Jackbox Party Pack 8 is a solid take on the fantastic formula

The Jackbox Party Packs are a social godsend; these collections of simple, dynamic minigames have been a bastion throughout the pandemic. Only one person needs to own the pack, and then they can host a Discord call or Twitch stream and get everyone in on the fun via a web browser. The newest entry, The Jackbox Party Pack 8, is a solid new contender in the series, with no games that feel like filler.

Some of these packs are mean, and delight in pitting you against your friends in a bizarre competition. Others are pretty chill, and can be safely dispatched to entertain family during the holidays or to break the ice with acquaintances. The games in 8 all feel a little more focused on delivering a specific experience, and the developer’s gotten better at crafting their little quirks.

Drawful Animate

Drawful is great, and one of the best games from previous Packs. Drawful Animate is better. It’s like a feral game of Pictionary, where players are given absurd captions and limited tools to draw them. This is not an artistic endeavor; in fact, the worse you do, the funnier things get. Drawful Animate spices things up further by giving people two drawings to complete, which then loop together to create a basic animation.

This isn’t a huge change, but it’s a novel one, and it also comes with some fun tools like episodes. You can write your own wild phrases, or fill in your friends’ names so Drawful Animate can pull them up as the subject matter of a round. It’s a nice tool to stack on top of the base game, and players can avoid burning through all the prompts by adding their own. Drawful Animate is the headliner of this pack, and it’s a lot of fun — as long as you were already on board with Drawful vanilla.

Job Job

Job Job was my surprise favorite from this pack, and it’s especially great for those who love absurd humor. In Job Job, everyone answers small-talk questions. Those answers are then fed to the other players, who have to use their refrigerator magnet skills to piece together a cohesive answer. This is a quick and funny one that is group agnostic; I’d feel equally comfortable busting this one out with friends as I would with my family on Christmas Eve. Also, the fact that everything in the Job Job universe has googly eyes is deeply concerning and hilarious, which cancels out the inherent soul-draining despair of a job search.

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The Poll Mine

The Poll Mine is a super charming survey game. Players have to rank their choices to a difficult question — which of these terrible options can you best endure? Then, everyone has to guess how their friends answered. The nature of this game means it’s probably best with a pre-existing group who have some familiarity with each other. But for fans of the previous Party Pack Games that focus on interpersonal dynamics, like Party Pack 6’s Role Models, this will be a treat.

Image: Jackbox Games

The Wheel of Enormous Proportions

The Wheel of Enormous Proportions is a simple roulette wheel, with one catch. If you want the wheel to favor you, you can win bigger slices of it by answering rapid-fire trivia questions. The game might give you a huge chunk of John Travolta’s filmography, then ask you which movies had him dancing. Knock it out of the park, and when you approach the wheel, your victories grant you some random slots of the wheel, increasing your chance of landing on a win for you. The only real downside to this minigame is that the Wheel itself is — and there’s no better way to say this — horny on main. The game’s conceit is that you are playing travelers trying to have your unique question answered by the titular Wheel. The Wheel is… a little too into helping you ascend to its spiritual heights. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a slight distraction.

Weapons Drawn

Weapons Drawn is probably the most cerebral game in the pack. Everyone is both a murderer and a detective — the goal is to hide your own murders while uncovering the others. The game takes a letter of your name, and gives it to you as a calling card. Then, you have to draw a weapon around that calling card in order to disguise it. The ‘A’ in Cass can become the faucet in a clawfoot tub, or the ‘C’ can make the handy edge of a mace.

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With Jackbox Party Pack 8, Jackbox Games have further refined their process, making all of these games pretty dang fun. Their experience is also reflected in nice quality of life features, like a menu that allows me to adjust volume and tick on extended timers just once instead of having to manually check the menu of each minigame. It’s a small improvement, but a welcome one.

No single one of these games are worth the cost alone — there are Party Packs that I own as a Tee K.O. or Quiplash machine, and none of the games in this Pack have that same stickiness and ease to pick up for me. But there are no stinkers, either — everything here is something I’d feel comfortable recommending to a friend or bringing out at a gathering. That’s a valuable resource, and I figure wherever I go, at least I can liven it up with some Job Job.

The Jackbox Party Pack 8 will be released Oct. 14 on major digital platforms. The game was reviewed using a pre-release download code provided by Turtle Rock Studios. The Madison Leader Gazette has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though The Madison Leader Gazette may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find additional information about The Madison Leader Gazette’s ethics policy here.

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