Preview – Party Hard 2 (PC)

Have you felt that the noise levels have been getting too high recently? Are you troubled by the number of young people acting in debauchery all hours of the night? Do you wish you could do something about crime and drugs, but don’t feel like having your parents shot first? Then I believe it might be time to don a different sort of mask and Party Hard. And, this time, it’s personal. Or at least more selective and it makes it seem more personal. Maybe it’s not personal at all? Whatever, we’re back.Welcome to Party Hard 2.

Party Hard was a story of a man who was simply trying to get some rest and went in a three or four digit murder spree in order to achieve piece and quiet. The objectives were to use stealth, opportunity and timing to kill literally every else in the building, and it was fantastic. I got the game twice, once for Steam and once on my iPhone, because the subway makes you feel a certain way and I’d rather do my homicides in a game. It had a good amount of replay value between a variety of ways to accomplish your “goal,” as well as some great DLC and Steam Workshop levels. Party Hard has a legacy to it already, and Party Hard 2 is stepping up to try and match and hopefully surpass that level of attention and enjoyment.

(Party Hard 2) Relax, everyone! I'm only here to kill some of you! - TICGN

Although only in alpha 2, there’s already plenty to see and do in Party Hard 2. There are only two stages currently to choose from, the Club and the Bar, so the “storyline” hasn’t exactly been made cohesive. However, gone is the simple meter for how many bodies are still warm that you need to take care of. Instead, the player has three objectives: take out drug dealers, take out another group (either bikers or thugs) and the critical goal, evacuate. The original Party Hard concluded when the last person fell, and it was always a little odd that killing sixty four people simply ended with you being satisfied and pretty sure the cops weren’t coming back, even though there had been like three or four 911 calls since you got there. This new format gives incentive for more cautious gameplay, as getting your ass out in one piece turns you more into a hitman and less a crazed murderer. Don’t get me wrong, you can still slaughter whoever you need (or simply would like) to take care of along the way, there just isn’t currently a reason for it, and it’ll more than likely get the cops on your ass.

There are a few new game mechanics worth mentioning, though I’m sure others will be crawling out of the woodwork as we make our way towards beta and full release (though when that is will be anyone’s guess). The first major item I found is booze. Errand bottles of drank can be found strewn throughout the level and can be given to random NPCs to induce vomiting and general sickness. Once they start heaving, they’ll either stop where they are and puke or, in a couple of cases, make their way to the toilets (it may have been coincidence, as it seemed very infrequent). Party Hard 2 really wants to make sure that the right people get killed (and others, if you have time). This is great for separating certain targets from the herd, but it needs to be done strategically. You cannot give booze to folk on your kill list, and it also doesn’t work on police, bouncers and anyone else who’s job is to not put up with your shit. So if you end up getting your escape hatch patched because you fled from the cops, don’t expect the carpenter to leave it be just because you offer them a pint.

(Party Hard 2) Civilian, civilian,, murder meat! Sold! - TICGN

The next big additions to Party Hard 2 are two new buttons, instinct and ultimate. Instinct creates a sort of infrared vision field that sorts everyone according to color. Kill targets will naturally have a crosshairs that float above them, but it’s easy to miss when they hide in the throng of the crowd. However, when everyone becomes separated by red (targets), orange (cops/bouncers) and gray (meat), you can get a better sense of where to go and what to plan next. Proper planning can lead to a clean execution of the ultimate button, which you may have an idea of what it does if you’ve played any FPS games in recent memory. The ultimate is a proximity “bomb” that kills everyone in a nearby radius and is the ultimate in gambling. This would have been amazing in the original Party Hard as a way to quickly end the level when you don’t want to chase people around, but PH2 makes it an incredibly risky move. Remember the whole “evacuate” thing? That’s going to be difficult if you’ve just exploded into a murder shower and now everyone who wasn’t eviscerated is on their cell phones calling the cops. Still, it can be useful when you’re only in a room with a few people and you want to clear the area for distraction and future use.

Several other neat items: some traps, like gasoline cans, can be picked up and used in other rooms, making it more feasible to try and coordinate multiple traps like an 80’s style Jigsaw. The police now have informants before and after murders, so there will be people in the club who can turn on you that aren’t bouncers (I noticed a high number of banana costumes becoming narcs). Cell phones are definitely a thing, and some people can call for the cops without needing to find a payphone that I’m conveniently waiting next to. And running, which is so important to your “not getting arrested” plan, is now represented by a healthy set of lungs that deplete as you use up your energy. A minor change, but one that makes it feel more organic than a classic line bar like the previous game.

(Party Hard 2) The car was on fire when I got here, officer - You, probably (TICGN)

Graphically and aurally, things in Party Hard 2 appear to have been polished but not necessarily improved upon. The pseudo pixel art is still king, yet it’s cleaner and uses more light and shadow to give depth to the levels and to the stages (which are also physically bigger this time around). The music is still a synth heavy and focused on a pounding, driving atmosphere that lets you know you’re in the club, the energy is high and you’ve got a knife. As I felt that these two categories needed the least amount of tweaking in a sequel, I’m glad that Pinokl didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water in making a new game.

Though this is only alpha 2, Party Hard 2 shows a huge amount of promise as a sequel that could surpass the original in terms of direction and strategy, and time will show if outright psychotic murder is still the name of the game. Keep an eye on The Inner Circle as we continue to deliver updates when new versions of the game are released. Until then, sharpen those knives and clean your mask, because this will be a hell of a night to behold.

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