We’ve all been there, laying awake at 3AM, unable to sleep because of inconsiderate noisy neighbours. Why can’t they have parties in the day? Why can’t they just make a microwave meal and hit the hay like normal people? Your mind races with ways to make them quiet down: you could call the police, or their parents! Or… kill them?
Before you know it, you’re donning a white hockey mask, jamming a hunting knife in your pocket and heading next door to teach those kids a lesson.
This is the premise of Party Hard. Released on consoles in April 2016, I’m a little late to the party, but with what the drunk socialites in the game have experienced that may not be a bad thing.
You play “Guy who wants some sleep” who we later learn is named Darius, a masked psychopath intent on breaking up the biggest parties across the US with his blade. You slay rowdy teens in Vegas, break up college parties and massacre entire ships.
Anyone with a drop of alcohol in their system, any place with obnoxious electronic music falls to your vengeance. All you need to do to clear each bloody stage is avoid police capture, and murder each and every unsuspecting party goer in sight.
The game is dark, it’s premise and the constant screams emitting from your television are steadfast reminders of this. However, Party Hard does not take itself seriously. It’s surprisingly humorous, and keeps the replay-ability high with varying ways of massacring happy drunkards.
You can trust in your blade and stab your way through the dance floor, you can blow up the speakers and flatten those stood too close, you can poison the punch, run a car into a crowd.
Each level gives slightly different variations on what Party Hard calls ‘traps’. A party near a sawmill has an easily scared Horse who will kick passersby if provoked, ending their fun – and lives – in an instant. Rooftop parties allow for swift take outs by simply throwing victims off the building. Of course, as the levels progress, these traps crop up again and do begin to repeat, but each of the 12 levels adds a new environment with different places to hide and new ways to avoid police custody.
After each level we see a small snippet of dialogue detailing Detective John West’s attempts to catch Darius during the “Party Hard killings of 2000.” He appears to be talking to an unnamed stranger, baffled as to how Darius has avoided capture for so long, especially with the level of infamy surrounding him and the volume of officers assigned to the case. With each new dialogue sequence we learn more about the killings and the man committing them, with Detective West growing increasingly desperate and volatile towards Darius and his actions.
Throughout the levels you can also unlock different killers through either progression or as rewards for getting achievements. Besides “Guy who wants some sleep” you can unlock the ability to play as the “Ninja”, the “Policeman”, “Katie”, or the “Butcher”, with each character having their own spin on the games abilities and ways to kill. This, again, adds to the replay-ability – which the game needs as it takes a little over 3-5 hours to finish the main story.
Party Hard is out on PC, Playstation 4, and Xbox One, with each version receiving mixed reviews. The game’s developer, Pinkol Games of Russia, tried to up Party Hard’s success by making it integrate with Twitch, allowing viewers to trigger events like a zombie outbreak, or a shark-nado to roll through the level. These later became available as random occurrences in the games of non-streaming players, and are entertaining to watch in addition to ticking the kill counter up a few notches. Though these seem to be completely out of your control, and only appeared in my personal runs of the game only once or twice.
There are a lot of things Party Hard does well, but there are a few things it doesn’t. The premise and controls are easily grasped, and the story, too, is a simple one. Strategy and stealth take precedence, with your path of destruction needing planning and attention to detail – rushing in will get you busted. The music is bouncy and electric, with repetitive beats and too much synth indicative of real life parties that keep you up at night. It’s fun. It’s satisfying to clear the screen of dancing drunks and kissing couples. But it is needlessly difficult sometimes, with a few levels – Miami Party in particular – that are simply not very well designed with few hiding spots or places to dump bodies; leaving you extremely vulnerable to capture and in extreme need of a lucky break.
With that being said, if you have a few hours to kill and like to explore levels and take your time, Party Hard is the game for you. Though those who find frustration in the repetitive and slow nature of such games should steer clear. It’s a good time – if a decent nights sleep is something you’d fight for.