We’ve all been there. An obnoxious neighbor is having a huge, thumping party late into the night. It’s keeping you up and you’re enraged, possibly calling the cops on them in the slight hope it makes them stop and allows you to get some sleep. In Party Hard you play as a guy who has had too much of a loud party going on next door and heads into it to do the only sane thing- kill everyone in attendance.
Everyone means everyone. You will fail a level if you get beaten up, killed, or arrested before taking out every single person, usually leaving the DJ for the last exquisite kill (He is the main perpetrator, after all). Each subsequent level is a new party, leading you from rooftops to cruise ships, because fortunately there is no shortage of obnoxious self-absorbed people in the world for your sociopath to handle.
Your main method of murder is a knife, which will kill people silently and effectively. Its only problem is that there can sometimes be between 40-60 people at a party and if anyone sees you killing someone they’ll run to the phone (thankfully this game exists pre-cellphones) to call the cops. Fortunately the revelers usually wander and many pass out by themselves on couches and in the bushes outside the location, allowing you to easily take them out, or carry them (no one bats an eye at someone carrying a drunk) to a more private location to be murdered. Killing them one by one is exhausting, however, and unless you hide each and every body you will have people stumbling over them left and right, calling the cops every time, who come by and pack the corpses in body bags, allowing the short-minded revelers to continue dancing the night away as if nothing was wrong.
The cops can be avoided if you’ve been fingered, but it’s very tricky, and it gets harder each subsequent call that is made to them. Each time they become more persistent in their chase and can eventually call in a SWAT team or some tricky Feds to pop up out of nowhere. Sometimes you can pin the blame on innocent guests, much to your abusement.
But since these are real ragers, the better way to proceed is to take advantage of each level’s unique traps and take out a few people at a time. Some places have ovens you can explode, trees you can topple, even some good ol’ fashioned bear traps you can set. You can “accidentally” knock someone right into a fire pit or off a roof. Perhaps some poison might find its way into the keg and people will walk around vomiting blood before succumbing. Ooops! Part of the fun of each new location is seeing what kind of traps are available, and the game is a bit procedurally generated as far as which objects are available each time you retry it, giving you a good amount of replay value.
But make no mistake, this is a stealth game, and a hard one at that. It’s very easy to make a mistake and have some snitch running off to the cops, and there’s usually a wonderful comedy of errors that begins when you try to silence that person… and then the one that stumbles over you killing that one, and so on and so forth.
If this sounds gruesome, well, it’s the graphics and style that makes it palatable. Black humor is the key here, and the sprites allow Party Hard to nail that look where it’s too lo-res to cause uproar, even though it’s ludicrously violent (It’s similar to Hotline Miami this way). You’ll throw people into fans and dump bloody corpses in the sewer and the art almost makes it feel quaint. It would likely be unplayable if it were more realistic due to how disturbing it would be, but here it’s cute. The soundtrack also helps, as it's full of great, dance-able tracks that make game much more light than it would be otherwise.
Party Hard also has some clever Twitch integration as well, which allows viewers of your stream to vote on what will happen next as you’re playing. Perhaps a bear might wander into the party, or a horde of zombies. It makes it that much more fun, allowing a streamer to effectively play against his audience.
Even with unlockable characters that have different features, all this senseless killing can get monotonous, and the difficulty may be off-putting to some, especially in the harder levels. But no one can deny how much ridiculous fun it is - it's almost a puzzle, trying to figure out the best method of taking everyone out without being seen. Once you’re done with the game though there isn’t a ton of replay value besides achievements. Perhaps they can add in some DLC?
“We have been getting tons of questions about DLC, and my position on it is -- screw paid DLC,” said Alex Nichiporchik, Party Hard producer, in a recent press release. “It is evil and I don't want our fans to feel like we're milking anyone.”
They're already added a bunch of new events (Sharknados, anyone?) as well as a new playable character, and have more content on the way. If they keep making them, we’ll keep killing them.
Party Hard is now available on Steam for PC, Linux and Mac OSX.