Party Hard 2 is the upcoming sequel to Hello Games’ Party hard; a 2.5D violent stealth title busting with garish neon lights and electronic music. The game is currently in its Alpha build with 3 levels available to play. We took some time to get to grips with this over-the-top killfest.
Needless to say, the game looks and sounds fantastic. With a killer electronic soundtrack and a brand new engine, they’ve turned the detail in the levels up to a more realistic standard whilst keeping the pixelated charm of the characters. It works really well, and the explosion animations are superb.
You play the same masked maniac from the first game – a guy hellbent on destruction because his neighbours were partying too hard at 3am. This time round he’s pissed because he didn’t get his Christmas bonus, which to be fair would rub me the wrong way around the holidays. In response to this, he decides to take out his frustration at every party he can find starting with his colleagues and their Christmas party, because if he can’t have fun, no-one can!
The 3 playable levels so far include a bar, club and hospital (Hospital Rave, fuck yeahhh!). You begin each level with a set of targets. It’s up to you to try to work your way around the level and eliminate these targets without anyone spotting you and calling the police, resulting in your unfortunate incarceration. Many comparisons have been drawn by critics between Party Hard and Hitman which is a comparison the devs at Pinokl Games reinforce. I’d say there definitely were influences and some straight up borrowed ideas such as the instinct system (which works very well) used to identify characters and objects of significance, but the two games don’t really play in any similar fashion at all. Party Hard 2 plays like its own animal, and is all the better for it.
Your arsenal of weapons is limited to your knife as you begin the round. Dotted throughout the levels are other items such as gas cans, bottles of booze and bear traps. These can all be utilised in different ways. Light the gas canisters and leave them to blow in a crowded room. Set a bear trap at the bottom of a set of stairs you predict your target to walk down, or feed your target plenty of booze until they’re sick and need to find somewhere to chunder, making them perfectly susceptible to a cheeky knife attack. No doubt Pinokl have a tonne more usable weapons in store for the player, but this was enough to get a flavour of the diversity in tactics.
Not only are there usable weapons in the game, but also a number of environmental kills at your disposal too. I was reminded why you never mix electricity and water. My eyes were opened as to the value of ventilation fans as people shredders, and I never realised before now how that a jukebox could be used as a deadly weapon; other than by playing rap-core, I mean.
The game’s not easy. My first attempts were absolutely fruitless to the point of frustration, but after quite a few tries (I’m embarrassed to say how many), the methodology of the game became so much clearer to me. There were strategies available beyond stabbing everyone that got in my way, hoping that no-one else bore witness. For example, at the start of The Club, a bouncer is standing at the front door. If you try to pass him, he’ll smack you in the face and throw you out. After a few mindless endeavours, I worked out that I could give alcohol to a bunch of punks sitting out the back of the club. This would cause one to need to be sick and run into the club to find a bathroom. The bouncer would then knock out the punk and throw him out, causing all the other punks to jump up in protest, outnumber the bouncer and give him a good kickin’, leaving him out cold on the floor. I was then free to walk in and out as I wished.
These alternative routes will be key to keeping Party Hard 2 fresh for the player. The combat mechanics work, but due to the large number of characters on the screen, it’s difficult to take out a lot of players without being seen. If you are seen and the police are called, it’s nearly almost always game over. They’re too tough to take out with your knife and nearly impossible to hide from.
There are definitely a few other niggling issues that I’d like to see taken care of before the full release. Namely…
- Certain tools such as the bottle of alcohol are infinitely reusable. This allows you to keep feeding your targets liquor until they venture off to an area that is suitable for quietly dispatching them. I think it would be better (and logical) to make a bottle of booze have limited uses so that you needed to be strategic about who you gave it to and when.
- The guards that patrol certain doorways won’t let you in to areas, but once you find another way in, they’re happy to let you wander the halls and exit through that doorway without comment. However if you try to come back in that doorway, they’ll return to smacking you and throwing you out. I think it would be better for the continuity of the game if there were restricted areas as opposed to just entrances. Or maybe a mixture of the two, at least.
- You’re able to sprint, albeit not for very long. Once you run out of breath, you need to stay absolutely still for your breath bar to refill. This is quite irritating and I don’t much see the purpose. The breath bar should refill at a walking pace so that you’re not left standing pointlessly stationary. It’s just no fun.
What else can we expect from the final build? Well, the first game was pretty insane. From this Alpha, we see a relatively “normal” series of settings and characters. The original was anything but, with aliens, stampeding critters and a flying bum, just to name a few. I’d expect we see a similar array of madness before Party Hard 2’s release. And that’s a good thing.
Party Hard 2 in its Alpha state is already shaping up to be quite the game. It looks and sounds like Hotline Miami. It borrows some successful ideas from Hitman, but retains its own individual sense of style, which is of vital importance. We’re going to be following this development closely and can’t wait to play the full game, due for release Q1 2018.
Check out the full announcement trailer below.