Party Hard is a unique serial killer simulator released in 2015 that attempts to combine dark comedy with enjoyable gameplay and gruesome, but calculated murder. The result was a huge hit with the Steam version of the game receiving very positive reviews from thousands of gamers. With a pixel art landscape, stealth objectives, and various strategies to enact in order to achieve your goals, players must take out certain members (or the entire crowd) of an ongoing party. This has to happen with the least disruption and panic as to avoid being caught by the police. Witnesses are also not good!
Tons of Easter eggs, hidden objectives, and secret interactive objects leading surprising and satisfying moments are present in the original and in the sequel. Party Hard 2 is different in a number of ways, and gradually provides more reasoning behind the events of the two games.
STORY / CHARACTERS
The reputation of our playable killer has been rising over his decade of slaughter. The second game is set 10 years after the events of the original. The main character also has a voice this time around and will eventually answer for his crimes. In the meantime, he decides to speak to some of his victims in the form of comic-book style cut-scenes giving us more insight as to what’s going on and why. Part of his crusade seems to revolve around a strong anti-drug belief and a general disgust for the uselessness of most human behavior.
There are also some new playable characters in Party Hard 2, that are unlocked through playing the game. Each character has their own special powers which can be activated by holding down R on the keyboard. Here’s the full cast of characters:
- Party Hard Killer
The original. Now known as the most efficient killer of the 21st century, and finally given a voice to express himself. His special ability is Party Vision, skill is Multi-Kill, and main weapon is Knife.
Recognizing that the game can be an overwhelming challenge for some, this character was created as a way to play the game essentially on ‘Easy’ without the achievements and item unlock abilities gained through solving the game’s challenges normally.
- Kao Tech
On a quest for revenge, this alien menace has returned from far away areas in space which have been perverted by the drug trafficking of humans (in secret, of course). His special ability is Invisibility, skill is Magnetic Field, and main weapon is Extraterrestrial Firearms.
- Shawn O’Panda
There’s no story presented as to why, but the Panda man is here to kick some ass. His ability is Pandy Vision, skills are both Flames of Pandhalla and Pandash Kick, and main weapon is Fist.
Sometimes it’s easier to kill some innocent people just to get them out of the way. Hide their bodies, or the other party-goers will hastily get to cop-calling, rat bastards. Some individuals have caveats. surprisingly, you cannot kill a rare few people such as a janitor who seems to wipe up blood as the elites continue to rave on. There’s a crafting system this time around which allows for items to be combined creating results such as molotov cocktails.
Each time you clear a level the game rates you on the Criminal, Anarchy, Stealth, and Mystic aspects of your actions. These different attributes of play-style can be accomplished various ways depending on your approach and how many level-specific events you are able to discover and trigger. The order in which players do things will also affect how the moment to moment action evolves.
A huge part of the fun in Party Hard 2 is how unpredictable it is. While on the one hand trying to resist the temptations of just going on a wild stab-fest, players are also challenged with reacting quickly to unexpected reactions. NPCs have their own routines and these aren’t exactly the same each time the level loads. Sometimes items can be shuffled around the level as well. Controlling the chaos is a zen-like feeling and the frustration of coming so close yet being so far from a perfect run is addicting.
That being said, the difficulty of the game is going to be where most people fall off the wagon. Depending on what type of player you are, this might not be the game for you. If you are looking for an action adventure type with little cerebral thought to it, stay away. But if you appreciate games in which the levels themselves are essentially puzzles – mixed with a dash of murderous mayhem, Party Hard 2 could be your type of game.
GRAPHICS / PERFORMANCE
The look and feel of Party Hard 2 is evolved over its predecessor but still keeps the same vibe alive. With much more visual graphics effects such as ambient lighting, dynamic shadows, and other post-processing tricks, Party Hard 2 presents a combination of 3D and 2D best practices for sadly mixed results. The original was much easier to play due to a more pixel perfect art style which may have looked like less production-value wise but was actually better in terms of how it affected the gameplay. The game will run well even if your hardware is weak or outdated, making this an excellent “play anywhere, anytime” indie game to pop on at the office, while waiting for a dentist appointment to start, or while driving down the highway if your passenger is kind enough to take the wheel for you.
SOUND / MUSIC
While the club type of music could be some folk’s idea of a good time, I found this segment in the game’s composition disappointing at times. The repetitive nature of the songs takes away from the fact that they really did well to market the game. I just don’t appreciate hearing the same tune that was in the trailer for the game during the first level over and over again while I try to master it for hours on end. Sound effects aren’t bad or good, they’re just there. Overall the strong points of the first game’s sound design are preserved without much noticeable improvement being added to it.
There are many hidden objectives in the game and a very difficult achievement involved with beating the game without killing anyone that certainly will take many hours and a lot of discipline to learn how you can create the perfect run – then execute it. Beyond that, the game’s various tricks and traps are hard to find and figure out. It is likely that each time you discover a new way to use items within a level you’ll end up messing something up and needing to restart. The game becomes almost rogue-like in the way that players must repeat themselves, learn, re-arrange the plan in their mind, and attempt to win again. Oddly enough, local co-op is also possible.
Twitch Integration is a new addition which seeks to provide even more gameplay after every nook and cranny has been discovered and mastered (which will take you a long time). Even if you’ve already gained every achievement and seen all of the hidden content, played out all of the hilarious ways to kill people that you didn’t think were possible, taking the game online to a stream unlocks even more possibilities. There are already many different ways to complete a level in Party Hard 2 but on Twitch, viewers can help set up custom challenges for you.
For its asking price, Party Hard 2 provides more than enough bang for the buck. The graphics portray each scene quite nicely, though it can sometimes be a challenge to see precisely what’s going on with the inconsistencies between 3D rendered art mixed with 2D pixel art. The music will get you annoyed fast, because the levels repeat the same tune endlessly and they take a while to master. You’ll probably want to shut it off entirely. Yeah, it’s that bad. But gameplay is where the game shines. Puzzling players to shut down parties with varying objectives, or even try killing (or not killing) the entire party full of innocent people while completing each mission is an exciting prospect.
With a new cast of extra characters, a voice added to the main character, and an explanation behind the lore and story of the franchise as well as a conclusive climax at the end, there’s a lot of advancement from the first game to the original. Make no mistake, Party Hard is very much still a game about killing people and getting away with it, while dancing. Its sequel gains a 7 out of 10 from RealGamerNewZ, making it one of RGN’s Bronze Games of 2018.