STAFF REVIEW of Party Hard (Xbox One)

Saturday, April 30, 2016.
by Brent Roberts

Party Hard Box art As we near the summer months, we say goodbye to snow and hello to sunshine. Goodbye to staying indoors and hello to parties all over the world! Party Hard by Pinokl Games is a recent release under the ID@Xbox program, and for $12.99 you can partake in the antics of a serial killer bent on one thing: to finally get some peace and quiet. So how does Party Hard fare and should you buy it? Let's look inside and see what we can find.

As soon as you begin you'll notice that Party Hard does a fantastic job paying homage to some of the best in electronic music. Going into the main mission selection screen you're treated to what can be described as a pixelated treatment of Daft Punk "Get Lucky", so already I have love for Pinokl Games.

As you begin Party Hard, you'll notice that this game tends to stray towards what one could consider to be a bad cop drama trope. Trying to not take itself too seriously, Party Hard delivers what I would like to call, "intentionally horrible voice over acting". What I mean by that is that Party Hard knows going into this that it's not going to end well, so why not put your foot down and over exaggerate everything to play off of itself?

You play the role of a man who is just trying to get some sleep, but when he is awoken by a noisy house party at 3:00 A.M. with no signs of ever stopping, you reach for your modified Jason hockey mask, grab your blade, and go crash the party. The story itself of Party Hard isn't that entertaining or captivating, but along the way you're treated to a B horror movie with homage to great horror flicks such as Psycho and other classics.

As you navigate the party you will find that the layouts are slightly randomized as they switch whenever your character dies or becomes busted by the police and you need to replay a level. First and foremost, the control scheme for Party Hard is almost as simplistic as it gets. The 'Left Stick' is used for your movement while the 'X' and 'Y' buttons are used for stabbing and executing traps. Your character can sprint using the 'Right Trigger' but that is fairly limited and in the end does very little in terms of escaping cops when needed.

It's safe to say that the learning curve for the control scheme is damn near flat lined and you will find yourself spending more time waiting for the opportunity to activate a trap or stab someone with your knife instead. Each one of these parties takes you to various location such as a yacht party that's surrounded by man eating sharks, a Las Vegas night club where you need to worry about bank robbers, to even a roof top disco party where the dance floor can literally kill you. While these different scenes play in to the ludicrous storyline, there's one thing that can't be denied: the pixel art is fantastic.

I know that it's not ultra-modern HD super realistic graphics, but sometimes if done right, less is definitely more, and that's the case with Party Hard. The real treat is how these characters dress up, as you'll see characters such as Ronald McDonald, Hulk Hogan, Dracula, and so much more that it really becomes comical in a sense to see just who is attending these parties. One time I had Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre appear and he tore through everyone until a cop finally put him down, showcasing pixel gore at its finest.

This also goes the same for some of the traps throughout the various levels. I thoroughly enjoyed pissing off a bull, causing it to charge across the map while wiping out everyone in its path. I also thoroughly enjoyed watching an entire dance floor of people break out into a conga line, where I then hit the switch and sent the entire dance floor up in flames. As you progress you can collect items such as stun bombs, changes of clothes, and more to help you kill. The stun bomb works wonders if you have a large crowd because once it goes off it will literally knock out everyone nearby and open them up for easy killing and escape.

While utilizing traps and navigating through the various levels can be entertaining, the real beauty of this game is the audio, though not all the audio is worth praise. For instance, every level has its own music which is heavily inspired by great tunes already out there, so kudos to the developers for that but The problem is not only in the voice acting but the yells and screams coming from the guests themselves when you start slaughtering. When you just happen to leave a body around, it's not uncommon to hear at least 10 screams or yells, or a mixture of both, and when you're talking about slaughtering over 45 people, that amounts to a lot of yelling and that becomes very annoying quite quickly.

While yes, it goes without saying that this game does tap into something that is sort of mind numbing enjoyable, do I think it's worth the $12.99? Only if you buy it on Friday the 13th. I would say that if Party Hard were on sale for $7.99 or below then it would be a much better bargain. The humor is lackluster and there are setbacks that really seem to deflate the fun from this game. The sheer amount of repetition will have you struggling to complete the game, but thankfully the 26 achievements will award you for your trudging efforts.

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.8 / 10
Sound: 6.4 / 10


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