When I reviewed the Jackbox Party Pack 7, I was stunned. Usually, these bundles include a couple of fun games and a few you never touch, but this was different. The seventh pack was perfect, with no true duds in the group. Unfortunately, the eighth go-round couldn’t continue that trend. It’s still, on average, worth the buy-in price. But a couple of games are party-killing land mines.
For those who aren’t familiar, Jackbox Party Packs are an annual series of minigame collections from Jackbox Games, the makers of games like You Don’t Know Jack. Each pack comes with five games, usually with a variety of play styles so no matter how your group likes to play, there’s something you can all enjoy. In recent packs, the company has settled into a balance of drawing, wordplay, trivia, and/or social deduction games, without relying too heavily on each.
And this time around, it’s the drawing game that knocked it out of the park.
I Cannot Stress Enough How Good Drawful: Animate Is
The unambiguous stand-out star of this pack is Drawful: Animate, and it’s not even close. The two previous versions of Drawful had largely the same premise: You get a prompt and have to draw what it suggests, other players write in suggestions for what they think the title you received was, and then everyone guesses what the correct title was. It’s a simple formula that has worked for years.
The latest iteration adds one seemingly minor innovation. Now, players can draw a second frame. The first will be visible, in slightly lighter coloring, and the two will alternate in a loop when presented to the audience. It has the feel of very crude movie storyboards, but the effect on the gameplay is significant.
Now, you’re not just stuck drawing stick figures or static images. Your doodles can explode, transform, melt, fly away. In short, they can move. This opens up a range of creative possibilities. Better yet, the player who drew the animation gets a slider to speed it up or slow it down.
This is where Jackbox games are at their best. Simple rules that give players plenty of room for creative expression. That does mean this game can vary widely based on how much your group engages with it, but at least it’s accessible and fun.
And on the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s …
Weapons Drawn Was So Confusing We Couldn’t Play It
Jackbox has leaned more heavily on social deduction games in recent packs—the kind where you suspect your friends of various crimes or deceptions and have to work out who’s lying—but they’re hard to get right. A game like this needs clear rules, mechanics to both deceive other players and discern the truth, and just enough plot to keep players engaged without overwhelming them.
Weapons Drawn, unfortunately, fails at most of these tasks. At the start of the game, players are told they are all world-famous detectives attending a fancy party where there might be murders. They’re asked to draw a prompt that must include a provided letter from their name. Then they have to draw a second drawing with a different prompt but using the same letter. Then they must pick a name for their accomplice.