I had an absolute blast when Party Hard released on Steam in 2015. The idea of playing a serial killer preying on partygoers just tickled my fancy in ways that MIGHT have made me question my sanity a bit. Then again, with shows like Criminal Minds and Making a Murderer being so popular, is it really a surprise that people resonated with Party Hard? Now that the sequel has finally hit the market, I wanted to see if the team at Pinoki Games could make lightning strike twice. Let me tell you, they have upped the ante big time.
Party Hard 2 begins simply enough. It is 3 AM, and all you want to do is get some sleep. The problem is, your neighbors are having another raging party. So, what else is there to do but end their party? Of course, the methods in which you end it are less than legal. The game is set 10 years after the first Party Hard, and one of the four playable characters happens to be the Party Hard killer, who has begun his killing spree again.
There are two difficulty levels, Medium and Hard. Despite this, the game eases you into things, teaching you mechanics and giving you the opportunity to experiment with various ways of completing your task. Obviously, the goal is to complete the objectives in each level, however, the way you complete them is up to you. Do you kill everyone at a party or just the targets that fit your objective? That is entirely up to you.
Interestingly enough, different objectives in each level fall under four different styles of play. There is Criminal, Anarchy, Stealth, and Mystic. Completing objective types that have the icon for a specific style, will raise your rank in that style, offering a variety of rewards. This is where things get tricky. Party Hard 2 at its core is a stealth game.
If a partygoer sees evidence of injury or death, they will call EMTs to take the bodies. If there is a fire or explosion, the partygoers not caught in the blaze will flee the area. The problem is, if someone sees you kill another person, they will run and call the police, who with surely catch you. However, if you kill them first, or make sure that you set traps and things so that you are long gone before anyone notices, then you are free to incite mayhem and chaos.
Party Hard 2 gives you plenty of opportunities to sow discord amongst partygoers. In fact, they have even implemented a crafting system to help you. Combining things like water cans, gas cans, alcohol bottles, and adrenaline pills can cause a variety of effects. You can also use items on their own, such as using cash to bribe bouncers, or water cans to create a spill to electrocute partygoers.
The trick to succeeding at Party Hard 2, is getting a feel for the entirety of each level. There are sometimes shortcuts between areas and other secrets that allow you to bypass obstacles like bouncers or security. Understanding what traps and craftable items lay in each level will help you to adequately eliminate your targets.
That is not all you need to keep an eye on though. In every level, there are posters with tips, information, and a very useful mechanic. Some posters allow you to trigger certain events, such as calling a circus, who will deliver a living bear to the party. This bear (if provoked) can attack partygoers, and cause chaos all over the party venue.
Many of these events were accessible in the previous game via Twitch integration, where the chat could vote on unique events that would help or hinder the player. Now they are available in certain levels to call upon at will.
Twitch Integration returns in Party Hard 2, allowing viewers to trigger events, and either help the streamer succeed, or make things harder for them. The developers at Pinoki games have taken it a step further though. At the beginning of each session, viewers have a limited amount of time to set objectives, decide where partygoers, traps, and items spawn, and even have an NPC with their name on it.
Twitch integration has a few more in-depth secrets, but I won’t spoil those here, as I do not want to diminish the fun of discovery, or the joy of trying it out with your favorite streamer. However, the above video details some of the changes and intricacies of it, so feel free to give that a look if you want.
The developers have also added local co-op, enabling you and a friend to go on a killing spree together. I can’t even begin to imagine how many different options having two killers would open up. In fact, I think this is a great little option for people who maybe want to experience the game, but have a hard time with it on their own.
I really and truly love the changes that the developers have made in Party Hard 2. Each of the four characters has unique strengths and abilities (such as the Party Hard Killer’s multi-kill ability, allowing him to AOE kill partygoers around him.) Additionally, there are 14 stages (including 2 boss fights) that are varied and interesting. Each character can also use Party Vision, which allows you to isolate targets and things you can interact within the environment.
Each level asks that you approach the objectives differently, based on the layout of the level and the behavior of its partygoers. This variety, mixed with the sheer freedom of play styles provided, gives you a true sense of control over your proverbial destiny. Rarely does failure feel unfair unlike the first game; instead it is merely a learning experience where you understand more about the level itself.
The levels are larger than those in the first game as well, giving you not only more opportunities for traps and kills, but also a wider area for your partygoers to spread out. This can sometimes be a good thing, since there are usually a few places in the levels that you can kill people, then hide bodies so no one is the wiser.
Party Hard 2 is not without its faults, however. The storyline isn’t as compelling as the original game’s storyline to me. Perhaps it is because I really enjoyed the story for the first game, but it just doesn’t seem as engrossing this time around. I also find that the difficulty spikes in odd places, and being someone that isn’t great at stealth, I would appreciate an easy difficulty that is more accessible for less skilled players. This would be a great option for people who love the game and the concept, and just want to have a bit of fun with it, without the hard as nails frustration.
They did attempt to address this with a certain character you can play as, but they punish you by locking achievements if you use him, so it is less friendly to casual players than I might like. I also find that the traps sometimes do not have a wide enough range to be useful. There were a few times where I would throw a Molotov, only to discover that it was just SLIGHTLY (mere pixels) out of range to catch my target on fire. This usually would cause my target to flee to a new area, causing me to have to completely rethink my strategy.
On top of that, if you are being chased by the police, it is practically impossible to escape. In the previous game, you could make a mistake, and with the right amount of luck and skill, you could evade capture. Party Hard 2 is much less forgiving, and you are better off not getting caught at all, otherwise, you will likely be forced to restart.
Overall, I actually think that Party Hard 2 is an improvement over its predecessor. No, it isn’t perfect, and it does have some issues, but I would wager that a lot of people will have fun with it. The gameplay makes up for the shortcomings in its story, and the versatility in it gives it plenty of replay value. Whether you are a streamer that wants to have fun with your viewers or just a fan of the first game, I think there is a lot to love here.
The music in Party Hard 2 is catchy and upbeat, and the game has a retro aesthetic, despite being set in an ambiguous time period. The graphics are more rich and vibrant than the first game, and it is a colorful feast for the eyes. While it may not be drastically different than its predecessor, the improvements they have made are definitely worth your time.
A PC review copy of Party Hard 2 was provided by tinyBuild for the purpose of this review.
Party Hard 2$19.99 USD
- Beautiful Retro-esque audio and visuals
- Multiple ways to play each level
- Addictive gameplay
- Easy to understand Crafting system
- Co-op and Twitch Integration adds to Already-Present Replay-Value
- Difficulty Spikes in odd places
- Storyline isn't as compelling
- Trap radius is sometimes inconsistent