The Jackbox Party Pack

Humble Bundle has just launched the Humble Jackbox Party Bundle 2019, featuring over 30 silly and irreverent party games.

Having dabbled with many Jackbox games across countless house parties, it's safe to say that many of these can be very hit-and-miss. However, when they nail an idea the results are usually hilarious.

Looking at this Jackbox Party Bundle, the first tier is relatively uninspiring as it just features a handful of the older You Don't Know Jack quiz games. Sure, some of these can be a bit of fun for the trivia nuts, but there's a lot more variation from later releases. That said, you'll get everything here for under 1.

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The Jackbox Party Pack 5

If there's one game that can be odd and just about get away with it, it's Jackbox, which has revealed yet another party pack is on the way. We're now up to six, if you can believe it.

In a trailer for Trivia Murder Party 2 - the sequel to Jackbox Party Pack 3's grisly quiz game - a release date of autumn 2019 was dropped into the mix. I guess we also know Trivia Murder Party 2 is taking on a hotel theme, so you can live out The Shining with your buddies whenever you desire.

If you're new to the series, Jackbox games typically allow multiple players to connect with a PC or console using mobile devices to compete in a variety of short party games. The previous entry in the series introduced some real gems, such as rapping game Mad Verse City and the unsettling Split The Room. Here's hoping the king of all Jackbox games, Quiplash, gets a third innings in Jackbox Party Pack 6.

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The Jackbox Party Pack - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

I may not know jack but I do at least know Jackbox Games are coming back with another Party Pack of local multiplayer party games. They recently announced The Jackbox Party Pack 6, which will bring a sequel to the Party Pack 3’s Trivia Murder Party along with something named Everybody Help Grandma plus more yet-to-be-announced games. I’ll a number of those games involve coming up with silly and rude answers in response to prompts then having everyone vote on the winner, which has worked pretty well so far.

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The Jackbox Party Pack 5

The pizzas are in the oven. The beers are fresh out the fridge. Some of us have even remembered to charge our phones. It's time for a Jackbox party - and this time it's all about the latest instalment in the series, Party Pack 5.

For those out the loop (or who haven't been students in a while), Jackbox party packs are collections of multiplayer mini game collections. You typically get five games per pack, which can be played by up to eight people on their phones (along with the console or PC running the game's main display). They're pretty fabulous for evening's entertainment - typically because they allow for personalised jokes and crude yet creative humour. Think Cards Against Humanity, but with your name (and your secrets) laid bare for the amusement of all. It can get pretty messy.

As a lazy party host who's always on the lookout for easy entertainment, I've somehow become a veteran Jackbox player. With the latest instalment, I was looking for something that would strike a fine balance between the familiarity of past titles, and something new and quirky.

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The Jackbox Party Pack 5

About how I felt after one game of Split the Room. 

For once, the best game in a Jackbox Party Pack doesn't involve making lewd drawings on cell phone, it involves baring my soul and showing everyone how little I actually know myself. 

Split the Room, part of The Jackbox Party Pack 5, isn't fun in the way the series' party games usually are. I've laughed and smiled throughout, but not because I managed to sort-of rhyme 'walloping' with 'galloping' in a mad-libs robot rap battle diss (one of the other great new games), or because You Don't Know Jack threw an absurd curveball of a trivia question at me. I laughed because I was uncomfortable—butt clenched, almost sweating, grinding my teeth until the timer nearly ran out. 

Would I cook my middle school bully dinner every night if it meant I'd always make the right choices for the rest of my life? I didn't even have a middle school bully, but I've certainly made some stupid choices. I'll get back to you guys in 30 minut—oh, I have 15 seconds? OK. OK. 

It gets worse, and for the better (with the right crowd). 

Split the Room begins like many Jackbox games do. Everyone sees a prompt they need to finish. My very first was from the image below, and it was so messed up (almost too far, Jackbox) that I spent too much time fixating on why anyone would have secret virtual sex with a computer clone of their LinkedIn associates in the first place. The goal is to complete the prompt to form a question that will 'split the room' and cause the most divisiveness (read: inner turmoil) among the answering players as possible. 

