“Now it’s time to party and we’ll party hard!” Obvious Andrew W.K. references aside, this is Party Hard. A game not about partying to my surprise, but about stopping them in a way much like it would go down in Scream or any other 90’s horror film, with a knife and some well-timed “accidents”. It started it’s life as a game jam idea, from developers Pinkol Games, it garnered some buzz from various sources on the internet so they decided to do the next best thing and create a whole game, but how does it hold up as a full release?
At its core, this game is a puzzle game. A puzzle game where you want to stop the party going on next door so that you can get some sleep, which you do by killing them all and not getting caught in the process. You can do the basic thing of kill people with your knife and hide the bodies, or go for a more adventurous route by blowing up stoves or setting fires to go off when you’re not in the room. If a body is found the police will get called to the scene, who will then put the body in a bag and go away. But if you get caught in the act, you have to run away from the cops by using one of the predetermined escape routes, which wile useful are a one-time only thing, as they will get closed off, leaving you a little more vulnerable while you do your deeds.
The game, for its pretty horrific nature, has a very comical and campy style when it comes to its gameplay and aesthetic and it works a treat. Patrons of the parties can be dancing with blinged out gold chain wearing bears, or passed out on the floor from being too drunk, or even trying to get close to each other in a quiet corner of the party. The sandbox style of approach to the gameplay is also a positive, you can play the levels however you choose to, and with the randomisation of drops and layouts, you can replay the same level in a few different ways. The music, while not on the awesome level of soundtracks such as Hotline Miami or the recently remade Killer Instinct, is still a good listen to in its own right, and serves as a great backdrop to all your murdering. Another feature the game has is Twitch integration, whereby you can stream the game, and your watching audience can have an affect on your game, not quite to the extent that Choice Chamber does with literally changing how your character plays or what weapons they have, but they can vote on things like calling in a SWAT team or having weapon drops appear within the level.
It’s far from a perfect game though. While the killing is fun at first, once you’ve cleared a party down to its last handful of patrons it turns into a game of chase the aimlessly wondering AI and stab them, hide the body and do it all again. The gameplay as a whole is a little slow for my own personal taste, and this is probably more to do with the fact that the game bears an uncanny resemblance to Hotline Miami in aesthetic and tone, yet doesn’t share it’s breakneck speed and fast reactionary gameplay I enjoy so much, instead opting for a more slower paced and sometimes methodical (but not always thanks to seemingly completely random AI) killing methods and while this is no fault of the game’s own, for me personally at least it was slow enough to detract from the overall experience. Another complaint would be the interactivity, while some objects are fairly straight forward, press on the gas canister to start a fire, some seemed less obvious, like what on earth does me breaking a bookshelf do? In places it doesn’t explain itself very well.
Overall, the game is a novel idea playing on the slasher films of the 90’s to murder a bunch of probably young adults in a party that’s way too loud, and they’re all too stupid to even notice what’s going on most of the time. And while it does what it does well, much like those 90’s slasher films, when they drag on with the same idea it becomes a little boring and my attention wanes. It can be a little slow and tedious, but if you like the idea of being the next Scream or Michael Myers, then this might just be for you.
+ Campy and comical aesthetic
+ Sandbox-style gameplay
+ Twitch integration is a coel, novel idea
– Pace of the game can be a turn off for some
– Ends of levels kill the pace completely