☆ PREVIEW: Party Hard 2 (Alpha release) - "Jason Vorhees with Tony Manero moves" ☆ #GameDev

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Party Hard 2 (ALPHA RELEASE) - PC
Pinoki games released Party Hard back in 2015 and it quickly became an Indie darling, having not played the first game (but having a lot of friends who did, and loved it) I was quite excited to get my hands on this Alpha release and see what the fuss was about. 

The story in Party Hard 2 is quite succinct, you didn’t get a Christmas bonus…and so it’s time to kill everyone. Got that? Good. I can go over it again if you’d like, just email me and I’ll pop around with a two-hour PowerPoint presentation covering it in more detail.
As I was installing Party Hard 2, there was a moment where I thought that I should perhaps play the first game to understand the controls and game play etc. but this is not required, for those of us who missed the first game, even in the Alpha state (which contains no tutorial and just throws you straight into the action) the mechanics and objectives of this game are almost instantly clear, kill your targets and get the hell out of dodge. If this seems overly simplistic, I can assure you that it’s not as straightforward as it sounds. I was surprised at the amount of stealth that the game requires in order to progress and how some random factors are thrown in can really ramp up the fun factor.
First, I’ll try and explain the layout of the game, the graphics are 2D sprites in a 3D world which differ from the original Party Hard’ completely 2D graphical style. As this is an Alpha version of the game, I’m not certain if these graphics will be the final product or not, but for me, they aren’t the games strongest asset, it does feel like some more detail could be added to characters and objects as they can sometimes appear indistinct. Beyond the sprites (that sounds like a Daft Punk album title, now that I read it back) the graphics improve, the lighting, explosions and ‘line-of-sight’ effects of the party goers are all nicely done and I came across no visual glitches as I played through the three-level copy that I received. The isometric viewpoint also works, giving a full-view of proceedings, the only time it got in the way for me was if a southern wall was blocking an object and the only reason I knew that something interactive was there was when an icon to interact appeared on the screen, this could be solved with a more subtle use of the scenery effect in How to Survive 2, which is another game that could have suffered from similar issues in regards to the viewing angle. Again, this could be solved by the time of Party Hard 2’s release.

The sound in the game is very focused on the music as opposed to effects. Whilst explosions, police sirens and other incidental sounds feature in the game, the pumping soundtrack is the main attraction here. In each level, there will be a DJ that you can approach and change the track playing in-game which I thought was a nice touch and adds variety.
Control-wise, things are pretty straightforward,, left-stick controls your movement, left trigger makes your character run (he can run about as far as I can, if I was carrying a fridge filled with wet cement), R1 highlights any objects of interest surrounding the player character and the right trigger, when charged makes a circle appear around your character and kills anyone within its range, although you have to be careful of any witnesses when using this.
The first level (a nightclub) sets the challenge of killing five dealers and five sorters. With my trusty knife, I headed into the party and naturally, started dancing (yes, the game has a ‘dance’ button, good) to check out my surroundings and work out who whose claret my blade would spill first. I thought I’d pick off some party goers on the shush and try to get the attention of some of my targets so that I could lure them towards me pick them off in the toilets, quietly. This quickly went south as I got caught dragging someone from the corridor into the rest rooms, they, in turn, alerted the police and I was soon beaten down and arrested for my murderous ways. It became clear that I needed to be more tactical than hanging around in the bogs whistling nonchalantly whilst covered in blood and surrounded by corpses. My next attempt saw me sabotaging the jukebox to explode whilst I sneaked through a vent to introduce the drug sorters to my pal, Mr Stabby. All was going well until I got excited on the dance floor, thought no-one was looking and killed another of my targets….turns out people were looking after all and the police once against introduced their nightsticks to my testicles with marked tenacity.

There are other items of interest in the game as well that can assist you in your goals, bins to hide bodies, electrical appliances that can be rigged to explode and shortcuts through vents and boarded-up areas. One of the highlights of the game for me were the times that I rigged something to explode, darted off around the corner to avoid suspicion and began dancing wildly as an explosion blew several people off their feet. I liked the random events that can occur in the game, someone at the party may suspect someone else of being the killer and they get dragged off to the clink instead of you, allowing you to ‘mwohahaha’ on the pavement before heading back into the party to clumsily  show someone your dagger, at speed. Someone in the party may try to walk into a restricted area, resulting in getting a kicking from the security guard, allowing you to slip past, etc.
The one concern that I did have about the game was the longevity, as noted in previous reviews, I never play any games online and I understand from the first game that the online gaming community really took a shine to this game. Although I have thoroughly enjoyed the Alpha version, there are only three stages currently on offer and even if in the final version there are fifteen or twenty stages, I’m not sure how long it would be before the game got tiresome or repetitive (unless there’s local co-op which really extends the shelf-life of games, for me personally) or if some new gameplay elements were introduced as the game progressed, for instance, multiple floors, or objects that required more complexity to interact with, different weapons, etc.

To summarise, the vibes that I got from the game were a mix of Hotline Miami (learning
curve, pace and the arcade-feel), Mother Russia Bleeds (graphical style, gore, dark humour) and oddly, Death Wish 3 on the Amstrad CPC (the ‘do what you want’ approach combined with a pumping soundtrack, well… as pumping as things could get in 1987 on an 8-bit machine).

Right, I’m off to dance surreptitiously near some petrol cans that I’ve set alight.

Game Link: Steam
Dev Link: Pinokl Games

Reviewed By Britt
(from @kingdomofcarts)

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