Title: Party Hard
Platform: Steam, Windows
Reviewed on: Windows
Genre: Action, Stealth
Players: Single player
Written by Dragoon 12th September 2015
Have you ever been annoyed by neighbours who throw obnoxiously loud parties at inappropriate times? I sure have and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about heading over there and shutting it down myself. Party Hard by Pinokl Games takes that thought and puts it into murderous motion, you play as a poor guy who just wants some peace and decides to take action. He grabs his knife and starts embedding it in every partygoer he can all across the USA in a rage fuelled rampage. Is this game a party to remember or does it deserve to be crashed?
The story is told from the perspective of Detective West, a man who became personally involved due to the wanton death dealing and was out for revenge. He tells the tale of your killing spree to an investigator which sets up the different levels, the story is fairly typical with the odd twist and turn but as usual with a game like this it’s just there to set up the gameplay.
At first glance you might draw comparisons to the hit game Hotline Miami but the similarities end at the art style, while Hotline Miami was focused on fast paced action Party Hard takes a slower, more methodical pace to its destruction. Your goal is to kill everybody at the party without being caught by the police. There are a variety of environmental hazards which can be used for some quick kills, these can range from throwing someone into a barbeque to feeding them to a hungry panda, and they are randomly placed every time you enter a level so the same tactic won’t always work twice.
Other than those your only other way of killing someone is to stab them with your knife so once you're out of environmental killing points it becomes a matter of patience as you slowly thin the herd one by one. While it makes sense from a stealthy perspective it just becomes tedious and isn’t all that fun. There is a poorly explained dancing mechanic that allows you to annoy people with your moves and make them leave the area in disgust, this is useful for splitting groups but it isn’t really mentioned anywhere obvious, this is a common problem since the tutorial is extremely barebones and the various mechanics are only explained by random tip papers in levels.
If you make a mistake and are spotted killing someone the police will be called and chase after you at lightning speed. It is incredibly hard to escape a cop once they spot you, especially since your character moves so slowly, but their pathfinding AI isn’t great so I found it quite easy to cheese them out by running around a small object or hiding in a nook they couldn’t figure out how to walk in to. Another annoying enemy are the bouncers, they can instantly knock you out if they spot you and end your run so they have to be killed from behind, which wouldn’t be an issue if they didn’t turn around at random moments.
If the police do catch you it’s an instant game over which would be fine if the game didn’t make you watch as the cop knocks you out and slowly carries you to their car before you can restart the level. It doesn’t add anything to the experience and it’s time that could be better spent playing the game rather than tediously watching it.
The game has a dark comedic tone to it with various pop-
These events are pretty fun and well implemented, it keeps you wondering what you will see next and brings out the odd chuckle. There is also a interesting Twitch integration system for streamers that allows viewers to activate these events by typing them in the chat which is a cool little gimmick that helps streamers engage their audience.
A big issue with the game is it’s roller coaster of a difficulty curve. The games first real level is surprisingly difficult due to it’s layout and lack of hazards but the ones following it are fairly easy until you get to the Miami Party level. This level has become infamous in the community for it’s ludicrous difficulty and despite the public outcry to change it the developer has stated that they have no intention to. Overall the difficulty is just is all over the place and could really use some tuning, all they need to do is change the level order or balance out the maps a tad. The developers are active in the community and have taken other complaints into consideration for their updates so hopefully they can work on straightening the curve some.
Party Hard has a great pixel art visual style that suits its humorous theme and gives it some great character. The animations are pretty great for the traps but the human characters move a tad oddly. The games soundtrack is fantastic with some great 80’s inspired techno beats and really matches the gameplay and theme. The sound effects are fairly minimal but are passable. Unfortunately the voice acting in the story scenes is pretty bad, it sounds really phoned in and hammy.
Overall Party Hard is a fun little game at first but it gets tedious pretty fast, it has a great art style and soundtrack and it can be pretty funny at times. The gameplay could use some work with a better explanation of it’s mechanics and some better AI. While it may not be a party for the ages it definitely isn’t a bad time, it’s more like a student party that is fun at first but gets out of hand fast and goes on longer than it should.
Good dark humour,
Weird difficulty curve,
Annoying/tedious gameplay elements,
Bad voice acting and generic story.
Party Hard takes a stab at a 6/10.