Hey you, do you like to dance? Does the music make you groove beside hot guys and girls until the sun comes up? Do you have a whole night to kill? Do you love to stalk unsuspecting prey, Hitman style?
You do?! GREAT! Party Hard is the game for you, you ******* monster!
At it’s core Party Hard is a puzzle game, one that rewards repeated play-throughs of locations. The goal is simple, make your way through the collection of people located at a party without getting caught in the act of murder. This is done through a mix of one on one stabbings and trap set up. You might corner a victim and end their life by pushing them off a roof when no one is looking, or you could trigger a timed explosion with the speakers set up locally.
It’s a simple set up and all the interactive items in a specific stage are very obvious and easy to use. You walk over, select what you want to use and it will activate immediately or a timer will start up.
The depth comes from learning the general layout of a specific space and maximising the collateral damage caused while minimising the likelihood of your getting caught. For the most part it’s a fun title to play around with, each time you reload a level the layout of items will tweak a little. This does keep some of the gameplay fresh, but is not so big a change each time as to be disruptive.
It takes very little time to learn how most items and traps work too, so seeing a new one appear shouldn’t ever really be a problem. Despite this the game is often quite, problematic.
The first issue comes from the games A.I. You will quite often trigger an event, and think you are safely away from possible suspicion , only to have the police arrive and immediately hunt you down. It’s sometimes impossible to know exactly how far away people have to be to not see you. Worse still sometimes in level events; other characters getting into fights and the like; can cause you to again get arrested.
There are also VIP areas protected by security in some stages. These spots cause the security to rush you if you stray into them at all. This beat-down will end the current run and cause you to restart a stage. While having characters you are required to avoid or find creative solutions to dealing with is neat, its often entirely impossible to know exactly what triggers these characters attacks. On more than one occasion they would attack for simply walking anywhere near the VIP areas.
This on top of a slow movement speed for your character and some other issues with A.I. Can see levels being repeated over and over again. When you’ve taken a good fifteen minuets getting a near perfect run, these hiccups can be frustrating.
Party Hard has some fun moments though. There is a real satisfaction to plotting out a string of murders and seeing them pulled off smoothly.
Once a stage you can also go up to one of the phones in a given party and trigger the arrival of a bonus event. Sometimes this can just be an item vendor whom you can get extra weapons and tools for offing revellers but other times this can be an entirely unexpected occurrence. One highlight being the arrival of a zombie attack that slowly turned all the party goers into a mass of the undead. These stage exclusive events are often fun but come with as much risk as they do reward.
There’s a slim story here too, covering the police and their hunt for the ‘Party Hard’ killer. It’s not super in depth and is obviously not voice acted by professionals, but it shows that the developers were trying and its interesting enough to carry your first run through the game.
Party Hard is a fun but flawed puzzle slasher that is ok when taken in small chunks but can often feel unfairly hard at times. If you want to try it for yourself, check it out on Steam and on consoles today.
Robin Smith is a freelance journalist and contributor to PN2. Go say hi @seiibutsu.