Party Hard Review
“I used to try very hard to make friends with everyone on the planet.” crooned Jarvis Cocker in Pulp track Party Hard.
Back in videogames land in this Party Hard, developed by Pinoki Games, the time for making friends is over. Sick of repeated loud parties, our masked villain grabs his trusty knife and gatecrashes the party intending to get their stab on.
Despite the flashing neon, thumping 80's soundtrack, top down pixel art and ultraviolence, this isn’t Hotline Miami
. Combat is clumsy by design, and taking out two people in a room at once is the height of your abilities.
This is worth mentioning, because in terms of flavour you really are an irredeemable masked psychopath, gatecrashing parties to exterminate everyone inside without remorse. You’re Jason Vorhees from the weedy universe, replacing that iconic machete with a sharp knife in a dark corner, his unstoppable tenacity with a.. well, stoppable tenacity. It turns out that mass murder can be difficult and so the pace of Party Hard is closer to a puzzle game than the adrenaline fuelled slaughter the premise might suggest.
In the early levels this is fairly simple. Use the combination of traps at your disposal to thin the herd out and then do your best not to be seen. If you’re seen the police will chase you, if you manage to escape them for long enough - they run faster than you but they can’t use the secret passageways you have access to - then they’ll leave you alone. I quickly learnt the detection was somewhat dodgy, and occasionally the police will arrest you despite having no evidence you’ve killed anyone.
Obviously, I was the killer all along, I know that - but it’s the principle
of the thing, you know?
In later levels it became a real problem. Bouncers would clip through doors to beat me to a pulp, and police officers who had previously let me off would pounce upon me from 2 feet away giving me little time to react. It didn’t feel very fair, especially as I was whittling down the final few enemies.
I kept playing because the game charmed me from the moment I started playing. There’s a series of random events and random placements that come up level by level: There might be a sleeping bear in a barn, or a crowd of people outside the nightclub just waiting for you to drive a car over them. The item placements too, are semi-random, sometimes you might get a smoke grenade or bomb, other times just a change of clothes. It’s designed for replayability and the urge for “just one more try” is strong. I’m playing the game again now while I’m reviewing, even though I’ve completed it. A steam popup politely informs me I’ve murdered 1000 people so far across my adventures, seconds later another popup tells me 50 of those met their demise in equine incidents.
I think the horse is my favourite of the games traps: spooking the horse with the space bar will cause the back legs to kick up, killing anyone behind the horse. I like to use it to deter chasing police, hiding behind my protective pony and picking them off as they reach the back legs. I’ve also had some success with exploding pumpkins, electric wires and the occasional beartrap.