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Party Hard Indie Video Game Review

We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Pinokl Games and  tinyBuild for the review copy of Party Hard used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.

Are you sick of your noisy neighbors and their obnoxious parties? If you are, I seriously hope you don’t follow the precedent set by the main character in Party Hard. In Party Hard you play as a character that is sick of his neighbors keeping him up at night with their loud parties. Your character snaps and decides to do something about it. Instead of taking a reasonable approach to fixing the problem (like calling the police), your character decides to just murder everyone at the party. Killing the neighbors is not enough though as your character decides to go on a cross country murder spree killing as many party goers as he can.

Party Hard is a recent 2015 indie video game made by Pinokl Games and published by tinyBuild. While not for everyone, Party Hard is one party that you don’t want to miss.

This Game Is Not For Everyone…

For the most part video games have shied away from having you play as a serial killer. I think there may have been a couple games that have but there haven’t been many. I am guessing that there haven’t been many serial killer games since the idea behind the whole game would upset some people. You could debate that your character in games like GTA are serial killers since they do end up killing a lot of people. The sole purpose of these type of games is not to just go around killing people though.

Well that is not the case in Party Hard. Your character has no redeeming qualities and has no moral qualms about killing as many people as possible. By the end of the game you will have killed hundreds of little pixelated people and you will have killed some of them in really disturbing ways. I wanted to start the review by addressing this issue because it is a big issue with the game. If the idea behind the game (relentlessly murdering pixelated characters) disturbs you, I don’t think Party Hard is the game for you. While the game takes a lighthearted take on the slasher/cheesy cop drama (calling your character the “hero”), I can see why people could be offended by a game where you play as a serial killer.

Even though it should be pretty evident, children should not play Party Hard. The game did receive a M rating. While the graphics are really pixelated, the game deserves the rating that it got. The game presents some disturbing ways that you can end up killing some of the party goers. Not being much of a fan of gore myself, if the game was done in modern 3D graphics and not 8-bit graphics I would probably have been disgusted by some of the killings that occur in the game.

But It Is Surprisingly Fun

While the game is definitely not for everyone, I actually had a surprising amount of fun with the game. It is kind of hard to explain the gameplay in Party Hard since it is a mixture of several different video game genres. The game has elements of strategy, puzzle, and even stealth games. The object of each level is to try and kill all of the guests at a party. While you could just go crazy and start stabbing everyone, you will be arrested really quickly and lose the level. I seriously doubt you could even beat a level without using a much more stealthy approach.

So here is where the stealth elements come into the game. Despite being all over the news, none of the party guests will recognize you as a serial killer as long as you don’t do anything suspicious in front of them. For example stabbing someone right in front of another person is kind of a dead giveaway. Doing this will get you caught unless you can kill all of the witnesses before they call the police. Instead you need to blend into the party guests looking for opportunities to kill someone when no one is watching. After killing a person you can either hide the body or just leave the scene and let the body be found by one of the other people who will call the cops. As long as you are not near the body when it is discovered, no one will suspect you as the killer. They may even help you out by fingering one of the other guests as the killer who will be arrested. My strategy in most levels was to move back and forth across the party locations picking off a couple people that were by themselves and then moving to the other side in order to avoid being seen with a body.

Now we move onto the strategy and puzzle elements of the game. While not like your typical strategy or puzzle game, there are clear influences of both genres in the game. In order to successfully complete the level, you need to analyze the location and figure out how you can manipulate the guests to get them isolated so you can kill them without being seen. Sometimes this is easier said than done. You need to be constantly studying the party in order to find the opportunities where you can strike.

The puzzle elements come into play due to the traps that can be set off in order to kill some of the guests. Each level has a couple traps that can be used at most a couple times before they are no longer usable. Typically I tried to use the traps early in the levels in order to clear out as many people as possible. After I used all the traps I tried to start picking off the rest of the guests one by one. Since the traps are so valuable you need to try and maximize them. In some levels you can use one trap to send guests towards another deadlier trap. In one level I was actually able to get at least half of the guests on the dance floor and then proceeded to kill all of them at once by setting off one of the traps.

While I had a lot more fun with the game than I was expecting, I did start to tire of the game as I was finishing up the last couple of levels. I had fun with all of the levels but if the game would have been much longer I think I would have started to get bored with the game. The reason that the game was starting to get a little stale was that other than introducing new traps the game doesn’t really add any new mechanics after the first couple of levels. While the gameplay is fun and interesting, I wish there was a little more variety.

