Party Hard (Xbox One)

Party Hard is another one of those pixelated indie games with a ridiculous premise, that is nevertheless challenging and actually rather fun to play, if you can get over how horrible it is. Like Not a Hero and Hotline Miami, it combines disturbing ultraviolence with a tongue-firmly-in-cheek sense of frivolity, continuing in the grandly dubious tradition of Grand Theft Auto in its top-down days. Developed by Ukrainian studio Pinokl Games and published by the American company tinyBuild Games, Party Hard is a “third-person urban combat simulator”, according to its creators, or “the tactical game of stopping parties”. What it really is a is a stealth strategy game that puts you in the shoes of a man (and his followers) who are out to shut down a series of loud parties – by any means necessary.


You – you work all night, and when you work you don’t feel alright

The framing device for the whole story is a conversation between two men – a cop who speaks with the stereotypical gruff voice borne of years of disillusion and disappointment on the force, and a man who speaks in a mocking, wickedly cheerful tone not unlike Heath Ledger’s Joker. It’s heavily implied, if not outright admitted, that the weird guy is the one behind a spate of brutal killings that have rocked the nation.

How did it all start? Well, the killer, a man by the name of Darius, was having trouble sleeping because his neighbors kept throwing obnoxiously loud parties. Finally, he couldn’t take it any more, and donning a white mask and taking up his knife, he went over and shut that shit down. It seems he became intoxicated with his new purpose, and decided to travel across the country calling bloody curtains on parties in all kinds of places, from casino rooftops to subway stations to frat houses. In the course of his twisted adventures, he attracts the attention and loyalty of fellow-travelers to his cause, not unlike Joe Carroll in the show The Following. Some of these copycats become playable characters, like the hockey-masked, chainsaw-wielding Butcher (inspired by a certain horror movie character) and the stealthy, deadly Ninja, among others.

The story is actually surprisingly well written for a game with this kind of gameplay and with such a small team. The dialogue between missions employs all the clichés you can imagine, yet in subtle ways it makes it clear to the player that the writers are in on the joke. The voice acting isn’t that bad, either, and does a good job of capturing both the policeman’s world-weariness and the “Party Hard Killer’s” twisted glee. I did find, however, that to be able to stomach a game like this, you have to be relatively detached from what’s actually happening, and the level of ridiculousness employed in the level design and gameplay helps to lighten things up a bit, and prevents Party Hard from entering the territory of execrable crap like last year’s Hatred and 1997’s Postal.


Cause we will never listen to your rules, we will never do as others do

Each level in Party Hard starts with the “hero” somewhere on the premises of a large, noisy party, with indoor and outdoor areas. The map is top-down 2D, though the illusion of depth makes it “feel” like you can move in three directions. There will also be dozens of party-goers, sometimes up to 60 or more, along with other characters like waiters and bouncers. The object of each mission is to kill everyone, either using your primary weapon (knife, sword, chainsaw, etc.), or by setting various “traps” in order to take out people without being noticed. When someone is killed, the body will alert others in the room, who will call the cops. If other partygoers or the police see you near the body, you could be flagged as the killer, indicated by a little handcuffs icon. If that happens, the cop will try to arrest you.

Cops are your greatest danger, as they can normally run faster than you (even if you sprint), and you can’t attack them directly. Your only hope is to either outrun them long enough for them to give up (“I’m too old for this shit!”), or to set a trap and lure them into place. Then again, this will alert the FBI, and later cops will be more persistent than the first one too. Bouncers are also a threat, and if they see you walking into a restricted area, they can also bust you. On the other hand, you can take out bouncers by sneaking up behind them.

