In the British sketch show Mitchell and Webb, there is a skit in which they are dressed as Nazis; one of them is left looking at the skulls on their caps and asks the other “Are we the baddies?”. You see, most of us think of ourselves as the heroes in our own story. When it comes to games we normally pick the good path – or at least the path we believe is right – instead of the evil or renegade one. I personally can’t stray from doing all things good in-game however much I try to embrace the dark side. In Party Hard 2 though, there is no choice – from the start you choose which psycho killer you want to be and then you are off murdering to your heart’s content. Welcome to the dark side.
The original Party Hard first came out back in 2015 and was all about a man who wants a quiet night’s sleep but is kept awake by the partying going on around him. So he decides to go on a mass killing spree, working like a mix of Hotline Miami and Hitman. It proved to be popular and has spawned this sequel.
Party Hard 2 takes the original concept and story but enhances the gameplay with extra missions and side quests. The story is told through a series of cutscenes that follow our evil protagonist – a guy who lives a very ordinary, monotonous life by day but is found laying in their apartment at night unable to sleep. So the killing begins once more…
There is most definitely a lot more story added in this time around with extra layers focused on drug dealing, human experiments, and a mad plot that feels like it has been ripped straight out of a late-night thriller on Channel 5. It’s ridiculous in its narrative, but I think that’s the point. In the levels themselves, there are little stories bubbling around, with world-building found in the posters you find and the conversations the NPCs and victims will have around you.
The level design is pretty similar to the last game where you are presented with an open area of a level. Each area is different, ranging from a nightclub, to a factory to a hospital. They all have one thing in common though – they are all full of people partying. Your job (or desire) is to complete a number of objectives on that level to finish it. This could be as simple as needing to kill everyone in the room, or taking down a specified number of drug dealers or biker gang members. But then there are always other harder alternatives to completing a mission. In one mission I planted evidence on a dirty cop who was partying (hard) and then got him arrested which helped to end the level. There are also secret objectives to complete like ringing a stripper to distract the guards or giving the shout to the local circus for them to deliver a party bear to cause chaos. Yep. Party bears cause chaos. Who’d have known?
How it works gameplay-wise is that you walk around the party, or running for a short period of time when chased. You are armed with a knife and you can go up to the party-goers and kill them at will. The problem with that method is that the moment a murder happens in the view of others they will run and ring the police. When the police arrive they will spot you, chase you and if they catch you then it’s game over. So what you have to do is be clever and deceitful in your mass-murdering spree. You can take people out who have strayed from the others and then hide the body. It is however with the environmental killing which is where the real fun lies.
With a quick touch of the LB button, you can get an insight into what you can use around you, helping your devious plotting. Push someone into a barbecue to set them on fire, or break the speakers on a dance floor so they blow up – making the song “Murder on the Dancefloor” very on point. These environmental killings are where the real fun of the game occurs and I never got bored with the possibilities on offer in Party Hard 2.
The game is great but it can take a while to complete certain objectives. One level I was on I was working the room, killing them softly, yet the objectives at times felt impossible to complete as the targets don’t move away from the main areas. Also, if you make one small mistake and the level is over, you are left to run the lot again; I could have done with some in-level checkpoints. There are lots of brilliant opportunities though and to get through the entirety of the game will take you a while, no more so when you try and complete some boss battles that are as infuriating as they are clever.
The visuals are a lot of fun, using the old pixelation and retro design that worked so well in the first game. It feels like they’ve really expanded the level design here though, all whilst still keeping the tone of the first. I love seeing the partying people dancing, smoking, and sleeping, and I love it when all hell breaks loose, especially when the environmental carnage takes place. Audio-wise, Party Hard 2 comes with some 90’s-styled film voice-overs in the cutscenes, and some absolutely amazing dance tracks throughout which are transcendent and varied.
If you enjoyed the original Party Hard and want some more killing spree action then you can’t go wrong with Party Hard 2 on Xbox One. There is a whole host of content and multiple different ways to approach each level; that in itself will keep die-hard fans happy for a long while. I have however found the game occasionally frustrating, especially towards the later levels where the lack of checkpoints becomes maddening.