Party Hard 2 puts the player in a role of the Party Hard killer, a resourceful mass murderer who can’t run for longer than a few seconds without needing a breather. The goal of most levels is to murder targets in all sorts of creative and varied ways. Unfortunately, most levels play out in the same ways despite the developer's attempts at maintaining a strong level of variety. They often blend together, resulting in a game that doesn't really progress much mechanically.
The story of the Party Hard killer is often used to contextualize committed murders. The killer’s psychologist, Dr. McBride, explains in a news show what has occurred, adding a degree of intrigue to the plot. Unfortunately, little comes out of the setup and the dialogue is very dry. As I progressed, I got less and less interested in reaching the finale. By the time I did, I felt unsatisfied by the game’s conclusion.
The game provides a unique thrill with its tightrope crime detection system. The player is often put in a situation where they have to gauge whether or not they’ll get spotted by a nearby partygoer. There’s a brief period of time before a witness calls the police, which allows the player to silence them before it’s too late. The game often requires calculated wagers on whether or not to kill others before they act. It’s a stealth focused setup that few games really offer.
Party Hard 2 provides the player with a variety of items, environmental traps, vehicles, as well as a trusty knife. Missions will often require specific targets to be eliminated as well as some bland side objectives to be achieved. Partygoers will often walk around randomly within groups, which makes singling out a target difficult without getting shut down by the law. The game offers a somewhat open experience that often feels very punishing. Some levels even have enemies that kill you in a single hit if they happen to spot you for a few seconds.
Getting caught in the act of murder often means game over as the police rush in to catch you. Once a witness calls the police, the cops come almost immediately. Avoiding them is difficult as they cuff you the instant they make contact with you, and they often know exactly where you are. The only consistent way I was able to get them off my back was to set up traps to take them down. This often required good timing, which was hard since the timing varies depending on each trap. The other way I avoided the cops was to stay in a location that the AI couldn’t reach due to programming issues and they would eventually give up.
The two bosses hardly fit as end of level fights. They add little to the game besides variation in gameplay. Where bosses in other games act as a test of what you’ve learned or practiced so far, Party Hard 2 just treats them in a way you’d expect in some generic action game. There isn’t any real tension or planning to them, which creates a poor gameplay progression when they appear.
Party Hard 2 is a bit glitchy. The first half of every cutscene was pure black. At first, I thought it was a stylistic choice, but after a while it became clear that it was some sort of technical error. Sometimes, I would get caught red-handed and the police would never arrive, allowing me to kill without fear. Other times, I would be able to run over anybody I wanted with the slow-moving, clunky forklift in a very consistent fashion.
Visually, Party Hard 2 is both tacky and underwhelming. Unfortunately, the aesthetics as a whole really left me uninterested due to the lack of stylistic flair. Games like Hotline Miami, Yume Nikki and Undertale have shown that indie games can excel with a less is more approach to the visual design. The presentation of Party Hard 2, though, had very little that genuinely impressed me.
There are some great tracks that work serviceably as background music, but they often lack a real sense of presence. Admittedly, that does fit as it’s usually the music playing at the parties. Oftentimes, the songs would just blend together and after a while, I just wanted to turn the music off. Regardless, my biggest issue with the audio is the voice acting. It’s notably amateurish in a way that makes the story hard to get into.
Party Hard 2 is a serviceable, yet mostly bland game with little going for it besides some of its music and the tense gameplay. Planning out killings without getting caught was the true highlight for me. The story lacks writing prowess and it’s further held back by the low budget production values. Overall, Party Hard 2 is a game I’d only recommend to those interested in some virtual mass murdering.