The new “Jackbox Party Pack 8” that debuts Oct. 14 is filled with four new games and one sequel to a classic that company CEO Mike Bilder labeled a fan favorite. It’s a solid pack that has plenty of hits, including one standout new title that may help friends get to know each other better.

‘Drawful Animate’ is immediately delightful

“Drawful Animate” is a crowd pleaser and everyone I played with enjoyed it immensely. It’s a bit reminiscent of an animation flipbook. The objective is to draw a phrase, following a prompt given by the game, and make the drawing as obvious as possible, so friends are more likely to guess what you’ve sketched. The other players’ goal are to craft prompts that could be mistaken for the correct answer. The artist wins points when people guess the correct prompt, and other players win points when they successfully deceive the crowd into choosing their answer.

Everyone had fun with the animation features, creating avatars that winked, cried, or were some sort of monster within these two-frame animations.

Like previous Jackbox games, it’s helpful to have a strong knowledge of the people you’re playing with, and it’s extra fun to fool them using those insights. But Drawful Animate also has a twist to keep things interesting. Multiple times, the computer tricked players with prompts that contained typos or phrases that sounded too human. When the correct answer was revealed in these rounds, we’d exclaim in shock as a group.

“We know people really enjoy ‘Drawful.’ And so trying to expand on a formula that already works, what could we do with it?” said Jackbox CEO Mike Bilder. “It’s basically the same game and adds some different prompts because some of them can evoke motion or momentum or action of some sort, as opposed to just a static drawing. But other than that, it plays very tried and true to the ‘Drawful’ formula.”

‘The Wheel of Enormous Proportions’ is kind of a mess

There are two games in this pack that feel like they’re smashing together elements that don’t necessarily fit together. In “The Wheel of Enormous Proportions,” those elements are trivia and spinning a wheel of chance. The goal in this game is to earn a chance to have your submitted question answered by the powers of the universe. You accomplish this by accumulating points through answering trivia questions and spinning the wheel. When you hit 20,000 points, you have a chance at spinning the winner’s wheel to try to end the game.

Trivia is how Jackbox got its start, so that’s a natural fit. But spinning the wheel is a more random element that can be jarring. When asked about it, Bilder explained that Jackbox developers wanted to make a game where the “Trivial Pursuit” expert doesn’t automatically win by default. Instead, the underdog, who may not know all 11 Shakespeare plays by name, can sneak a win if they’re lucky enough.

“The problem that you have traditionally with trivia games like ‘Trivial Pursuit’ is if you’re not the smartest person in the room, you don’t have fun playing that game, because someone is just dominating,” Bilder said. "['Trivia Murder Party’ in previous Jackbox titles] tries to get over that defeatist moment of trivia where you just feel like you’re stupid or you don’t feel like you’re the smartest person in the room. So that wheel is a similar thing and adds a mechanic to it that has some randomness to it.”

The element of luck can upset a game, and maybe upset some friends in the process. In one game I played, my friend and I were going toe-to-toe, but at the last minute, the person who had consistently been in fourth place won through a combination of well-timed trivia answers and some extraordinarily lucky spins. Her surprise victory made the fictional rivalry between me and my nemesis feel cheap and pointless.

‘Job Job’ is a tongue-in-cheek jab at capitalism

This will be a hit with wordsmiths, such as with my co-workers. “Job Job” is a game about a job interview where you’re aiming to impress by stringing together words provided by other players in the game who had been prompted with extremely bizarre questions.

When I played this with the Launcher crew, everyone came up with witty answers for the initial set of prompts, so there was a deep well of creative material to pull from. When I reprised this game with a different set of friends, none of whom particularly love words, their responses were dry and to the point, and their job interview answers were one-to-three words long. I had written a saga, in comparison.

The fun value of “Job Job” will depend on the creativity of your fellow players.

‘Poll Mine:’ The star of Party Pack 8

“Poll Mine” is the standout of the pack. The art direction is very unusual, featuring little toads, crows, dwarves and other fantasy creatures. It’s designed by the same folks who made “Push the Button” in Jackbox Party Pack 6, which had a distinctive style and science-fiction world-building that felt a step above the other games in the pack. “Poll Mine” honors that legacy with an immersive little world of caves, where you and other players are critters searching for torches and a way out, hoping to avoid beasts and demons.

The rest of the game is essentially like the game show “Family Feud.” Players are divided into two teams. Each player answers a question — like, “which of these toppings would you have on ice cream?” or “what will you do after retirement?” — and they must rank their answers from favorite to least favorite. After everyone has ranked their choices, the game calculates the most popular answers, one through eight. Then each team guesses the most popular choice. In some rounds, players are asked for the least popular choice, or the second most popular choice. “Poll Mine” has additional audience features, allowing audiences to vote and affect the rankings. After the game comes out, that could make things a lot more fun.

Depending on how well you know the other players, “Poll Mine” takes on an additional level of intrigue. For instance, all of my friends knew I was the only one in our group who enjoys working out, so for the choice “Stay fit, live forever” to the question “What will you do after retirement?” they ranked very low. But sometimes, people could be surprising. I thought all of my friends were kindhearted, charitable people, so I thought they might rank “Helping others” high on the list of things to do after retirement. They did not.

As someone who has played Jackbox games pretty much since they’ve been around, I find the best iterations are the ones that push you to understand your friends more, to tap into their psyches and senses of humor. “Poll Mine” fulfills that.

‘Weapons Drawn’ can be confusing

“Weapons Drawn” is the most involved game in the pack. It’s a murder mystery party, where everyone is simultaneously a murderer and a detective. To pull off these murders, players have to hide their calling cards, literally a letter from the alphabet, inside drawings. They bring an accomplice to the party in the evening, and some of these accomplices are murdered. When these crimes are presented, this same group of villains is called upon to identify the calling card of the killer by matching it to a second drawing that each player submitted.

It’s a very complicated game. I had to explain the instructions to my friends over four times in addition to the game’s tutorials, and two of them still complained afterward that they were confused. I’ve also played with people who understand the game immediately and even crafted deceitful strategies, so your mileage may vary depending on the company. I managed to avoid being caught as the killer in most rounds simply because I scribbled all over the calling cards so thoroughly that people just surrendered because they couldn’t identify the letter.

“Weapons Drawn” is a more risky pick for nightly entertainment than the other games in the pack. The fear of needing to explain myself a fifth time is enough to turn me away from suggesting this as a group activity. I would need to play with people who are intensely into gaming for them to keep up with this convoluted option, and having played “Among Us” with people who are just like that, it can be an exhausting endeavor.

Overall

“Jackbox Party Pack 8” is a bundle of mostly entertaining games. Two of them — “The Wheel of Enormous Proportions” and “Weapons Drawn” — don’t always work. “Poll Mine” is exceedingly good. Taken together, “Party Pack 8” is a solid addition to a franchise that keeps attracting more players while they largely stay home during the pandemic.

At a relatively low price of under $30 that can be shared with up to eight players for many games, “Jackbox Party Pack 8” feels like a solid addition to a growing franchise that can offer joy while some people are still reluctant about going outside.