The last time I did anything that included Party and Hard in the description was back in 2001. It was after a long day drinking, when I woke up in in a toilet cubicle and convinced myself I could speak fluent German. I was in Berlin at the time and I tried my new found skill out on nearby Germans with very little success. Nowadays my partying involves the Xbox Live kind and a mug of hot chocolate after 11. So what could I get from this little indie game with a fun title…well it was not what I was expecting.
A detective involved in a serial killer case tells the plot of the story. He tells a story of a man who is woken up at 3am by a party downstairs. The man then goes downstairs and kills everyone at the party with a knife. The murderer then goes across America, killing other party folks in more incredible locations. Soon he has copycat followers who start doing the same thing…
The game is played out through a 2D top down view of a whole party level with all your rooms, people and objects on view. Much like the first GTA games, or more recently the Hotline Miami games, you view a party. These parties change their locations, whether it is a backyard barbecue or a posh high-rise penthouse party. There are different rooms, entrances and exits into the location, as well as plenty of escape routes. There are a number of partygoers at the event and your gruesome task is to kill them all.
Now, you could just go in there stabbing away like a extra from the Scream movies, but that wouldn’t end well as the police will arrive, you will be identified and arrested on the spot. Party Hard wants you to isolate your victims and hide the bodies – or at least throw them to the sharks or off a skyscraper or…you get the idea. The real sparkle to this game are the traps. Here you get to spark something off; like getting a cooker to explode in a kitchen full of drinkers, or finding a horse which can kick a reveler to death. You can even poison the punch or call up some zombies. These are brilliant fun and delightful with numerous inventive ways for people to get killed. These are randomly generated each time which is a nice surprise as you tackle a level for the hundredth time.
Both the movement and controls in Party Hard are easy to pick up. The game is simple in its execution and there are around 12 levels or parties to attack. This isn’t easy though as you only really find out what works the best through trial and error. Something which leads to yourself dying or getting arrested a lot. The game difficulty ramps up as you go on, with exits and secret hideaways getting locked up the further you progress. Keeping secret in the crowd while having an effective killing spree becomes very hard indeed, but there is a brilliantly addictive nature to Party Hard that urges you to try and cull the whole crowd. And when you get down to the final two it becomes a nail biting finish to the end.
Looks wise the game employs the retro look of those games I mentioned at the start of my review and it even has a save icon of a floppy disc going into a hard drive. This style works well with the cut-scene comic book intros to each level, something which is a familiar trope when playing this kind of game. However I am getting a bit bored of these homage style games. When they first appeared it was funny and a nice nod to the past, but I feel the look has once again dated itself. Sheltered and Oxenfree do something different and interesting with the genre, but Party Hard feels a bit tired. Of course it’s a solid look for the game without being anything utterly remarkable.
In an audio sense, the game has a very catchy 80’s synth tune that doesn’t get annoying even though by all odds it should have you pulling your hair out in the first two minutes of hearing it. There are some very nice effects used by the designer, especially the terrifying screams employed by your victims. It’s truly a remarkable experience when they go into a panic, running around blindly screaming and you are sat there trying to keep order by murdering. Yep, I realise I’m becoming to sound very deranged indeed.
There’s a surprisingly addictive game here to play, and I found myself going back again and again to try to complete a level. Sometimes I found the experience a bit buggy with partygoers getting stuck in objects or not dying, but generally the game works very well. The idea and concept is very original and at times highly entertaining however formulaic you find it gets. It should take you around six hours to complete the game, or maybe much quicker if you are a better, more evil psychopath then me. The game is retailing at just over £10 which is a real shame, as if they could have got it under a tenner I would have happily added another star to the review.
Overall and Party Hard has a great conception and interesting premise, with a knowing story arc. The graphics and tone let it down for me though as I feel the retro style is getting a bit tired. But if we see it going down in price a bit, then I would highly recommend a bit of partying hard with a knife and a murder in your eye.