House Party Review

House Party Review

Whether you fall into the target demographic for House Party can be determined by answering a couple of simple questions: 1) Are you a horny dude and 2) do you have a high tolerance for poorly made puzzle games with terrible writing, ugly graphics and more game-breaking bugs than a frat boy's kitchen? If the answer is yes, then do we have a game for you! If no, then move along.

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House Party was supposedly "inspired" by such classics as Leisure Suit Larry or Secret of Monkey Island, but even the notoriously tacky Larry had infinitely more wit and intelligence than House Party, which has about as much depth and style as a poorly written Penthouse letter. I guess the idea here is that in 2018, a game featuring sex, nudity and misogyny presented with a juvenile smirk is supposed to be daring. 

There's no denying that one of the appeals of games like The Sims is the potential for erotic encounters between characters, blurred and hidden behind euphemism as they are, so creating a game that is predicated on cartoon sex is not entirely outlandish. Where House Party utterly fails is in the execution, from its horndog male-centered view of women as objects to be manipulated to its already dated looking and poorly optimized graphics. 

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You play a first person (male) character attending hostess Madison's house party with, of course, the main objective of getting laid. You do this through the "timeless art of seduction," defined in House Party terms as clicking through dialogue trees, performing dumb and dull fetch, inventory and "puzzle" quests and trying to outsmart the game's capricious and inconsistent logic. Almost without exception, the dialogue in House Party has all the maturity and understanding of complex human behavior and motivation as that of a randy middle schooler. To call its party-going characters one-dimensional would be an insult to stick figures and although dialogue choices have occasional long term consequences, just as often as not even particularly insulting remarks or lewd behavior seems to be forgotten. It is possible, for example, to walk around the house entirely naked (and, um, "at attention") and save for a few meaningless quips from various characters, this particularly sociopathic behavior (and far worse) has no gameplay consequence. And then there is the bizarrely uptight Frank, who will kill you and end your game for being drunk or sneaking alcohol to another guest. 

Despite attention being inevitably lavished - as it somehow always is in games like this - on breast physics, overall House Party looks low rent, from its textures to character design. Bad games have more than once been rescued by standout graphics but alas, some marginally effective facial animations do not elevate the visuals overall. As to the environment, it's a house, and not an especially interesting one at that. At least the environment is better than the music, which is repetitive and stylistically limited. 

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What's most depressing about House Party is that some folks probably believe that this poorly written mess of a game is somehow daring.  A juvenile take on sexuality, liberal profanity, and objectification of women are not daring, they're just... juvenile. Creating lifelike, complex characters with believable motivations and emotions - that is a difficult task, obviously light years beyond House Party, which fails as a sexual fantasy, as an interactive story and as a game. This makes Leisure Suit Larry look like Noel Coward.