The Jackbox Party Starter Preview – A Greatest Hits Collection For Newcomers

Jackbox has long become a staple of party nights, so in many ways The Jackbox Party Starter is a bit of a no-brainer. The pack, designed to put Jackbox's best foot forward for newcomers, offers three of the best Jackbox games in one simple package: Quiplash 3, Tee K.O., and Trivia Murder Party 2. I went hands-on with the new collection last week, and evaluating my thoughts on it is a more complex task than expected. I regularly play every Jackbox from 3-8 with friends, so these games were nothing new to me, and I know now what I knew before going in – they're pretty good. Mostly what I learned was that Jackbox needs to be played with friends.

When I play Jackbox usually, it's with good friends. Friends I have gone on holiday with, shared intimate stories with, friends whose weddings I have been involved in. I'm a woman of culture, as are my friends, so we know that the funniest answer you can give in Quiplash is some variation on 'cum' or a riff on any of our off-colour in-jokes. When you're playing with journos you haven't met before and developers you have never spoken to, you know better than to go blue, and there are no in-jokes to make. Even trying to capture a shared experience falls flat. I had a prompt about an attention seeking celebrity doing… you know, explaining it won't make it any funnier. In any case, my answer was Geoff Keighley, an especially relevant answer given that he's been absolutely everywhere during Summer Game Fest. You open a box of cereal and Keighley is the prize inside, waiting to tell you about Generic Dark Corridor Shooter 3, coming Spring 2023. The response, from a crowd of games journalists and game developers, was "who is Geoff Keighley?"

Honestly, why do I bother? While this sounds like pointless whining that my funny joke went un-laughed, it is part of a larger point. Jackbox is a superb game to play with people you know, but if The Party Starter is supposed to draw in new people, even these most basic games can cause unforeseen issues. If you've never played Jackbox before and are using this preview as part of your decision making, both Quiplash and, to an extent, Tee K.O. rely on you and your friends being funny and having a shared sense of humour, so keep that in mind. With the right friends though, Quiplash will quickly become your favourite. It's no coincidence that across eight packs, three of them have included Quiplash, and that it has been chosen as the headliner for this greatest hits package.

I don't have any particular stand out stories for the other two, but for the uninitiated, here's a quick rundown. Tee K.O. sees you drawing pictures for t-shirts, and then making slogans for t-shirts, before you randomly get a bunch of pictures and slogans from other players and have to match them up. There's a different type of humour needed here, as well as some artist ability, and it's probably the best 'draw a thing' game Jackbox has to offer (toss up between this and Patently Stupid), even if I think the dojo master framing around it gets grating and slows the pacing down. Also I made a Keighley callback and this time people got it. Hooray.

Trivia Murder Party 2 is the trivia game of the pack, and if we broadly split Jackbox into 'be funny', 'draw something', and 'know stuff', this again represents the peak of the genre. The first round sees you answer a multichoice question, where getting it wrong takes you to a Saw-style murder floor. You can still survive this, and even getting it wrong doesn't eliminate you, it just makes you a ghost for the final round, meaning you initially start with more options to select, but are further behind in the race. It does a great job of balancing the gore too – if you're not into it, it's easy to ignore the framing of drinking from a poisoned goblet and just understand that selecting the wrong option means you start at a disadvantage. Conversely, if you love the horror themes, don't skip the optional sections and enjoy the blood-splattered darkness. On a purely question level, it's a great little quiz with a range of topics and some mercilessly difficult offerings, but the pop culture and sport often leans a little too American-centric.

The pack has three of the best games in Jackbox history, appropriately different and therefore able to appeal to all comers in different ways. It feels a little empty without the weirder experimental titles a pack usually has, but it's also coming in cheaper than a full five-game pack and has guaranteed winners. There is nothing new here at all for veterans, but for folks who want to see what Jackbox is all about, or who have played at a friend's house and aren't sure which pack to pick up, this one should be top of the list. It’s The Best of The Beatles, but Jackbox.

Source: Read Full Article