You are tired and you need to catch some Zs.
Late at night, your neighbors start raving, disturbing your slumber.
You wake up, determined to make them wish they didn’t…
Developer Pinokl Games has previously created family friendly, social games such as Real Steel and Dino Battle. While publisher tinyBuild has previously worked on games such as the flamboyant multiplayer platformer SpeedRunners, which came out back in August, 2013 on Steam Early Access. Now, Pinokl Games and tinyBuild have partnered up to bring us their latest indie creation, Party Hard, a tactical strategy game that puts you in the murderous shoes of a masked serial killer.
Party Hard attempts a comedic and stealthy approach to slashing sprees
In Party Hard, a detective named John West tells the story of a manhunt for a mass murderer on the loose. You play as said mass murderer, or – in defense (not) of your inevitable unlawful, coldblooded acts – simply a guy trying to get some sleep. You are so exasperated to the point that you believe slaying all partygoers at a myriad of shindigs is the solution to your problem. At some point, you get to play as the demented murderer’s henchgirl, Katie, who (minor spoiler alert) happens to be the detective’s daughter. You’ll also be able to unlock two other playable characters as you progress through the game – a ninja and a cop. Throughout the game, you gatecrash all kinds of parties: BBQ parties, roof parties, casino parties, boat parties, Halloween costume parties (ah, of course, the perfect slash-crime scene!) and more. You even get to combo-kill a bunch of people on a party bus. Pretty groovy, huh?
Party Hard includes a wild variety of parties – ranging from campus parties to beach parties
The most distinct and noticeable elements as you start the game are the music and the art style. As the game launches, the main menu music starts, mirroring the Party Hard vibe the second it hits your eardrums. A few seconds in, all that came to mind was: Daft Punk could be rather impressed by this. The 16-bit music that you listen to throughout the game, even though a bit repetitive, contains just the right amount of groove, retro funk and dance beats that go quite well with each party you’re raiding, as well as other in-game elements.
Scienart Media have worked on the sound design for the game, adding layers of ambient sound effects. They’ve included panicked shrieks (when dead bodies are detected by party attendees), victims’ last screams, your blade’s slash noises, party ambiance and police/ambulance siren sounds. The sound designers have even added an easter egg, where an audio snippet from the renowned shower scene in the 1960 classic Psycho is cued as you prepare to stab a buzzed reveler by the bathroom tub.
The music, sound effects and art style in Party Hard go hand in hand, enhancing your killer experience
Regarding the graphics in Party Hard, they’re quite straightforward and simple. The artists kept it old school, sticking to 8-bit pixels all over: the purple-clothed masked murderer, the black-dressed henchgirl, the NPCs, the festive and decorated environments, script fonts, pause/main menu designs, and the cutscenes. However, there seems to be a couple of issues with some graphic elements in the game. There’s a synchronization issue regarding the voice-over parallel to the subtitles in the game’s cutscenes. What’s written isn’t 100% identical to what’s being heard in some of the cutscenes. This could sound too detail-oriented, but it could use a little bit of tweaking. More important is the issue of NPC paralysis: there are about a dozen partygoers (a.k.a. your victims) that were frozen in place, not moving an inch throughout several parties. They are mostly found in bizarre body positions (mid-walk freeze, wonky legs while standing up, squatting mid-air…etc.), which is quite a bummer.
In Party hard, gameplay is simple, but timing and strategy are crucial for not getting busted
So here’s how the gameplan in Party Hard goes: you crash a party, kill a specified number of attendees (basically all of those in the party – DJ included), and become the (only) life and soul of the party in the end. The sequence sounds easy, but it requires well-timed tactics and extra in-game aid to hit the body count per party neatly and, as a result, progress to the next bashes. Party Hard does ensure a laid-back gaming experience, but also maintains a challenging scheme by adding obstacles and enemies that you have to evade.
You should always make sure to hide the body after you stab your victim, otherwise someone will see it and call 911. In this case, you have to either leave the room with the unconcealed body and hide in plain sight, or (if you’ve been sighted by a witness or the police) you’ll have to make a run for it until the cop grows tired and leaves. Special forces will show up if you get the cop killed, and it’s not a walk in the park to evade them. In each party, you will find helpful items in suitcases placed in certain positions in the map. You can also purchase other items from a mysterious-looking, coated dealer that wanders around at parties sometimes. Gear items include spare clothes (you could use them if you’ve been spotted), stun bombs, explosive bombs, smoke bombs – some of these bombs could hurt you, so make sure you’re somewhat distant when they explode.
As you kill your partying foes, not only will you use your favorite weapon (a sharp knife) and collectible items, but you will use traps in your surrounding environment to maim, murder or lure your victims. By the press of a button, you can dance to repel some people from the dance floor, leading them to other rooms in the area, thus increasing your chance to kill them unnoticed. You can break sound systems nearby dance floors and watch your victims burn in masses. You can poison the food and booze at the party to kill effortlessly and silently. If you have a vehicle parked at the party, you can run the engine and watch it run over multiple bodies. You can make phone calls that bring you randomized additions – whether more costumed party animals to kill, a pizza delivery guy that lures people from point A to point B, or “exterminators” that can annihilate several people for you.
Want to Party Hard-er? You should enable Twitch integration in-game
An extra innovation that Party Hard devs added to the game is the Twitch configuration. If you happen to have a Twitch account, you can enable its integration with the game. That way, as you stream your playthrough, those who are watching live can trigger certain events to take place in your game as you play. Events include Sharknadoes (tornadoes that randomly distribute sharks all over the party – killing some people in the process), zombies (green ones, hijacking the party and turning everyone into a zombie – they could bite you, too!) and chainsaw butchers (who basically run around crazy-killing people with a chainsaw until forces arrive). These events also take place in-game without the Twitch configuration, but randomly rather than at your audience’s will.
Party Hard in three words: retro, fun, unpolished. With its pixel graphics and hip music it guarantees to catch your eye and ear. But with its immobility glitches and clumsy, uncoordinated details, it rather disappoints. What will keep you holding on to it is mainly the challenging gameplay – your urge to perfect clean kills, hide bodies and escape hazards, as well as your urge to plan on using your environment and gear strategically for bulk and combo kills. You’ll find Party Hard available for purchase on Steam for $12 and change.
Party Hard allows for a laid-back gaming experience, but also maintains a challenging scheme by adding obstacles for you to take on...
Gameplay - 9/10
Plot - 7.5/10
Design - 6.5/10
Party Hard in three words: retro, fun, unpolished.
+ Colorful, pixel graphics
+ Groovy, retro music and accurate sound effects
+ Challenging and enjoyable gameplay
+ Element of utilizing environment for kills
- Glitches in character graphics and movement
- Slightly inelegant synchronization in cutscenes
If you're into further unpredictable challenges, feel free to integrate your game with Twitch and have a blast.