A lot of games nowadays feature death. Look at the last ten releases and statistically you'll see a majority involving you killing something or other. In games like Party Hard (and it's DLC, High Crimes) it takes it a step further – instead of choosing whether or not you want to kill someone or are faced with a moral dilemma in doing so, you're literally a serial killer. So how does a serial killer game stack up? As always, let's see...
It's the year 2000. Cell phones aren't everywhere yet and technoish-pop is everywhere. After a police intro, you (a person pissed off at all the constant partying and noise) decide to do something and go on a killing spree across the US. Putting aside the whole 'killing spree' element, it's not that bad of a story. You're essentially replaying old crimes as a former police officer is questioned. Of course, story isn't that big here – it's all about tactics and murder and reminds me of these free-to-play Adult Swim flash games from years ago where the goal is to try and kill yourself quickly. But it works, and there is at least a motive, like all passable slasher movies have.
Controls are the basic keyboard controls. Arrows, ADWS, R, T, and others for moving and using things. It's simple, isn't that confusing (I did hit the wrong button a few times when I didn't glance at the keyboard, but that was more on me) and works well enough.
The mechanics work too. Stab somebody, but make sure you aren't seen. Cause an 'accident', but make sure to move somewhere else before it happens. Avoid the cops. Drag bodies. If you've seen a few slasher movies or cop shows, you'll know what to expect. Nothing wrong with them, and it does create some challenges.
The art is old school bit graphics for style reasons, and it works. Animations are the same everywhere, but it's a very colorful game too. Even cutscenes have that bit-ness to them that makes it stand out to it's 3D bretheren. It's nice art, but a few of the moving graphics fall flat during some animations.
Do you like circa 2000 dance club beats, but like they came out of a Game Boy? Regardless of how you answer, that's the soundtrack. It works surprisingly well. On one level it's for the party on screen. On another, it gives you a beat to kill too. You don't notice it looping and it's actually pretty good for what it is. The sound is the same – old school, minimalist sound. There is clear spoken cut-scenes, but after that it's all the same. It fits in with the old-school theme and all, so this works too.
There were a few bugs here and there. One glitch had a certain person I killed never be noticed by anyone else. Most people you murder and then are discovered are going to have the cops called quickly. But him? Nope, none. A feature is also being able to drag away passed out people or just leave them where they are. When I used some of the environmental 'accidents', many times they weren't killed. Like when I set fire to a room with a passed out person inside – two standing people died, but he didn't. It happened enough to be noticed.
Party Hard is a pretty good game based on everything above, and would normally get a pretty good score. But then you have to step back and look at what you're doing – murdering. It's different from most other games where it's a need or a player choice – some of the best games make you question this and look at both sides of the coin. Here, it's a game to see if you can mass murder. Yes, tongue-in-cheek and obviously very fictional (There are partying bears and things), but you are literally serial killing for fun. So while it's fun and I do recommend it to people who like games that are thinkers, keep in mind that during the game you'll be questioning yourself and go “Am I really doing this?” more than a few times.