Party Hard 2’s hero stops a drug syndicate because he just wants some sleep, man.
Title: Party Hard 2
Developers: Pinkol Games, Kverta
Release Date: October 25, 2018
There’s a playable character in Party Hard 2 named the “Wannabe.” It’s the closest thing the game has to an easy mode; the Wannabe has more health and stamina than the default character. Party Hard 2 also openly shames the player if they choose the Wannabe, stating, “You won’t be able to tell your friends you really beat Party Hard 2” if players play with the Wannabe.
Pushing players to play the way the developers intended is not an altogether bad thing. There are a myriad of games where playing any other way takes away from the experience. Be it because the game is extremely difficult or there’s a certain mechanic the developers have included, there are instances where forcing the player to play a certain way is warranted.
Party Hard 2 is not one of those games. The game isn’t particularly difficult, and there are no novel mechanics to speak of. If anything, the gameplay is rather rote; kill as many people as you can without getting caught, get out, rinse, repeat. Various objectives put a spin on that and encourage thoughtful play, but at a base level, the game stays the same.
This is fine … to a certain point. Namely, the point where players need to go fast and loud to carry out an objective. The game punishes players for attempting to cleave their way through the throngs; each level features multiple heavier characters who can kill the player in one hit. If the player is seen, they have the chance to fight back, but animation problems hold back the player’s ability to do so.
NPCs’ hits don’t visually register until the player is already dead, leaving the player with no option but to predict when the NPC is going to swing even though the player can’t actually see it. If the player gets spotted and the cops get involved, there’s no way of escaping that, and it’s game over.
Players are also discouraged from turning each level into a set of a slasher film by the limited weapons at their disposal. The base character has just a knife at the beginning of each level, and there are other weapons, such as Molotov cocktails, gas cans and bear traps, sprinkled throughout. Most of the killing, however, is done through environmental means. Players are encouraged to burn, shock and poison their enemies to rack up the kill count.
Players don’t even have to be discreet when setting these hazards off; players can force a speaker to blow in full view of a room of NPCs and the NPCs will be none the wiser. This also goes for hiding bodies. There are rare instances where NPCs can put two and two together if the player stands next to a freshly dead body, but it’s largely “out of sight, out of mind” as far as NPCs are concerned.
Sure, the police NPCs will run around like chickens with their heads off trying to catalog all the bodies, but as long as the player isn’t caught in the act, they can kill to their heart’s content. It’s more arcadey than some other games, but it’s more fun and fits the aesthetic better that way.
Or players can wait until their target is literally asleep, pick up the body, move it to some dark corner of the map and slit the NPC’s throat. Whatever floats your boat. This is not to disparage the game entirely. The base gameplay is solid and works more often than not. It’s also really fun once it gets rolling, although some levels can take their time. Such moments include when players get a large multi-kill combination or simply get credit for the kills other NPCs make by getting into fights, which is satisfying and amusing.
This insistence on stealth and subterfuge can be to the game’s detriment. Party Hard 2 has a tendency to funnel players through a particular path to start levels, either by putting hazards in one direction or making one path just a little too tough at the outset of a level. Once players “pass” these opening parts the levels open up, but these openings can require things to go just right for the rest of the round to progress. When things don’t go right (and they don’t more often than they do), it leads to frustration for the player through no fault of their own.
The game’s iteration times are relatively short; levels rarely take more than 10 minutes to complete, even at a slower pace. Those levels that did near the ten-minute mark were often levels that required the murder of every NPC, of which there were few. Those levels do take some trial and error, but finally cracking the code of those levels is among the more satisfying moments in the game.
However, there were instances when the loading times were longer than some level attempts. This gets grating, especially in levels where the game throws the player right into the action. Even then, the game doesn’t run smoothly all the time.
Frame rate drops and stutters were common and there is a particularly annoying glitch that forces players to exit out of the game to leave the options menu, but this only happens when the options menu is accessed from the main screen. Once a level is entered, the options menu can be accessed with no issue. In addition, players can’t leave the game from a death screen. They have to restart the level and then pause the game to exit it completely.
The narrative of Party Hard 2 doesn’t matter much. There’s a framing device about the player character’s therapist going on a daytime talk show and recounting the player’s adventures, but it’s more a rationalization for stringing these levels together in the order they are than anything else. Not that it matters; if a player is coming to these games for their story, they’re coming to the wrong place.
Party Hard 2 is a solid, enjoyable experience. It doesn’t bring much new to the table, but it isn’t intended to. If players are looking for something to kill time with, Party Hard 2 more than fits the bill. If they’re looking for something substantial, though, they’re better off looking elsewhere.
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. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.