My upstairs neighbors don’t speak much English. I deduced this because every weekend they sit on their porch and blare music in Portuguese at highly unreasonable levels.
Every. Got. Damn. Weekend.
I don’t want you to think that I’m just using my inherently All-American skill of racial profiling to say that I don’t think they speak much English. There were obvious communication barriers that supported this thesis when I politely knocked on their door to ask they turn the volume down a little. Barriers that even me shirtless and yelling off of my balcony later that same night couldn’t even overcome.
But everything I tried was in vain. I’m no snitch, so I didn’t call the police. Instead, I just grumbled internally and waited for them to eventually go to sleep, seething with a broiling and passionate hate for all things joyous. I tell you this so that you know just how well I can relate to the masked killer in Pinochl Games’ Party Hard 2.
Party Hard 2 is the sequel to 2015’s Party Hard, which found you taking control of a masked-killer rampaging through loud, extravagant parties all for the sake of getting some peace and quiet so he could get some damn rest. Party Hard 2 follows in its predecessor’s action-stealth gameplay, tasking you with slaying partygoers while trying to avoid detection, law enforcement, or the occasional time-travelling android sent from the future to terminate you from existence – but more on that in a bit.
The first thing that is noticeable is the graphical improvements. The original was a pretty, pixelated game that looks like it drew inspiration from the Hotline Miami series. The sequel takes this and bumps it to the next level by adding 3D elements and dynamic lighting effects. I found the artwork to be that same seemingly simplistic art style, but the details in each character and environment are a lot richer, giving the aesthetics more strength. I was also a fan of the user interface. While it did take away a little of the minimalist feel, I didn’t mind being able to see my stamina or even a graphic letting me know the cops were actively searching for me.
As far as the gameplay goes, there were a few differences that I thought were for the better. The first is that the game is more objective based. You can still complete levels by mass murdering all the available victims on a map. But, you can also, in the style of Hitman, only take out certain targets and make your escape. Another new feature is that your character has a signature move that can cause some serious damage. The masked-killer’s move is a quick attack that, after a short charge, kills everyone in a radius around the player – a move I found perfect to kill off smaller side rooms with a few party-goers.
Like the first game, there are multiple characters to choose from – each with a unique skill-set and signature move – but at the time of writing they were either not available or I wasn’t cool enough to unlock them. You also have inventory space that you can fill with various items and weapons found throughout the maps. Plus, it’s 2018, so you can’t actually call yourself a game without having crafting of some sort, right? So use that booze and gasoline you found to make a nice molotov cocktail.
Oh yeah, the future android; should probably get to that. There are special characters in the game that can be situationally summoned, show up under certain conditions, or appear at random. Looking at a poster for a local circus, the player can call the circus and their dancing bear shows up and makes everyone uncomfortable. If things are destroyed, there’s a good chance a certain Lemon Pledge wielding housekeeper will show up to start cleaning. One time I was standing in an alley, when there was a swirl of electricity and a large, naked man (who I can only assume has a thick Austrian accent and propensity for sleeping with the maid) appeared and seemed tasked with only seeking out and terminating my character. These special NPCs are not only fun pop culture references, but they also add some variety to levels and strategies.
Twitch integration is also included on launch day allowing viewers to use actual buttons to control or place NPCs around the map and add items or objectives – helping or trolling the streamer in their quest for sanguine satiation. Different NPCs have different actions, so placing a bouncer at a key travel point would likely be a frustrating situation of getting your ass handed to you while trying to make your way through a level, whereas someone spawning a molotov cocktail for the streamer might be just what they need to get through that tricky spot.
Overall, it feels like an improvement over the first game in every way. There are still moments where random NPC placement and behavior are frustrating. I’m not a huge fan of learning different techniques for clearing levels when it’s not certain I can use them, but it does offer variety and give more satisfaction when you achieve a huge kill combo from a single action.
Party Hard 2 is developed by Pinokl Games and published by tinyBuild and releases October 25th 2018 on PC.