Indie developer tinyBuild is the creator of SpeedRunners, Divide by Sheep, and other classic tiny games. So when I read the synopsis for their latest release, Party Hard, I was excited. You play as a serial killer in a 1980’s Moonbeam City-/Batman Forever-style setting who sneaks into parties and simply mass murders everyone. Although a simplistic game, I was instantly hooked by how much fun it was.
In an age of GTA and COD being the norm in mass murder, it was nice being able to actually control a monster. It actually took a little bit more planning and skill than I thought in order to be able to actually pull off these mass killings. The first level was a house party, and moving between rooms to isolate potential victims was a snap, but once I started getting into open clubs like the rooftop party below, I realized this was no casual game.
Partying Harder Than I Thought
Party Hard has the standard menu controls you’d expect from a 16-bit game, and for as simplistic as the style is, it definitely looks cool. I was able to tell what everything is without much effort, and you can’t help but appreciate the small touches, like a clown at the house party, Hulk Hogan on a boat, and shifty guy outside in the alley, all of whom can be trailed and killed.
This isn’t the type of game where you can just go in killing everyone. If you do, you’ll get caught by the police multiple times. People can’t witness the murders, so you have to stab victims out of sight or find creative ways to kill them with traps or by poisoning their drinks/food.
What I initially thought I could simply hack-and-slash my way through in a rush turned out to be a pretty brilliant game. I imagine the steps of having to stalk people and distract them (or simply wait until they pass out or distract themselves) is what it’s like being a real serial killer. I even found myself targeting people who were making out in alleys or stalking out women who were alone. For a brief moment, I actually felt the thrill of being a killer.
tinyBuild definitely delivered on their promise of providing a fun premise with minimal controls, sound and visuals. The music reminded me of early cell phone ringers, but wasn’t bad. I imagine people who love club music would appreciate it, but I’m not a big EDM fan (not a hater, just don’t love it like I do hip-hop and live instruments).
Every party was unique, from country bars to casinos, boats, and everywhere in between – this guy really got around. The voice-overs are the only problem I have with the game, as they were simply terrible. The backstory didn’t much matter anyway. A detective is recounting the scene, and you pretty much don’t care how it ends, because the journey is the most fun part. I always appreciated video games that were simply fun without the need for a deep story. It appeases the Nintendo fan in me.
Moving around with the keyboard, you’re only given a few button options. Pressing the CTRL key brings up an overlay to show you which objects can be triggered to create traps, accidents, etc. Convincing bulls to charge at a crowd or a speaker to blow up can create mass havoc without anyone realizing it wasn’t an accident. Trees fall through windows; ovens explode; these things happen.
If someone sees a dead body, they’ll call the cops, and if they saw you do it, they’ll snitch, so you’ll have to run. Unfortunately you only get so much sprint speed, so the cops can catch you easily. This annoyed me at first, but I realized it’s a bit more realistic than the 5-star rating in GTA. Eventually the cop gets tired of looking for you if you run around long enough, though you’ll need to use doors and traps to shake him since he can outrun you.
You have the option of hiding a dead body in some places (throwing them off the roof of the rooftop party was my personal favorite), but if you just leave them to be discovered, you’ll have a lot more time to kill everyone else. By the time bodies start popping up, nobody knows for sure who the real killer is, and if they finger you, simply change.
You can use the phone as well to call random people to trigger events. For example, if a pizza delivery guy shows up, everyone gathers to the food. I also called up zombies, another serial killer, and an accomplice.
A random item appears in most levels in the form of a suitcase that contains a power-up. Power-ups include a change of clothes in case you’re identified, a large machete to replace your knife, and smoke grenades to let you jump in the middle of a crowd and stab away without anyone being the wiser.
Overall Party Hard reminds me very much of partying – it was great for a few hours, but then I moved on a little bit wiser. The thrill of being a serial killer at the party was enough that I’ll definitely keep this game handy for a quick stress relief. That’s what tinyBuild is so good at building.
The replay value is high, and the thrill of stalking out a victim and stabbing them is one worth checking out. I haven’t partied like that in years…
Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work has appeared in Hardcore Droid, Fast Company, High Times, The Street, Lifehack, and Huffington Post.