For the majority of us, life can be divided into two distinct stages. During the youthful first stage we are energetic, loud and reckless. This stage can be referred to as being “young”. This is when we can function on minimal sleep, provided we have an energy source of caffeine or refined sugar. We can stay awake during all hours of the night creating all sorts of ungodly racket, oblivious to the torment we are inflicting on others who follow a diurnal living schedule. At some point in our lives, an insidious transformation occurs. We enter the second stage, where we have become “old”. Since, we no longer have endless energy, sleep is a precious commodity. Night becomes a time for sleep instead of an orgiastic binge in hedonistic delights. The role of making a nocturnal ruckus assumed by a younger, hipper generation. Part of this transformation causes our brains to rewrite history and purges all memories of when we were forcibly inflicting insomnia of people in our vicinity. The transformation causes changes on a neurological level that causes thumping basslines and jubilant laughter at 2:00 a.m. to fill us with jackhammer rage. Most of us lack the necessary cojones to go on a homicidal rampage to get some annoying neighbors to quiet down, the protagonist of Party Hard does not. This serial killer simulator is the gaming embodiment of an Andrew WK song gone horribly wrong and it is loaded with dark humor.
The premise of Party Hard is you are a regular guy who is just trying to get a good night’s sleep. Your neighbors are having a loud party that is keeping you awake. This is a common occurrence that almost everyone has had to deal with at some point in their life, and in this case of art imitating life, you carry out the only logical solution: crash the party and do not leave until everyone is dead. (We at Steamfirst do not encourage homicide as a solution to any problems with your neighbors. We suggest earplugs, discussing noisy party hours with your neighbors, or filing a noise complaint with local law enforcement. Do not, repeat, do not kill anyone simply for being irritating, tempting as it may be.–Editor) Approaching this game like an action game is a recipe for a quick demise. During one of my attempts to beat the first level I ran into the party and stabbed everyone to death as quickly as I could, but after taking down only a half dozen guests the survivors beat me into submission until the police came to take me away. In order to silence the party, strategy and patience are paramount. I know when I am rudely awakened at 3:00 a.m. approximately zero percent of my brain is functional, so I understand this is a tall order, but nothing worth doing is ever easy.
There are various items that help facilitate party goer genocide at your disposal in each of the different parties, because what would a party be without great potential for maiming and killing? Some of these instruments of death are rather predictable such as putting poison in the food, making speakers explode, or setting the bedroom meth lab on fire. Some other options are more imaginative, such as having a bull charge at some guests or calling a UFO to let the crew of little green men do the dirty work for you. There are humorous pop culture references sprinkled throughout this game, and people who have an appreciation for sophisticated cinema will be pleased to know that Shark Tornadoes are included as a nod to one of the greatest film trilogies from the illustrious made for TV category. It is important to remember that while you are killing people trying to have a good time you need to avoid being seen, because the number one rule of criminality is do not get caught. I cannot stress this enough, I have spent a significant amount of time in prison and the one commonality every inmate shares is they broke rule number one. At each party you do not want to let a guest see you kill someone, because the little snitch is likely to call the cops. Also, if someone does call the cops and they stumble across a random dead body, it is a good idea to not be standing near the body. The cop will arrest you, because, I guess he thinks he has reasonable suspicion to do so. I don’t know if being near a corpse is solid enough evidence to lead to a conviction, but it is enough to lead to a game over screen. This adds another challenge like having to get a large number of people out of a room so you can take care of business. Luckily, your character is a very poor dancer, think if Elaine Benes and Carlton Banks had a love child and made in home dance lessons a major component of their child raising agenda. This means busting a move on the dance floor is a great way to cause a mass exodus out of whatever room you are in, leaving a small number of future corpses for you to work with. Sometimes you can acquire a bodyguard who will cop block for you once, or a change of clothing to elude the pursuing officer, but these are rare enough that they cannot be depended on as a means to avoid developing a well thought out approach.
The number of guests, along with what toys are at your disposal, are randomly generated each time you play, so you have to change up your approach ever so slightly each play through. The graphics are not going to win this game any awards, but they are sufficient for the type of game this is. The music is basic electronic party music that fits the atmosphere quite well, but the true strength lies in the addictive gameplay. I discovered this game at PAX and walked past the booth several times before I finally checked it out. The initial thought I had when I got a run down was this is going to be a mediocre game that uses shock value to sell itself. Perhaps the part about the shock value is true, but I instantly became hooked. I failed many times trying to exterminate the noisy partying vermin, but whenever I did beat a level I felt a sense of accomplishment. As one would hope, a game like this does not take itself seriously and is full little humorous touches. At one particular party I waited patiently by a stripper pole until Darth Vader wandered close enough so I could knife him in the back. His ability to sense a great disturbance in the Force was no match for my stripper pole enhanced stealth.
Given the history of controversy that is attached to video game violence, I asked developer how he could defend this very fun game against potential criticism that it is nothing more than a mass murder simulator. He stated this is just a game and it is not meant to be taken seriously. He does not advocate the mass murder of people simply because they irritate you, but I will add for those of us with that fantasy, this game is a great way to vicariously take out those frustrations. If you consider games making light of suburban genocide in poor taste, this might be a game to skip. If you enjoy a good puzzle game and can appreciate gallows humor, I cannot recommend this game enough. You can buy the game here. Follow me on Twitter