A Killer’s World

While I have already talked about how the idea behind the game may disturb some people, the theme in the game is otherwise well done. If you at all like 8-bit graphics you will love the graphics in Party Hard. The graphics are just so simple but detailed at the same time. The developers show off their love for video games and the other inspirations that influenced the game. The game features several random encounters like a zombie uprising, alien invasion, a robbery, a Sharnknado, and even a guest appearance by a famous chainsaw wielding friend. Also pay attention to the guests at the parties or you might miss characters like “Mario” who end up attending some of the parties. In one game almost the entire party got turned into zombies. For some reason one of the party guests still called the cops on me despite the fact that I was saving them from the zombie horde.

Other than the graphics the game does a good job setting the mood with the music. While some of the songs can get a little repetitive, if you like techno/dance party music you will probably love the audio in the game. The voice acting in the game is “bad” as if it was done bad on purpose to sound like it came from a cheesy movie.

While the developers could have just decided to not include a story for the game, the developers seem to have put some work into it. While the story is predictable (I pretty much figured it out after a level or two), I think it is not bad especially if you like cheesy cop dramas. The story is mostly told through still images but I like that all of the story is actually voice acted instead of using speech bubbles.

Bang For Your Buck

Party Hard includes twelve different levels. At least during your first attempt at a level you should expect to spend around 10-20 minutes to complete it since you need to take your time or you will likely get caught by the cops. Even if you are really careful there is a good chance that you will get caught at least once in every level.

Since I am usually a really cautious player in these types of game, I took my time in all of the levels. According to Steam it took me around six hours to complete all of the levels. If you are willing to take a few more risks than I did, I think you could possibly complete the game in five hours.

Replay value in the game will depend on what type of gamer you are. After you have played all twelve levels all you can do is repeat the levels in order to improve your score. People who like the challenge of improving their scores should get more time out of the game than I did. The game also includes a couple unlockable characters that have at least one unique ability which could change up the gameplay quite a bit.

At the time of this post Party Hard currently retails for $12.89. If the game sound interesting to you I think you will get your money’s worth out of the game. If you are a little more hesitant about the game but are not put off by the game’s concept, I would recommend picking up the game during a sale.

Other Tidbits

As far as difficulty is concerned I would classify Party Hard as a moderately difficult game. The early levels are kind of easy. The game has a good difficulty curve though and by the last levels the game is challenging but not frustrating.

In general the cops in the games are idiots/lazy. You can be spotted killing a person and you can pretty easily avoid being arrested. While the cops seem to always take the most direct path to arrest you, the levels are set up in a way that you can use this to your advantage. For example you can wait in the house until the police arrive in order to get them into the house. Then you can exit through a back door which puts a big distance between you and the police since they will have to run through the entire house. The police officer will only chase you for a short time until they give up the chase and just leave the scene. This doesn’t even factor in how easy it is to frame your murders on other guests. While this makes absolutely no sense in the real world, the game had to do this or the game would be way too difficult since you could make zero mistakes in any of the levels.

Although they are necessary to make the game harder, the security guards got kind of annoying. The security guards add quite a bit of strategy to the game. If they see you approaching them, they will chase after you for a while and will try to beat you into submission. In order to take care of the guards you will have to plan ahead on how you plan on killing them since you need to approach them from behind. This also applies to suspicious guests and the FBI/Secret Service that show up in the last levels. While they can be frustrating these added obstacles are necessary or the game would have become too simple in the later levels.

While the basic levels are always the same, the game does throw in some random elements every time you play the game. There are the random encounters that I have already mentioned.  The game also randomizes the traps and items you receive in the level. While this provides more replayability, I didn’t always like the randomization since some times the randomization took away a key trap I was going to use.

Final Thoughts

Based on the theme of the game, Party Hard will not be for everyone. While the game takes the topic in a lighthearted fashion, I can understand that some people may be disturbed by the concept behind Party Hard. These players will not like Party Hard.

If you are not disturbed by the concept of the game, I think you could really enjoy Party Hard. It is an interesting mix of different gameplay mechanics that makes a surprisingly good gameplay experience. You need to think out your moves and be stealthy in order to avoid getting caught by the police. While the game did start to drag a little towards the end I had a lot of fun with the game. If the gameplay mechanics of Party Hard interest you, I think you will enjoy the game.

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