Party Hard is a 2D top-down, retro inspired game mixing stealth & strategy where the aim is to murder the noisy party goers that are keeping Darius from getting any sleep.
What begins as the mass murder of a noisey bunch of college students turns into the Party Hard Killings of Autumn, 2000. The story is told out in well voiced framing scenes that take place between the levels. We hear Detective John West detailing what happened during this time as the killings got very personal for him.
Developed by Pinokl Games, the concept is simple; you have your location (from a wide range including beaches, clubs & even a yacht) & a set number of party goers that need to be wiped out. Killing someone is as easy as walking up to them & pressing a button to stab them. Killing is easy…getting away with it is where the real difficulty lies.
Stealth is very important here as walking onto a dance floor & stabbing as many people as quickly as you can will just see the rest panic & call the police on you. No, you need to bide your time, waiting for people to separate before offing them. Then you’ve got to try & hide the body but these locations are limited so it’s inevitable that one of your murders is going to be noticed.
The good thing here is that as long as you weren’t seen committing the act or are in the vicinity when the body is discovered, the police will be called & be none the wiser especially if you blend in by hitting the dance button. It’s a game of cat & mouse as you begin to pick off your victims but you can also set level specific traps to help you trim the numbers down. These will cause panic though & there is little chance of hiding the bodies afterwards.
Should you be caught the police will be on your tail but it is possible to evade them by using passageways. They will give up after a short while giving you the chance to carry on butchering your way through the crowds. However each time the police are called, the faster & more determined they become so it’s only a matter of time before you’re caught.
Get caught & its game over, forcing you to restart the level.
It’s even possible to get the FBI called in should you manage to kill 2 police officers (not an easy task at all).
There is variety in the levels but visually it can be a bit of a mess, the pixelated characters blending in to the backgrounds & each other. If you’ve got sight issues you’ll struggle here as everything is so small. It’s not a pretty game but it doesn’t really matter because it’s a lot of fun to play even if it can be very difficult.
Later levels add security to levels & these guys can be really tough to get around. As soon as they see you where you shouldn’t be they will chase you for a short while & should they catch you they will effectively beat you to death!
At the end of the level you’re overall points are added up, these are gained through stabbing & killing in quick succession will see your combo multiplier increase.
It’s not exactly an important part of the experience but it adds some replay value. Although you’ll be replaying enough levels anyway as you get busted or killed time after time. The game goes with a disco-inspired soundtrack that is initially fun but quickly becomes tiresome as it loops over & over again. This is made worse by having to replay levels & you’ll likely be reaching for the mute button before long.
There are 5 characters you can play as with only Darius available at the start. Others are unlocked by reaching certain conditions (the chainsaw wielding maniac is unlocked by killing 1000 party-goers overall, the ninja, by completing a level without a single body being found). Each offers something different & forces you to adapt your play style.
Patience is a big part of Party Hard, attempting to rush will just see you end up dead or in jail. You have to wait for your chance, follow these pixelated bags of meat around until you’ve finally got a chance to strike. Or you could just start the engine on that tractor & watch it plow through a group standing around a warm fire.
However you chose to commit your murders…it’s addictive & a lot of fun. Just be prepared for some frustration.