Since 2014, party game enthusiasts have been treated to a new Jackbox Party Pack around the same time every year, giving fans about five new party games with each installment. However, not all Jackbox Party Packs are created equal, and the quality hasn't been consistent, with some entries featuring weaker games than others. Thankfully, The Jackbox Party Pack 5 is one of the better games in the series, and is arguably the best party game released this year.
The Jackbox Party Pack 5 brings four brand new party games for fans to try out, along with a new version of You Don't Know Jack. Trivia fans will enjoy You Don't Know Jack's return to the series, but it's basically the same experience as past You Don't Know Jack games. You Don't Know Jack's inclusion is appreciated, but most will likely be more interested in the completely new party games that The Jackbox Party Pack 5 brings to the table.
First up is Split the Room, a party game with a Twilight Zone-style presentation that challenges players to fill in missing words for various situations. The goal is to "split the room" by getting half of the people in the room to agree with the presented situation and the other half to disagree with it. Split the Room is good for some laughs, and the Twilight Zone aesthetic makes it a bit more memorable than many other Party Pack games. Knowing the people you're playing with and how they think is crucial to success, and that adds a bit of strategy to the proceedings for those who want to really put some thought into how they complete their situations.
Split the Room is fun, but it is completely overshadowed by the best new Party Pack game, and one of the best the series has ever had, Mad Verse City. In Mad Verse City, Transformers-esque robots compete in rap battles that use text-to-voice software to actually rap the rhymes players come up with. When played with the right people, Mad Verse City is downright hilarious and will leave players howling with laughter more often than not. The only downside is that since it's tournament style and the winner is determined by player vote, it's not as fun when playing with anything less than a full group of eight.
Next is Zeeple Dome, which is the closest the Jackbox Party Pack games has gotten to a traditional video game. In it, players use their phone screens to fling color-coded characters at enemies and power-ups, with the goal being to earn as many points as possible and eliminate all of the opponents. Compared to the other games, Zeeple Dome isn't nearly as fun, and that's due to a couple of different reasons. For one, it only allows for up to six players, whereas every other game lets eight players participate, and secondly, it's difficult to aim with a phone touchscreen while simultaneously paying attention to what's happening on the TV. It's interesting to see Jackbox Games experiment with party games that are more like a traditional video game, but Zeeple Dome is a disappointment.
And finally, we have Patently Stupid, which tasks players with dreaming up inventions to deal with various problems. As can be expected, the problems players come up with can get pretty vulgar, and the inventions they draw equally so. The game suffers from a common issue with the Jackbox Party Pack games, in that drawing on a smartphone screen with the thick lines it uses is difficult, but Patently Stupid is still plenty of fun regardless. It also has a unique public speaking element to it in that it encourages players to actually present their inventions to the group - those that don't want to can always let the snarky announcers present it for them instead, though.
We enjoyed Patently Stupid, but it and all the other party games did occasionally suffer from a problem that has been common in the series since its inception. Sometimes phones simply don't cooperate with the game, and players occasionally aren't able to vote or submit their answers properly. This is rare enough that it isn't a huge issue, and it's hard to say if the blame lies with the software, the console, or the smartphones themselves, but it's disappointing that it's still a problem after five games.
These lingering issues aside, The Jackbox Party Pack 5 provides some great Party Pack games, with Split the Room, Mad Verse City, and Patently Stupid standing out as especially entertaining. Of course, some players may not get quite as much mileage out of The Jackbox Party Pack 5 if they don't have a fun group of friends to play with on a consistent basis, but even so, it's better than other party games that have released this year.
The Jackbox Party Pack 5 is out now for Amazon Fire TV, iOS, PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One. Game Rant reviewed the game on PS4.