Originally released in 2015 as a PC game, Party Hard is the latest Switch release from indie developer Pinokl Games. Taking on the role of a serial killer, players must stealthily put an end to various parties across the United States with only one objective in mind: kill them all.
Party Hard takes place in the year 2000 when a “guy who just wanted some sleep” is fed up by his neighbours constant partying so decides to put an end to it by killing everyone there. After grabbing the knife and mask that happens to be sitting by his bed, he then goes on a murderous rampage putting and to every party he comes across.
The object of the game is to not get caught and doing so will result in the level restarting. There are 19 different levels to play through, each with random environmental variations so there is a lot of trial and error involved. Being stealthy in your killing approach is the only way to avoid detection, and even then, it is still very difficult to complete a level without the police being called. If a party goer finds a body, they will call the police who will come and remove it. While the police will not automatically pursue you as a suspect, you will be tagged as the killer if someone witnesses the murder, or if you spend too much time near the bodies. Most levels have somewhere to hide your victims, such as in trash cans, ice machines, drains, etc., but in the few levels that don’t, your patience really comes into practice.
The police aren’t the only ones who can stop your killing rampage. The more people you kill the more paranoid the current survivors get and rather than leave the party, they will attack you whether they actually saw you commit the crime. Security guards also roam the premises of certain parties. These guards don’t just render some areas off limits, they will also attack you on sight so it’s best to stay clear of them and take them out by surprise.
Your primary weapon is a knife but that is not the only thing you can use to kill. The best way to kill a large group of people at once or to avoid suspicion is to set a trap. The traps you can use depend on what level you are playing and on which variation. Poisoning drinks/food, making speakers explode, and destroying dance floors are a few of traps that can kill large groups which also result in a mass panic. You can also set other traps such as bear claws, short-circuiting electrical equipment, and exploding porta potties which can pick off a few people who run by them during the mass panic that you have already caused.
In addition to traps, the environment can be used to your advantage. You will find that many party goers will pass out at some point giving you the opportunity to carry them to a secluded corner or even place them on the road and wait for a vehicle to speed by. Looking around the level you might also find things like unsteady trees just waiting to fall or hungry wild animals lurking nearby.
Various objects such as poison, gas bombs, and stun grenades can be found in brief cases throughout the level giving you even more killing options, you may also find spare clothes which become a life saver in the event that the police come after you. These objects give a really fun and interesting twist on the game as do the various forms of ‘help’ you can call in. Using a phone will call a random person to the house whose actions will be in your favour. A bodyguard can help fight off paranoid party goers, exterminators will poison a room (and all those in it), and your zombie friends will infect the entire party. If you’re more of a social killing type and like to cause chaos, you don’t have to play alone and can call in a friend and play local co-op.
You will complete each level by killing everyone and will have to restart if you get killed yourself or get arrested. Your performance on each level is scored by points, which you gain from the number of kills you make, combos, traps used, police escapes, and how long it takes you.
Party Hard is an incredibly fun game that gives you a lot of entertainment in a small package. Each level takes no longer that 15 minutes to complete, some taking as little as three, so you can easily get through the whole game in a few hours. Each level having different variations makes replaying after failure less frustrating but you will quickly find that some variations make the level harder than others, so may find yourself purposely failing the level in order to get a better variation. The game is very repetitive, but the constant change in levels, unpredictable nature of gameplay, upbeat soundtrack, and the game’s dramatic narrative (which is told in between levels) keeps you interested and coming back for more.