Welcome back to our weekly gaming-plans thread—as always, tell us what you’re playing in the comments. This weekend, I’ll be playing Fibbage, a party game of trivia and deception from Jackbox Games. That’s the studio responsible for the king of all trivia video games, You Don’t Know Jack, and since the folks over there know that I’m a huge Jack fan, they sent me a download code for their latest creation. And now Fibbage has me regularly firing up the Xbox One for the first time in months.
When game critics talk about “console exclusives,” we’re usually talking about big-budget fare like the upcoming Sunset Overdrive and Bloodborne, but smaller games like Fibbage, a de facto Xbox One exclusive for now, are almost as important as the new consoles slowly build up their libraries. (Fibbage isn’t technically exclusive to the Xbox One, as it’s also available for the Amazon Fire TV, but nobody has an Amazon Fire TV.) I want a console to offer games that will occupy me for hours, sure, but I also like to have games that I can play for 20 minutes, too. In Fibbage, the Xbox One has a real winner in the latter category.
Each question in Fibbage presents an obscure piece of trivia with an essential piece of information left out. Your task is to fill in that blank with a shrewd lie that will fool your opponents into thinking it’s the truth. After everyone has come up with their lie, the game presents them all in multiple-choice format—with the real answer mixed in—and you have to pick out the truth from the deception.
One of Fibbage’s ingenious strokes is that players use their own smartphone or tablet to connect to a simple web-based interface and input their answers, so you don’t need more than one controller to play with a bunch of people—a frequent sticking point for console party games.
And there’s another side effect of this setup. I was exchanging emails with one of the game’s head writers, Arnie Niekamp, and he told me that shortly after Fibbage was released, his team realized that “without doing it intentionally, we’ve made a game that works pretty well over Twitch.” Since everybody uses their phone’s web browser to interact with the game, players don’t have to be in the same room; they just need to see what’s on the screen. So people have been setting up Twitch broadcasts for their Fibbage games—to join in, a viewer simply has to go to fibbage.com and enter the on-screen “room code” into their phone. (Niekamp says that Jackbox’s developers have taken note of online players’ ingenuity and are looking to make upcoming releases Twitch-friendly, too.) Microsoft has been trying to make the smartphone-console marriage work for some time now, with limited success, but Jackbox gets it right.