I had to come up with the message that a job site connection would automatically receive after the illicit, creepy deed was done. They wouldn't have any knowledge of the computer sex, but they'd definitely get whatever message I wanted them to get. I suppose it didn't matter what I'd do because I wouldn't have to answer the question, but that didn't make it any easier. 

I panicked, OK?

We're looking at Black Mirror: The Party Game Trivia Question.

In a panic, I decided the message would say "Let's get lunch," instead of "Hey, FYI, just did A Thing with your computer clone hope that's cool, uh, Jed from, uhhh, that IT joint I worked at in college." No one would actually do this, right? Doesn't matter. The 'what if' matters. We're looking at Black Mirror: The Party Game Trivia Question. 

When my question entered the rotation, everyone was as perplexed as I was. I got a perfect split, which awards bonus points, and a few more points for how long it took everyone to answer. That was a long minute or so, mostly silence broken up by incredulous laughter, the occasional snort, and a couple hard WHATTTs. 

It's a question designed to make players uncomfortable. I'd never do it. It's too weird and invasive. How does consent apply to virtual recreations of people? It's technically not them, but if it might as well be, then no way, right? Especially if the job site associate gets a weird message every time it happens. With questions like this, Split the Room is a bit more brutal than most Jackbox games, inviting players to consider the absurd and troubling as reality, because it very might well be reality someday. There's a reason the aesthetics are a cartoon cat Twilight Zone impression. 

While Cards Against Humanity simply shows you grotesque or troubling subject matter for a laugh, Split the Room forces you to sit with and think about it deeply. For that reason, I think it's OK when Split the Room goes there, but it's not the kind of game I'd play with people I'm not comfortable around. You might get answers that scare you. 

The prompts aren't all so immediately bruising or close to reality, and you can turn on a family mode that leaves the darker questions packed away. Still, some of the more innocuous questions can prove to be the most perplexing of all, especially if the player that creates it knows how to read the room. 

Would I hang out in a rich person's home for extremely good money if it meant I had to babysit an angry giraffe the whole time? I was the only player that said yes, but I'm still tortured by the question.

I didn't make that second prompt, I swear it (though I hear deadline week isn't always a good time). 

Each game wraps up with a single question where all players contribute an answer to be rattled off in a final round of deep reflection. I spent too long thinking of an answer, cooking up a terrible choice for the people around me like I was some bridge troll cooking up riddles for gallant adventurers. 

Having been tortured by so many difficult decisions, by the game's end I was happy to send more of that pain back at them. The prompt: Which would you rather give up? The ability to sit on stools or (my answer) the ability to drink water without spilling it on your shirt? Imagine drinking water but spilling it every single time. Phew. Damn, James, that's good. What a hell you've imagined. 

If I'd finished my answer on time I'm sure I would've done OK, but as if often the case while playing Split the Room or doing literally anything, my greatest opponent was myself. 

The Jackbox Party Pack 4 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

Demonstrating that they don’t know jack either, Jackbox Games seem to have accidentally released their latest bundle of multiplayer games a few hours earlier than planned. The Jackbox Party Pack 5 packs five new parlour games, including the return of You Don’t Know Jack, and is meant to launch tonight and is still listed on Steam as a pre-order but if you buy it now you can play it now. Alrighty then.

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The Jackbox Party Pack 5 - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Alice O'Connor)

You have three weeks to cancel plans and make new ones with all your pals, as Jackbox Games have announced their next bumper bundle of local multiplayer foolishness is almost here. The Jackbox Party Pack 5 is coming on October 17th, which is a Wednesday so maybe shoot for the 19th or 20th to fill a room with your chums (or a chatroom, if you don’t mind wangling it online) to rap battle with robots, draw silly things, play an alien game show, answer weird trivia in You Don’t Know Jack, and more. It’s hard to guess which Jackbox games will be hits ahead of time, but each Party Pack is always fun to work through to discover the hot new weirdness.

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