The trend of video games using phones as controllers has led to quite a few solid releases, such as The Jackbox Party Pack series, which has resulted in plenty of zany titles with ridiculous premises that are tied to user creation. The latest party game in this lane is RiffTrax: The Game and it lovingly takes inspiration from MST3K and the age-old tradition of cracking wise over some less-than-stellar film clips. While it’s not a full-fledged triumph, there is more than enough fun here for it to be a new staple at parties.
The game simply has two modes: Write-a-Riff and Pick-a-Riff. Each has the player coming up with a joke line that is delivered at the end of a clip from an old film or television clip under the guise of the audio being lost and it needing to be overdubbed. As the names indicate, one is about writing jokes yourself and being creative, while the other one is selecting pre-written jokes (that are admittedly clever yet rarely cause an audible laugh) from a list. For the most part, Pick-a-Riff is a total miss, as it lacks the creativity and user input that is the lifeblood in these types of games.
An entire game mode being a waste would typically be a major red flag, but thankfully, Write-a-Riff is an absolute blast and is strong enough to be the game’s load-bearing pillar. The premise is straightforward as players vote for who wrote the funniest line at the end of each round, but the presentation has a lot of character due to a fun narrator. The website also works as well as the one the Jackbox titles use and thankfully doesn’t require any app downloads (something that doomed a lot of Sony’s PlayLink titles). All the functionality you’d hope for, such as being able to look at the script if you missed it or to add in sound effects, is there and demonstrates that this is clearly a party game that Wide Right Interactive has been able to polish thanks to its work on What the Dub?!.
Its Twitch integration is yet another showcase of RiffTrax: The Game’s polish. Not only does it let the audience to vote, but streamers can also appoint a moderator to approve or reject potentially offensive suggestions before they’re shown, both of which are thoughtful additions that add to the core party game experience. Because of its strength as a streamable game, it’s well worth checking out a Twitch stream and playing a few rounds before buying the game as you’ll still get to experience its charm, such as the text-to-speech robot occasionally saying words wrong in the most endearing possible way. Plus, you might just make a new acquaintance along the way and find someone whose sense of humor matches your own, which is the best part of these communal experiences.
Ultimately, RiffTrax: The Game shines when played with friends that know each other and are willing to crack some inside jokes within the game. More competitive users might even try to avoid voting for the players that they think are winning by trying to recognize their friends’ writing styles, which makes it all the more fun when you’re surprised that a mild-mannered buddy made the raunchiest joke. It’s these moments that make a party game special and there are plenty of them sprinkled throughout this simple and well-executed premise.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7.5 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.