Party Hard Review – Buzzkill

Pinokl Games
Pinokl Games /

Party Hard shows potential, but it ends up as more of a hard sell than a good time.

Developers: Pinokl Games

Publisher: tinyBuild

Platform: PlayStation 4 (Version reviewed), Xbox One, PC

Release Date: April 26th 2016

Despite the promise of its title, Party Hard is far from as good a time as the flashy pixel art and thumping soundtrack initially suggests. You won’t so much be partying hard as you will be gradually and laboriously murdering innocent victims one by one while trying to avoid detection. Think Hotline Miami but in slow motion, and not in a good way.

You play as a light sleeper with a short fuse, who decides to go on a killing streak from party to party merely for the sake of getting “some peace and quiet”. As motives go, this is troublingly shallow, though the dark comic vibe and pixelated art style allows the game to just about carry its slasher conceit with more tastefulness than titles such as, say, Hatred.

Party Hard
Pinokl Games /

In fact, the quirky pixel art is by far Party Hard’s greatest asset, with all 12 of the locations in the game – each one representing a full level – featuring impressively detailed layouts and unique characteristics.  Most of the gore and violence also passes off successfully as an indulgence in black humor, such as when a police car arrives on the scene only to run over several innocent party-goers in the process.

The core staple of the gameplay involves attempting to stab people or use fatal traps on them without garnering the attention of anyone nearby, who will otherwise duly respond by calling the cops or even try to take you down themselves. Secret passageways and private rooms are your best bet to staying off the radar whilst certain randomized events, such as a fight breaking out, can be used to your advantage.

Party Hard
Pinokl Games /

During later stages, there are even unique items you can use, like a smoke grenade, or new, stronger characters to play as, such as a katana-toting ninja. Unfortunately, Party Hard asks a lot from you (murdering everyone at the party without being arrested or killed first) but doesn’t you give enough resources to effectively deliver on the task.

The resulting experience is a repetitive gameplay loop that consists of waiting for victims to enter a room alone before mindlessly and arbitrarily stabbing them with the click of a button. This chore becomes either boring or frustrating – if not a mixture of the two – very quickly.

Party Hard is also plagued by a streak of procedural unpredictability that, in addition to the complete absence of any tutorials other than the random scraps of paper you find on the ground, further raises the odds that are unfairly stacked against you.

Party Hard
Pinokl Games /

For example, you only have one life to kill everyone, otherwise the game resets, but sometimes a random NPC will attack your character for no apparent reason and with no previous indication that they would do such a thing. This happened to me during a 30 minute slog into a level that I was just about to complete, and so I can personally attest to the sense of immense frustration that Party Hard needlessly elicits from the unsuspecting player.

4.5. <em>Party Hard </em>has some good ideas wrapped in a stylish aesthetic, but any of its initial charm is quickly lost in the imbalanced serving of fair challenge and the repetitive, over-simplistic gameplay. For once, we recommend that it’s best to stay at home and sit this party out.. Pinokl Games. . Party Hard

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments.