When neighbors are partying too loud into the late hours of the night, the rational reaction of most people is to ask them to keep it down or in more extreme cases, call in a noise complaint to the police. The protagonist of Pinokl Games’ and publisher tinyBuild Games‘ Party Hard, Darius, is done playing nice guy, however, and when his neighbors’ partying wakes him up at 3AM, he decides to embark on a globe-trotting rampage.
The premise of Party Hard is ridiculous, as is the rest of the game. Each level consists of a single screen, wherein the goal is to kill everyone at whatever unlucky party Darius has decided to crash. The screen is filled with traps that can be used to off victims in creative ways, as well as hiding spots to stash the bodies.
The traps include things like exploding ovens, or cars that can be sent speeding off in whatever direction they’re pointing, flattening anyone in their path. However, the most common method players will use to kill the various party guests will be by stabbing them to death. Many of the traps are limited to one use, so every level devolves into just that: waiting for someone to be alone, stabbing them, stashing the body, rinse, and repeat.
Due to the repetitive nature of the gameplay, every level in Party Hard feels the same, despite new gimmicks attached to each stage. It doesn’t help matters that players are typically asked to kill no less than a few dozen people before they are allowed to move on to the next level, meaning that stages go on a bit too long and become tedious.
What’s also tedious is standing around, waiting for victims to move into areas where it’s safe to kill them – which makes up the majority of Party Hard‘s gameplay. Anyone that’s impatient and goes on a wild killing spree will wind up arrested or dead, which is all the more frustrating when close to completing a level.
To the credit of developer Pinokl Games, there are some minor differences when replaying levels to help keep things at least a little fresh. Sometimes the number of required victims is higher or lower, and sometimes there are different traps. The traps even spawn in different locations on occasion, but even then, none of this really changes the strategy for beating the level. It’s always going to boil down to burning through the traps, finding a room to wait for people to walk into, and stabbing them.
Since the only goal in the entire game is to kill people, some may find Party Hard a bit on the offensive side. The game is definitely vulgar in both its violence and its liberal use of swear words, but the retro, Hotline Miami-inspired aesthetic keeps it from venturing into disturbing territory. Party Hard also has a pretty solid sense of humor, which helps separate it from similar “murder simulators,” like the critically panned Hatred that released last year.
Party Hard‘s sense of humor can be found in the fact that there’s actually a button to make Darius dance. While the subject matter of a serial killer is serious, the cheesy writing and voice acting during cut-scenes make it hard not to laugh at the game’s absurdity. From start to finish, Party Hard keeps its tongue firmly planted in its cheek, and that makes its dark premise much easier to swallow.
While it can be funny at times, Party Hard has issues delivering in other areas. The shallow gameplay has already been touched upon, but the game also falters because of its bugs. Some levels will allow players to make phone calls with invisible telephones, and in others, players can expect to bump into invisible objects that impede progress. It’s a shame that these issues weren’t ironed out before Party Hard‘s Xbox One and PS4 debut, especially considering the PC version has been available since last August.
Due to these issues, it’s clear that Party Hard is not a well put-together game, and doesn’t offer a lot of value. There are some things to like about it, but overall, the game feels like a half-baked experience that doesn’t evolve beyond its basic premise.
Party Hard is currently available for iOS and Android mobile devices, as well as PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided an Xbox One code for this review.