Party Hard 2: Party Harder
Before we delve into this one we should just for the record state, Murder is Bad. Does everyone have that down? Video games have never shied away from controversy or sensitive issues. Going back to Atari 2600s Custer’s Revenge we can trace a steady pattern of limit-pushing titles all the way to the present day. While some deserve the attention, others like the infamous Night Trap garnered attention for no real reason. That said our current state of affairs has seen a steady increase in mature content with many pushing limits just to see what they can get away with, I’m looking at you Don’t Get Caught. Pinokl with an assist from TinyBuild look to step up the substance as well as the violence with their follow up Party Hard 2. Is this one worth a bender or just another sloppy outing with miserable morning results?
For the uninitiated Party Hard is at its core a trial error puzzle game where you take on the role of the aptly labelled Party Hard Killer. Often kept awake by your neighbours incessant partying ways you seek to rid the world of all this noise and just get some sleep. Of course, the loose narrative serves only as fodder as you quickly learn this sandbox puzzle will require some devious planning in order to eliminate your targets. The sequel builds on this and brings more to the table than just a “2” slapped on at the end. PH2 shakes things up a bit this time offering several objectives that can be satisfied in order to complete a stage as opposed to the “Kill them all” approach of its predecessor. With this addition, you will find new traps, new weapons, and a new crafting mechanic that will have your pixel hitman scouring every nook and cranny looking for interactive items.
Visually the pixelated world has not looked better. Gone is the flat 2D aesthetic that dominated the first title. Instead, we are treated to a more 2.5D camera angle adding a little depth to the environment. This is not without its flaws as some of the darker areas are hard to navigate with this view making simple navigation a chore from time to time. That said, the environments themselves and their occupants have never felt more alive, for the limited time you allow them to remain that way. NPCs feel more lively this time around. As in the first title, levels run the gamut of settings. Everything from neighbour’s apartments to biker hangouts is all in play. Additionally, the multiple characters (after being unlocked) are fun and offer different playthroughs and styles as you kill your way across the 14 stages which include BOSS BATTLES this time. While not wholly original these few encounters do shake up the gameplay and require quick thinking and faster reflexes. Docked the game looks crisp but suffers from the tiny sprites used. This is more apparent when interacting with objects like pill bottles, which can wreak havoc on an AC system.
WHEN IT’S TIME TO PARTY, WE PARTY HARD
Control-wise there is little to complain about. The previously mentioned crafting system sounds great on paper but the execution is a bit less rewarding. If you happen to have a bottle and a jerry can you can hold B and make a Molotov. There is no real discovery here nor is it robust like something from Dead Island or Dead Rising. However, it doesn’t need to be. The satisfaction comes with planning and executing, for lack of a better word, your plans. Pouring the gasoline in a pattern just right, so that when you tamper with the hookah the entire party is lit. Pun definitely intended. Additionally, you can now interact even more with NPCs adding a new level of hilarity as you watch sober party-goers end up piss drunk causing a scene that allows you to eliminate one of the goons on your hit list. The addition of vehicles is novel but feels a tad shoehorned as they don’t control the best and ultimately don’t add much to the overall experience.
Audio-wise PH2 comes out guns blazing. The sound effects are subtle and honestly feel like a partial step back. This is countered however, buy an excellent soundtrack that will have your speakers (or headphones) bumping at all hours of the night. The included voice work during the cut scenes is nice and recorded well but suffers from some lacklustre writing which deters from the overall immersion.
So with a new coat of paint and some tweaks is Pary Hard 2 worth your time? Yes. The replayability of this title is baked into its very DNA. The semi procedurally generated levels offer new challenges long after your final victim falls down. The lack of online co-op again hurts but the local co-op option does offer some salvation for those looking to bring a friend along. The beauty is truly in the simplicity. PH does not try to tread new ground but instead polish what was already in place and give fans more of the often humorous violent encounters. The sheer absurdity of the situations and the setup alone are worth the entry price for newcomers and returning players. The Nintendo Switch is a perfect home for this one even without the touch controls.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, Nintendo
Release Date: 08/09/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Action, Strategy
Developer: Pinokl Games
Publisher: TinyBuild Games
Download link: eShop