40 games later, I’m amazed the Jackbox Party Packs are still going strong
Choice of personnel
In addition to our major 2021 Game of the Year Awards, every member of the PC Gamer team is shining a spotlight on a game they’ve loved this year. We’ll be posting new staff picks, along with our top prizes, throughout the month.
There is a game in Jackbox Party Pack 8 about drawing weapons. No, it’s not Drawful, because you can’t guess what the other’s weapons are. In Weapons Drawn, your artwork is a smokescreen for a murder mystery. Hidden in every murder weapon design is a letter (a business card, if you will) of its artist’s name, and identifying it is the only surefire way to find out whodunnit.
You can also name the party guests who are being targeted for killings however you like, be it “Pipplebuff Crumblebottom” or “George Pleasedontkillmeton”. In our last game of Weapons Drawn Over Thanksgiving, I had to draw a sword and figure out how to hide my revealing “M” in it. I decided to camouflage the spiked consonant like the hilt of the sword. The disguise worked for six seconds before my friends noticed it, in retrospect, mistrustful handle shape.
If you keep track, that makes Weapons Drawn part art game, part hidden identity, and part creative writing. I’ve never played anything like this, and it’s pretty amazing when you consider that there are now a total of 40 (!) Jackbox Games. With Party Pack 8, you’d think our group would be fed up with typing room codes and drawing obscure prompts, but Jackbox manages to surprise us every year.
I think it helps that Jackbox has become very good at borrowing concepts from their own games to create new ones. Weapons Drawn, for example, is a murdered version of Drawful and Fakin ‘It. The Wheel of Enormous Proportions, the most casual game in this pack, has the same trivia format as Trivia Murder Party with a touch of randomization added by the wheel spins. Drawful Animate is… well, it’s just more Drawful, except now you can draw some pictures to tell a story.
One of my favorite remixes in Party Pack 8 is Job Job. This one asks players to respond to a benign prompt with as many words as possible. Players must then respond to a new prompt, but can only make their responses using a pool of words from the previous responses. The results often end up looking like those AutoCorrect challenges that are grammatically correct but never really make sense.
“I don’t eat tacos because why even bother with forks and spoons on a Wednesday,” that’s how I pretty much remember answering a question about food. I promise you that made sense back then – you had to be there. The group then votes on their favorite answers like the classic Quiplash. I’ve always liked that you could get serious or funny in games like these, and the added burden of restricting the word choice makes both options more difficult.
Party Pack 8’s biggest triumph is Poll Mine, which is essentially Family Feud if you were both the gamers. and the poll. It’s also as a team, which is apparently a first for a Jackbox game. Teams spend a few minutes responding to a poll (something simple like ranking Pringles flavors or forms of greetings), then taking turns guessing which responses were least or most popular among the group.
I didn’t expect to like this one very much because regular Family Feud is a bit bad, but this variation is awesome. Instead of a general population survey with inconsistent answers, you can use your own answers as a reference and dive into your friends’ heads for answers. Are you making your responses public to help in the short term, or are you keeping your mouth shut so your opponents can’t share the benefits? If Poll Mine sounds like fun, I wrote about it in more detail. here.
It has been a good year for Jackbox. Most packs have a stinky game or two that we rarely come back to, but Party Pack 8 is nothing but bangers (unless you’ve played a billion games of Drawful already, in which case l animation does not add much). Don’t just make it your very first Jackbox – the slightly complicated rules of Weapons Drawn and Poll Mine are a bit confusing for beginners.