is simpler. You and your fellow players are on a boat where you have to tell jokes. At the beginning of the game, you type as many random words as you can, which will show up in prompts later on. The second phase is everyone writing their jokes. They choose from a list of two jokes and fill in the blanks with their own response. The prompts contain the words you wrote at the beginning of the game. These are hit or miss depending on words you get in the prompts.
When you’re performing these jokes, you can either have the game “say it for you” which emulates sounds similar to Banjo Kazooie, or you can have the joke show up in silence as you read it. If there’s one thing this game taught me, it’s that I’m not as hilarious as I thought I was. Either that, or the prompts I was given didn’t leave enough room for my kind of comedy.
The final round has a twist on this. You will get to choose one of the jokes told earlier and put in your own prompt. If your new joke is voted to be better, you get extra points. This is also hit and miss depending on what you get. Joke Boat has a lot of potential, and it’s still fun with the right group, but it tends to drag on a little too long.
Dictionarium is the sleeper hit of The Jackbox Party Pack 6. It’s short and sweet, and that’s something that needs to be in these games more often. The concept is simple: you and the other players are creating a new word or slang phrase to go into the dictionary. At the start of the game, you can choose whether to define a new word or a slang phrase. If you’re playing with more than four players, there will be two words or phrases.
Next, you write a definition of said word. When that’s been done, everyone votes on their favorite and the winner is chosen as the definition. If there’s a tie, the game will pick one at random. After that, you have to write a synonym for that word. This prompt goes away really fast, so there’s a lot of pressure. This is clever, as it ensures that every stage of creating the word is entirely in the hands of the players.
Once the synonym has been voted on, you reach the final stage: constructing a sentence with the synonym. You’re given more time for this one, so the pressure isn’t as high. When your sentence is written, it’s voted on, and the winning definition gets the most points and is chosen.
And that’s the end of the game. The synonym, definition, and word used in a sentence show up and are added to the “dictionary.” There’s a winner, as you’re given points, but this honestly doesn’t matter. In fact, it’s the only game I won with my group of friends and it felt better to make a hilarious word. And since this game only took about 5-10 minutes, we played this one the most.
As a bonus, you’re able to see a list of all of the words you made definitions for. You can even delete ones that are less-than-hilarious to create a perfect dictionary.
Push The Button
Lastly we have Press The Button. This game is a little more complex than the other games and is Jackbox’s take on the social deduction genre. On your spaceship, one (or more if you have enough players) of your crewmates is an alien in disguise. You have to send everyone through a series of tests to determine who the aliens are.
Every turn, someone will choose a few players to test. These tests vary, while some involve drawing a specific thing, others involve answering a question. Human players in testing will receive the same prompt, while aliens will receive a different prompt. When everyone’s answers are shown, it shows the human’s prompt. The responses from aliens should look suspicious, as their prompt was slightly different. If you’re suspicious that one of these players is an alien, you can mark it.
This screen keeps track of how many times someone’s been tested, and for aliens, it allows them hack their next prompt.
Your mobile device will keep track of the votes you’ve made and how many times a player has been tested. Aliens have the ability to throw other players off by “hacking” the prompts, giving a player an alien prompt if they’re human or vice versa. This is a good way for the aliens to throw humans off their trail. However, humans have a chance of proving that they are human with the bioscanner.
In the bioscanner, one person will be given three symbols. The players chosen for the bioscanner will have more symbols. The player with three symbols will verbally describe these symbols as the others choose the correct ones. If successful, one person will choose who to scan, and the scanner will tell them if they’re human or an alien. It’s up to the other players to determine whether they’re lying or not.
But where is “the button” you ask? In the bottom right of your device is “the button.” When pressed, you’ll head to the extraction room, where players will be chosen to be extracted, depending on how many aliens there are. The vote then has to be unanimous or else you’ll go back to running tests. If a single alien isn’t extracted after sending someone out to the cold endless void of space, aliens win.
Press The Button is complicated at first, and there’s a time limit as well, adding pressure to figure out who is an alien quickly. Fortunately, the time limit increases if you have more players. But then again, so does the number of aliens. To add to that, having it be a “figure out all the aliens in one go” situation makes it a little brutal against the humans. It’s a fun game, even if it is hard to get the hang of initially.
There isn’t a single bad game in The Jackbox Party Pack 6. In fact, I’d go further and say that there’s not even a “just okay” game in this bunch. As I’m attending a party this weekend where we’ll be playing this game, I’m having a hard time figuring out which game to pick first. If you like The Jackbox Party Pack, you better not skip this one.