A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Jackbox Party Pack 4 is the latest compilation of downloadable, irreverent social-gathering video games, including Fibbage 3, Survive the Internet, Monster Seeking Monster, Bracketeering, and Civic Doodle. This entry in the now long-running series features five distinct games/modes, and although it's primarily designed to be played by people in the same room together, there's possible exposure to unfiltered/uncensored user-generated content from a number of sources (user-to-user interactions and media sharing via social media and networks). Occasionally, there can be some risqué prompts in one or two of the games, but you can completely prevent them from appearing by switching on the family-friendly option present in all modes.
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What's it about?
In THE JACKBOX PARTY PACK 4, anywhere from two to 18 (though usually a minimum of three) players compete in a collection of games that reward cleverness and wordplay. This time out, the roster includes Fibbage 3, Survive the Internet, Monster Seeking Monster, Bracketeering, and Civic Doodle. Players will be challenged to bluff and create plausible lies about their friends, role-play as monsters trying to find dates, make goofy drawings, and simply have the funniest response to a given prompt. Although the games keep score, no mode really seems to take itself or its potential competitiveness seriously, further freeing you and your friends up to just have a good time together.
Is it any good?
Each entry in this party game series tinkers with its formula just a little bit, and while this new pack is arguably the most confusing, its modes are the most fun in the whole franchise. Of course, your mileage will vary, because in a large part, how fun the game is has a lot to do with how eager you and your friends are to make jokes and sometimes look foolish with ones that don't hit their mark. Your fun also will hinge on everyone's willingness to learn rules and be a little in the dark on each mode for a while. Some games are far more confusing than others: Monster Seeking Monster is perhaps the least obvious about what you're supposed to be doing or writing, as you have to quickly acclimate yourself to a bunch of rules, and then role-play as different characters with different parameters and win conditions on top of that. To be sure, all modes take at least one go-through just to understand.
Nevertheless, the whole package here is very well thought out. If you're waiting for your friends to finish their answers after you've already submitted yours, there are on-screen distractions and jokes to make the delay far more bearable and even enjoyable. Each group of friends is more likely to gravitate toward certain games and find their favorite, though Survive the Internet feels the most inspired among the new additions here. If you don't have enough players, the game will add an AI player with pre-written jokes to bring a new voice with road-tested humor, a nice boost of variety. It's too bad all these games don't offer this option, because otherwise, you will be pretty limited by who lives near you, who you get along with online, or who you overlap with on time zones to make play plausible. Still, if you can get a group together, you're guaranteed to have some laughs and to really enjoy yourself -- reliably.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the seeming resurgence of multiplayer video games that you play with other people who are there in the room with you. Why might this be a preferable experience to playing against random people over the internet? Why and how do you think people might behave differently because they know you and one another?
What can you learn about yourself and others by letting down your guard and just trying to make one another -- and yourself -- laugh?
- Platforms: Mac, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $24.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Jackbox Games, Inc.
- Release date: October 17, 2017
- Genre: Party
- Topics: Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: T for Sexual Themes, Drug Reference, Mild Language, Crude Humor
- Last updated: March 8, 2019
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