Platforms: Win, Linux
Lack of sleep will make you crazy, y’all. Party Hard is a bit of a cautionary tale; party too loudly too late and too often, your neighbor might just show up and crash the party by killing you and all your friends. Now that we’ve cleaned up after a mass murderer, it’s time to actually be one for a little bit.
Party Hard is one of those games that not all that easy to categorize – I tossed it in the stealth category of my Steam library since success depends on being sneaky, even if it doesn’t utilize classic stealth mechanics. On every level, your mission is simple – make sure everyone at the party doesn’t live to party another day. You always have the option to stab folks, but if someone sees you, they’re going to call the cops. There’s also a bunch of interactables on each level, allowing you do anything from poison the food, to set a room on fire, to hide a dead body. You fail the level if you manage to get yourself arrested or killed. I might have gotten run over by an approaching police car a couple of times while I was still figuring things out.
Although time does play a factor in your final level score, it’s more important to be careful than quick. Once I figured out that Party Hard is in no way a speed run (and also, hiding bodies matters), I started to make good progress. And note that just because the cops, EMTs or fire department get called, it doesn’t necessarily mean game over. Just hang out with a bunch of folks and try not too look overly suspicious.
There are 19 levels in the game, with additional levels available through the Steam Workshop. As you play through the story, there are also five unlockable characters. The levels aren’t static either – the setting is the same, but the items you find there and the number of party goers varies on each reload, so there’s a good amount of potential for replayability.
While graphically, there are quite a few similarities to Hotline Miami, the play is completely different, and relies more on patience and planning than twitch skills, which for me, makes it far and away the better game. The fact that the between level cutscenes are infused with just the right amount of camp is a fantastic bonus. After an initial bout of frustration, I’m actually enjoying Party Hard quite a lot.
There are a handful of non game-breaking bugs, but I haven’t stumbled across any crashes or other issues that would make the game unplayable. The game auto saves after every level, but there is no save anywhere – if you’re making good progress on a given level, you probably want to wrap it up before you quit the game. Playing through the entire story will only take 5-6 hours, but between the random elements, unlockable characters, achievements, and user-created content, if Party Hard is your pot of tea, you could be drinking it for quite awhile.