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 8 is a party game available for download for Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, and Nintendo Switch. Groups of up to 10 players (each with their own phone or tablet) can play five different games locally or online. Games involve drawing, answering trivia questions, responding to polls, and, in an investigation game, figuring out who murdered who. Some of the curated content may contain mild profanity -- such as the word "ass" -- and mildly suggestive content with words like "sex," but a family-friendly toggle on the main menu keeps iffy material from popping up. Parents should also be aware that some questions reference familiar brands, movies, and singers, but without any intent to promote them.
What's it about?
THE JACKBOX PARTY PACK 8 provides groups of up to 10 players -- local or online -- with five games meant to make people engage with one another, be a bit creative, and laugh. Up to 10,000 additional people can join in by becoming part of your game's online audience (should you choose to allow them), watching you and your friends draw silly pictures and answer fun questions. Just one copy of the game is required, but each player needs a phone and an internet connection so that they can navigate to the Jackbox website, where they enter a four-letter code for the current game so they can begin playing. The games are a mixed bunch, but some will be familiar to returning players. Drawful Animate, for example, tasks players to draw a pair of pictures, loops them to create the illusion of motion, and then lets other players come up with titles for the image. Another, called the Poll Mine, provides players with instructions to rank a number of selections from a list, then try to guess how everyone in the room voted. The Wheel of Enormous Proportions, meanwhile, provides simple trivia questions that players need to answer in order to earn as many slots as possible on a wheel that allocates points based on the luck of the spin. Weapons Drawn is a "social deduction" game that has players drawing murder weapons by cleverly sketching around a letter drawn from their own names, then seeing if other players can guess the culprit. And Job Job is a fast-paced writing game that sees players piecing together weird sentences from the words in other player's answers to simple icebreaker questions. A variety of settings allow parents to censor more mature content (both game- and player-generated), increase or even switch off timers, and generally make the experience a little more accessible to anyone in need of a little help.
Is it any good?
Whether you're looking for a little family fun, a way to spend an evening with a group of close friends, or need to kick-start a get-together of people who don't really know each other, this could be the ticket. Like other games in the series, The Jackbox Party Pack 8 is designed to be simple enough for just about anyone, gamer or not, to be able to pick up and play in seconds. Instructions are quick and simple, and the fact that everyone uses a touchscreen phone rather than a complicated controller really helps things along. Similarly, these aren't games that favor the smartest or the most artistic in the group. The worse the sketch, the more fun everyone is likely to have giggling over drawings. Even games with a trivia focus -- like The Wheel of Enormous Proportions and Poll Mine -- use knowledge merely as a starting point before moving on to award points for other things, like being able to figure out what everyone else is thinking.
The most intimidating part of the whole experience might simply be the anxiety some players are bound to feel over trying to be funny. After all, the goal of these games isn't really to win, but rather have a good time with friends and make them laugh. But the more you play and observe what strikes your fellow gamers as funny, the more comfortable you're likely to become plying your comedic skills. It'd have been nice to see Telltale take a few more risks here -- Drawful has been around for a while now, even if the animation shtick is new -- but there's no question that this is another fun entry in the series. The Jackbox Party Pack 8 is a safe bet to entertain your next gathering of friends and family, whether it happens to be at your house or over the internet.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about using games to promote character strengths and life skills. The Jackbox Party Pack 8 promotes social interactions, and it's laid back vibe is a good way for kids to learn to be good losers and gracious winners, but do you ever feel angry when you lose?
The Jackbox games encourage players to be creative and humorous, but it can be a little tricky and intimidating, so what guides you when you're trying to come up with something you hope others will find funny?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S
- Price: $29.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Telltale Games
- Release date: October 14, 2021
- Genre: Party
- ESRB rating: T for Fantasy Violence, Sexual Themes, Language, Crude Humor
- Last updated: October 15, 2021
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.