Party Hard – Review
Anybody who knows me knows I’m not one to shy away from a party. Whenever there’s music cranking and drinks flowing you can count on me to be in the center of it all, gabbing away with a drink in my hand and swaying out of time to the tunes. So when I heard about how the main character in Party Hard is the killjoy who puts a stop to these fun times, I was a bit skeptical. Will I enjoy this? I am literally controlling the man who stops all my fun, will this be any good? In retrospect, I’m glad I gave it a go because though frustrating, this game gave me a lot of laughs to begin with.
Party Hard begins at around 3am, just about the time your character reaches the very end of his patience with the raging party going on nearby. Grabbing his trust knife he gets out of bed and decides to put an end to this- and all parties- forever.
There’s very little tutorial in Party Hard- you’re thrown into a party and are expected to pick up what you have to do simply by reading some newspaper scraps strewn along the ground outside the venue. I missed this the first time and found myself having to check the control scheme a number of times to teach myself- however, in all honesty, there’s not much to know. You use your environment (and your stabby stab knife) to kill every guest at the party without being seen. The more creative the kills, the more points you get and the more points you have at the end of the level the better. Simple, right?
The first level certainly is. I managed to stab my way through that in a matter of minutes without much of a hassle, but from level two onwards you encounter a difficulty spike that’s hard to overcome. It doesn’t help that the level varies at random each time you fail. For instance, the first time you try to play you might have to kill 57 people and there’ll be a variety of environmental aids to help you out. Fail that and the next time you load up the level you might only have to kill 30 party goers- without half the environmental killing devices that were around before.
Party Hard isn’t a game where you can just run around stabbing people at leisure, so if that’s what you’re looking for here, you’re going to be disappointed. You have to use your environment to succeed, and use it well (and time things properly too). The minute anybody sees anything suspicious they call the cops, who wander the venue looking for things out of the ordinary. Stab the wrong person at the wrong time and not only will you get caught, but if a bouncer or biker is in the room you’ll also get beat to a pulp. However chop down a tree in front of a group of people and send it crashing through a window and nobody bats an eyelid. The gameplay mechanics are inconsistent at the best of times which causes frustration to build quickly and easily.
What makes it more difficult is that you spend a lot of time running around not really knowing what’s going on. Party goers spend a lot of time with varying symbols over their heads and none of this ever gets explained. They’ll also sometimes just scream and run around for seemingly no reason- there were loads of times I had done nothing but move from point A to B and the cops were called. Sure, they didn’t want anything to do with my character, but I’d love to have known what they did want, and if I could have used that to my advantage.
Party Hard has a lot of promising aspects, unfortunately, it just doesn’t deliver on a lot of them. Once you replay a level the seventh time to try and complete it, the game mechanics become tired and old and the level loses its humour and becomes more frustrating than fun. Though there is a range of unlockable characters to keep you coming back and trying to beat your score, once you lose your patience with the game that just isn’t enough to get you back into it.
For something that was made at a game jam event and then polished into a fully fledged product, it’s not too bad, but I feel the idea behind the game is better than the game itself. The first few moments of Party Hard are hilarious, and experimenting with a range of different kill tactics is incredibly fun, but the game loses its lustre quickly, and never quite gains it back. It’s disappointing because the title shows a lot of promise that it just never delivers upon.