There was a time in University when parties were an extremely regular occurrence. The hot chicks would be dancing, the luscious beers would be flowing and the badass tunes would be pumping, however, much to my dismay, I would unfortunately be tucked up next door in my fruitless attempt to get some much-needed shut-eye, ’cause, you know… it sucks to be me. Nevertheless, to my credit, I was never a party-pooper and never once stormed over there and told those noisy blighters what for. Party Hard is much like my said predicament, but with more… knives. Instead of my tolerant, laid-back approach, Party Hard goes for a much more direct plan of attack, which is less about being a party-pooper, and more about being a party… mass murderer. Yeah, don’t try this at home folks…
Party Hard is a semi-procedural stealth murder-em-up where you are tasked with dispatching your raucous neighbour’s party one-by-one using only your faithful knife and the environment around you. It’s in your best interests to keep a low profile and not get spotted while you’re busy picking off your unsuspecting victims, as the various party-goers will not react well if they witness any funny business.
Cops are only a phone call away and can prove to be a royal pain in the ass, as they somehow possess, in this game at least, a sixth sense that can sniff you out, even if you’re on the other side of the damn screen – who the heck hired Columbo? Essentially, your primary goal in Party Hard is not only killing the dozens of party-goers, but evading the cops and the beady eyes of your inebriated victims as well. Dancing and blending in to the crowd is a big part of keeping the party-goers suspicions on the down-low and is super important to make it through the fifteen or so challenging levels that Party Hard throws at you. Luckily, the levels are littered with environmental hazards just asking to be unleashed on your unsuspecting victims in some silly, comical way. These range from exploding gumball machines, to loose electric wires, to rickety amps and dodgy electrical dancefloors – someone really needs to call an electrician. The plethora of unique and often downright ridiculous ways of slaying the poor, innocent party-goers is definitely one of Party Hard‘s biggest draws.
Unfortunately, Party Hard just doesn’t quite have that addictive ‘one more go’ feeling nailed down and it’s hard to not shake off the overly familiar themes and audio-visual cues taken from the infinitely superior Hotline Miami series. Levels last about half-an-hour but often drag and chug along at what often feels like a snail’s pace, especially if you’re like me and try your best to be meticulous with your slashing, which is really how you’ll want to play Party Hard as getting busted by the cops half way through a level will make your eyes roll at the prospect of all the busy-work murdering you’ll have to endure to get back to where you were. There are some moments when things come together; hastily changing into someone elses’ clothes and blending into the crowd to evade the cops can be a bit of a thrill, but these moments are sadly too far and between.
To Party Hard‘s credit the pixel-art is charmingly pieced together, especially if you’re like me and aren’t tired of the retro pixel-art resurgence that has taken indie games by storm. The music is unfortunately very hit-and-miss. The opening disco-dance theme is great and really gets you in the mood for some hardcore slashing, but too many of the songs across Party Hard‘s levels are unbearably short, repetitive and generic faux dance tunes that are mundane on first listen, let alone, the hundredth.
Party Hard is not a bad game by any means, but it’s just not a particularly fun one. Without that addictive ‘one more go’ feeling that other games of its ilk employ so effectively, Party Hard becomes much more of a chore than a game about murdering a drunken party should. Ultimately, Party Hard‘s premise is way more interesting than the actual game and so, for many, this maybe a party worth skipping.
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