I guess I’m just not getting sleep tonight.
When first hearing about the premise to Party Hard, I immediately said I had to play this game. Basically, the game’s story is about a person who gets woken up by his partying neighbors at 3am and decides that if he is going to get any sleep tonight, he must go over to the party and violently murder everyone there. It sounds ridiculous and it is, but unfortunately, the actual game play is slow, unreliable, and completely random.
The game plays out on a single screen where players must maneuver around the party location and stealthily kill all the people in the building. This can be done by simply stabbing them with the knife the character always has, using traps to inconspicuously end them, or by random things in the environment going haywire. Sounds easy on paper, but when I actually sat down to attempt this, it was far more difficult than I imagined.
Platforms: XB1, PC
Price I’d pay: $5
I must do things in a stealthy way because if I’m spotted stabbing someone by another party person, they run for the nearest telephone and call the police. When the police show up, they make a beeline for me and if they catch me, I’m arrested and have to start the level over. And with the very first level requiring me to kill 40 people without ever getting caught, it became a test of patience. Waiting for people to go into a secluded room like a bathroom or waiting for some to pass out from all the booze they had been drinking to take out a few people would be the best bet.
Using traps like bad electrical wiring, or cutting down a tree to fall on people will help thin out the crowd, as well as keep people from thinking it was me. They will spot a body, call the cops and the cops will just put the body into a body bag and leave without ever looking for me. I could also “blend in” with the crowd by using the dance button. This can also be used to either attract people to an area or make them uncomfortable and make them move to a more private location where I could then do my deed. Dance too much around the wrong person and I’d get my ass kicked by some of the party people. Since I can’t dance in real life, it fits.
The biggest issue with the game, besides a lack of really any real tutorial other than a three minute mission showing off the controls, is the complete randomness of most everything. While the traps stay the same for the level, where people are and what they do is completely randomized, and while some would say that adds a lot to the game, I found it to be Party Hard’s downfall. Since failing once means a complete restart of the level, it then harkens back to trial and error game play, but because no one is in the same place as they were before or doing the same things every time, trial and error methods are out the window. So I’m basically playing this game by the seat of my pants, and if I screw up once, well, I get to start all over. It became a frustrating ordeal over the course of a couple of hours.
Now I do really love the art style and the looks and interactive things in each level. No one level is the same, and some of the traps are genuinely fun to see. On top of that, the soundtrack is one of the best things about the game. I have already looked up the OST just to hear it outside of the game. It’s really that good.
The overall presentation is well done too. It has the trappings of a fun, ridiculous game, but in the end, the game play is far too difficult and far too unforgiving for most people. Fans of hardcore stealth game like the old school Hitman titles may get a lot out of Party Hard, but players thinking this is a action title with a wild premise will be in for a frustrating time. It has a lot going for it, but the gameplay relies far too much on pinpoint execution with no errors, and because many things are random, I end up learning nothing from my last run of the levels.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.