Sunday, November 25

Review: Party Hard [Nintendo Switch eShop]

I’m definitely a person who appreciates a good night’s sleep and tend to get a bit testy when noise is keeping me up. I’m not positive that would ever push me to murder but the fact that this seems to have been the impetus to trigger the Party Hard killer starting his killing spree can at least be appreciated on some level. We’ll just skip right to the point, this is a game where you’ll take control of a serial killer whose goal is to wipe out every person in every location you visit. As you may expect, trying to murder roughly 50 people without being caught can be a grim and tricky business, but if you have a twisted streak in you it can also be fun at times.

On a general level I’d say this game tends to play out in phases. Initially you’ll need to simply become accustomed to how the game works in general, and this can take a little while to understand everything. Coming up behind someone to stab them is easy, how to do that anywhere near other partygoers can be a serious challenge. At what range will you be seen, how to observe how people go from room to room, how long it takes you to pick up a body and get it to a place where you can dispose of it… all of these things will require experimentation and often failure to understand. Once the cops are called and they’re after you all isn’t necessarily lost, most stages have a place you can escape them once (before a handyman you can’t kill seals it up), and if you’re crafty you can even kill them as well, but in general playing things patiently will always be your best bet.

Once you’ve got the base down you’ll tend to be thinking about the specifics of the party you’re crashing. You’ll want to explore the room and see what you’re able to interact with. There are traps you can set, fires you can start, food and drinks to poison, and sometimes special objects you can pick up that give you an added weapon in your arsenal. More than anything you’ll want to know your escape routes and places you can dump bodies since they can be what saves you. While it isn’t essential to success there’s something satisfying to coming up with a pretty good plan for the progression of death and mayhem.Trying to get a few people in a room so they’ll all be killed in a blast can be tricky but rewarding so try not to waste any of your means of mass murder.

As kill your way across America you’ll encounter new locations that each have their own layout and challenges, opportunities to work with different killers who can have some unusual traits you’ll need to consider, and plenty of situations that will test your patience. As you get down to fewer and fewer people there’s an odd tension that emerges. You’ll want to finish things up and move on to the next city but understanding that a late mistake can force you to start all over can make offing those last 5 partiers who insist on staying together painful.

Given the theme and morbid action of the game it’s absolutely not something for everyone. With its pixel art looks it never gets terribly graphic but playing a game in the role of a mass murderer won’t be for everyone. The fact that every time you hit a party you can’t count on any specific element being in the same place or present at all is a terrific touch that guarantees there’s no consistent path to success, you’ll just need to improvise sometimes. I’ll give Party Hard credit, it’s a unique and challenging spin on a puzzle game that delivers some fun if you’re on board with its style… and have a fair amount of patience.

Score: 7.5

  • There’s no doubt its premise is unique
  • Many strange means of killing people
  • Alternative killers have their own benefits and weaknesses that change play up a bit

  • This is not a game for the impatient
  • There’s a degree of quirkiness and inconsistency to how things can play out, which can be aggravating
  • Ultimately the gameplay does become repetitive even if the settings and some details shift from city to city