Traps come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Some of them are simple, like pushing people off of a roof or into a fire when they’re standing next to it. Others are more elaborate, like poisoning the food or the punch bowl (and letting the waiters dole out the toxic brew), making a horse kick people (don’t even try to figure out why there are horses inside), electrifying the dance floor, or sending a runaway golf cart across the screen. My favorite was how you can break a motorcycle, causing the biker to blame and kill other people nearby, which also results in the biker’s arrest. And then there are also gumball machines, speakers, and other things that can be fashioned into proximity bombs, not to mention the items you can pick up, including smoke grenades, flash bombs, suitcase bombs, and extra clothing (to fool the cops). Be careful though – setting off a suitcase bomb can alert the SWAT team, who will come in and start busting heads all over the screen.


Do what we want and we get it from you

You can also “make a call”, which depending on the level, will invite some useful element into the party. Sometimes it’s another maniac, sometimes its bikini-clad girls who take guys outside to make out in isolated spots, sometimes it’s a scruffy Russian-speaking drill sergeant who will fight off the cop. More ridiculous guests include a flying saucer full of aliens who abduct sleeping guests, or zombies who come and spread their contagion among all the partygoers (zombies can hurt you, but on the other hand, they don’t alert anyone to dead bodies). And another trick you can do is carry passed out partiers into the street, where they will get run over by the cops and other vehicles that arrive.

Levels can have slightly different configurations, too. So if you die and restart a level, don’t be surprised if the horse isn’t there, or if the punch bowl is in another position, or you can pick up smoke grenades now instead of a change of clothes. The levels are also full of what appears to be shout-outs and references to movies and video games, such as girls who look like Leeloo from The Fifth Element, and a certain red-and-blue plumber who comes out to block hidden passages when the cops see you using them. There are 12 levels in the main storyline, with 7 additional “LDS Levels” that are a lot stranger than the regular ones – party on an alien spaceship, anyone? – but don’t really have a story.

The controls are on the whole pretty good, and the gameplay is really easy to grasp, though the game is not without its glitches. For instance, if the cop somehow dies while arresting you, the whole danger system is ruined for the rest of the level, and you can kill with impunity. Also, there’s one level where the DJ is invisible, so I had to spend a long time frantically searching for that one last target. In one level, 21 members of the SWAT team are stuck in the lower left corner, and won’t fight back as you slay them all. None of this really gets in the way of the game’s playability, however.


Do what we like and we like what we do

The graphics in Party Hard are somewhat primitive, and the artists are working with a very limited number of pixels when it comes to depicting characters. They do a great job of it, though. And aside from the fact that pixelated games are trendy right now, I think this art style is necessary for a game like Party Hard to work. Otherwise, it would be too macabre and dark, despite any efforts at humor. Unlike other violent games where you’re mostly killing real enemies, this game has you killing lots of innocents, even people just doing their jobs. If the graphics weren’t so ridiculously primitive, I’d have been a lot more conflicted about enjoying this game than I already was.

The level design is always interesting, and somehow they manage to cram lots of details into each party, with various easter eggs to uncover. Animations are again primitive, which makes them look goofy (the main character’s dance is ridiculous), but again this is meant to play into the whole “keeping it stylized so it’s not as disturbing: shtick.

The game music is pretty cool – repetitive electronic dance beats, but there are a few different tracks of it, and it certainly fits the theme. In terms of sound effects, they’re also pretty primitive, to go with the graphics style and overall goofy presentation. The constant, unvarying shrieks of party-goers can get annoying, though, and at the very least should convince you to hide the bodies better.



Party Hard is a pretty decent romp, and if you can stomach the premise or the violence, it’s a nice, casual challenge for about 13 bucks that should keep you occupied for a few days. And its strategy-puzzle nature, along with the fact that you can go back to any level you’ve already beaten, makes it the kind of game you can return to every now and then for a quick fix. (Review by Chase Faucheux)

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2016-09-23 18:28:29... - Bazzoka


2016-09-18 15:58:40... - Pawel

Send me it ill do a detailed review

2016-05-12 21:08:16... -


2016-05-10 19:33:49... - gonxasmarques98


2016-05-10 01:15:23... - Angelio


2016-05-09 01:57:29... - whacamole

nothing a cakita

2016-05-07 17:30:26... - tdrxg


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