With the highly-awaited sequel in Trivia Murder Party 2 and a surprise hit in Push the Button, Jackbox Party Pack 6 is near-perfect party-game heaven.
The party-saving franchise is back with another installment in Jackbox Party Pack 6. With 4 completely original games and one highly-anticipated sequel, this pack is a welcome improvement over its predecessor. There's not a dud among these varied creations, and its more likely than not that each friend group will have their own favorite.
Jackbox Games' "Party Packs" have been around for 5 glorious years now, each one introducing several new digestible games for anywhere from 2-8 players (with the general rule of thumb being the more, the merrier). The games last anywhere from 10-25 minutes each and require no set-up, no rules or explanation prior, and only players' smart phones, tablets, or laptops to get into the action. So even friends that claim to not be into board games or don't have a competitive spirit will find something in Jackbox's color offerings to spark their interest.
Over the years, Jackbox has drastically adjusted not just the variety of games - branching from just trivia and Cards Against Humanity-style action to more thoughtful and quirky interpretations - but also the amount of players that can hop in and play. Jackbox Party Pack 6 is no different, and hundreds of players (if you have that many friends or that much room) can participate in most of the 5 games, allowing them to answer questions or participate in a vote on which joke is best. And like a great punchline, this 6th entry in the series feels fresh; it may be one of the best packs yet!
Trivia Murder Party 2 is the only returning game in Jackbox Party Pack 6, and it is more or less exactly the same as the version that came out in Jackbox Party Pack 3. The premise revolves around a murderer who has trapped a group of unlucky friends in their booby-trapped hotel. They must answer a series of questions to escape. Get one wrong and you're dead! But that doesn't mean it's game over.
This irreverent approach to trivia includes a lot of tough questions, but players aren't meant to get them all right. They're a perfect blend of goofy but still plausible that person might know them; questions like the above Oreo design. With the ghoulishly-voiced narrator and some fun, The Shining-themed animations and design, this game is sure to be the favorites of friend groups that like seeing who is the smartest.
But what of the friends who are less competitive? Those who would rather prove how well they know each other than how well they know random facts? That's who Role Models is for. In this game, players become subjects in a science experiment whose goal is to give them a defining characteristic. Maybe you're the "Cowardly Foodie with a Heart of Gold" or the "Tough Realist." Either way, your friends will vote on several categories to "analyze" you with hilarious results.
This game is the most difficult one to play with fewer players; there's too much open space, and no feeling of completion. It's also challening to play with people you don't know that well, unlike some of the other offerings in this pack. That said, this game shines when a group of 8 friends are in the thick of it. Selecting a type of corn that best represents each friend (see above) and seeing if your other friends choose the same is just ridiculous enough to keep you guessing and laughing through the night.
For fans of more old-school games without all the Jackbox thrills, Dictionarium is a bit more straightforward. It plays like a several round game of Balderdash, with a dash of the classic Fibbage (a Jackbox original) mixed in. Players come up with a fake definition to a made up word and vote on their favorites. Then they make up a word that is a synonym to the winner/s of the previous round, and in the final round, use it in a sentence.
Dictionarium tows the line of a game that forces the player to do all the work, and requires just enough cleverness to keep the pace up and the answers funny. It's not easy to give players the opportunity to be comedians without making other players who are less quick on their feet feel left out or discouraged as they watch the point deficit climb. So while Dictionarium succeeds at this task, crafting an enjoyable and quick experience for all...
Joke Boat sinks right after leaving the dock. Even with its charming setting and characters, this game struggles to create situations where almost anyone can really shine. It's hard to imagine actual comedians coming up with good jokes in under 60 seconds, using mad-libbed prompts, let alone just a group of friends who might not get all of each other's jokes.
Players must chose prompts, make set-ups and punchlines, and later re-write another boat member's joke to see if they can "punch it up." Between all those acts, this game also takes the longest - or at least it feels as though it does. It's not a complete wash though; Joke Boat could definitely be fun mixed in with the rest of these games, as a change of pace after too many Trivia "murders." Maybe with the right group, the jokes will land, but compared to its competition, it feels left out to sea.
From the waters of earth, we head to space for the final Jackbox Party Pack 6 game: Push the Button. Here, players are aboard a spaceship filled with humans and - depending on your group size - 1 to 3 aliens. These impostors must be sussed out within 15 minutes or it's game over for the crew of your vessel.
The game is divided into rounds of sorts, with each player taking a turn at being the captain. The captain chooses several crew members and places them in one of the many rooms of the ship, where a mini-game occurs. The game could either be selecting an answer to a silly moral prompt, drawing based on directions, answering a simple question, etc. Players use the games' results to determine which players are human, and which are disguised aliens. Because while humans get one prompt to a drawing/question, aliens will get another. Looking for the discrepancy - or aggressively defending one - is what will determine if the aliens are ever found.
Push the Button was a complete surprise to play: it takes the best elements of Jackbox games: the quick pace, the goofy prompts, the yelling at friends, and distills them down to their essences. All players will have the opportunity to fib, to fight, to debate who is an alien, and to make a fool out of themselves. There's so much variety in this short session that playing again and switching things up is a complete no-brainer.
In brief summary, Trivia Murder Party 2 was excellent; there was no surprise there. Role Models and Dictionarium are both solid spins on the Jackbox formula. Joke Boat is the weakest of the bunch, but there's still fun to be had. Push the Button is the stand-out and could almost be considered worth 30 bucks on its own. But your friend group may have a different fave, you'll never know until you grab the pack - and we recommend you do.
Jackbox Party Pack 6 is available on on PC and Mac, Apple and Amazon TV, and PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch for $29.99. Screen Rant was provided with a PS4 copy for the purpose of this review.