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Jul 01, 2022

The Jackbox Party Starter Review

Lights Off
4 Awesome
Retails for: $19.99
We Recommend: $9.99
  • Developer: Jackbox Games
  • Publisher: Jackbox Games
  • Genre: Party Games
  • Released: Jun 30, 2022
  • Platform: Windows, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 5, Switch
  • Reviewed: Windows

The long-running Jackbox series has been a mainstay of the modern game night for many friends and families since 2014. But with eight releases, I wouldn’t blame anyone for having hesitation on what to buy first. Welcome the new Jackbox Party Starter. Including three fan-favorite games, each highlighting what you can expect from a Jackbox Party Pack. Is this taste of the Jackbox experience a good reflection, or is it even worth the introductory pricing?


If you’re unfamiliar with the series, the Jackbox Party games usually task up to eight friends to battle it out over various party games. The Jackbox series uses the web browser on your phone, tablet, or pc to play the game, and in this age where it is more common to have access to a smartphone than a controller, nearly anyone can hop in. Utilizing the smartphone makes that barrier of entry even easier for a general audience. Jackbox games make that browser experience as simple as possible for even the less technologically-savvy players. Typically a standard Jackbox Party Pack includes around five games and commands a $30 price point. To dip your toes and give you a taste, the Party Starter consists of three games and only asks for a crisp $20 from you.

While you may think that the three games here are ripped straight out of the Party Packs they’re from, a few new accessibility options have been baked into these games. Five additional localization settings, profanity filtering, subtitles, family modes, moderation, and more have been crafted into these updated titles, so drumroll, what three have Jackbox Games decided on? For starters, one of their most popular titles, Quiplash, makes it into the collection with Quiplash 3. Arguably one of their most “re-markable” art-inspired games in Tee K.O. also joins the battle. Rounding out the three, Jackbox Games tickles out trivia bones and brings us back into the spooky world of Trivia Murder Party 2.


Quiplash 3

Again, Quiplash is probably the most recognizable game in the Jackbox library. In the same category of fill-in-the-blank games as Fibbage and Mad Verse City, Quiplash tasks players with coming up with witty responses to either make their friends laugh or cringe. Without knowing who created the answers, players vote on the best responses, awarding points to the winner; most points at the end of the game win. As I mentioned earlier, Quiplash is one of the most recognizable, and that’s because it hits at the nature of what you will be doing in these Party Pack Games. Use your creativity to try and get a good chuckle out of your party. In Quiplash 3, as compared to its previous two installments, you can do custom episodes and tailor the gameplay experience to your group of friends.


Tee K.O

What an excellent choice for this pack; not only are you giving an example of what the drawing aspect is like in the Jackbox series, representing games like Drawful, but they went with the one with the greatest feeling of action. Where Drawful feels slow and methodical, Tee K.O takes the atmosphere and kicks it up to 11. Theming around high-energy martial arts, the players battle it out over who can design the best T-Shirts. So yes, you’ll have to draw a picture on your device and get creative. Unfortunately, the drawing games in the Jackbox series aren’t for everyone and tend to take the longest. Plus, not everyone is comfortable with drawing, so if there were a game in the pack to have folks bow out, it’s probably this one. Even with that in mind, Tee K.O can lead to some of the funniest moments in your party setting. After you’ve drawn three pictures, the game tasks you with coming up with as many phrases as possible. Make’em funny, make them dumb, or write something nonsensical. Whatever you choose, make a ton within the time frame. After that portion, the game gives the players sets of T-shirt designs and phrases. You, as the player, then put together the drawings and phrases to make a T-Shirt. Once completed, the T-shirt design with the most votes moves on to battle the next shirt in a winner-stays-on competition.


Trivia Murder Party 2

What would a Jackbox game be without a bit of trivia? The series started with You Don’t Know Jack, so it’s their bread-and-butter. I was a little surprised they went with the Trivia Murder Party over You Don’t Know Jack, but I’m sure they have the metrics that say the Murder Party games are more engaging. Why else include the dark and gloomy atmosphere of Murder Party over the quirky game show trappings of a You Don’t Know Jack? In their defense, Trivia Murder Party 2 adds more flourish around the edges over its first incarnation, but the game is mostly the same. Answer Trivia questions on your quest to make it to the end alive and with the most cash. You’re pitted in a mini-game for your life if you get a question wrong. Some games are strictly life-or-death, while others may throw in some bonus cash your way if you win. There are even ways to revive yourself before the end, so even if you’re out early, the other players should never count you out. Honestly, this is probably the weakest of the three titles, but at the same time, it is also an example of what you can expect trivia to be like in the Jackbox series. I believe this one will be the most divisive for families with its darker horror tones. I feel You Don’t Know Jack would have been the better choice, even if that series of games can be a little more adult-oriented with its humor and get a little hammy with its host Cookie Masterson.


Overall, I think this is an excellent package for new players to test the waters of the Jackbox series. I even think it’s a wonderful package to have in your library if you already own these in separate party packs, for the sheer fact that you can get Quiplash 3 and Tee K.O. within the same launcher. At $20, though, I find that pill a little harder to swallow, considering $10 can usually get you two more games in any of the other packs, but tossing in two outstanding games under one launcher is gold. Maybe one-day Jackbox games can whip up some launcher that incorporates all eight (and more in the future, hopefully) titles under one wrapper, and you don’t have to wait to boot up different games to play specific titles. Until then, to get a little taste of the core experiences in the Jackbox series, the Jackbox Party Starter is the way to go.

Steam code was provided in advance by the publisher for review purposes