Party Hard 2, brought to us by the same developer as the original title, Pinokl Games and published, also again by Tiny Build, brings back all the man-slaughtering fun of the original title. The game follows the same thread of the action stealth genre. If you played the original game then you already know the drill: sneak in and kill off the party goers.
There's not much to say as far as the story goes in this game. All we know is that this is not the same protagonist of the first game, who started killing people in parties because he couldn't sleep. In this case, we know only that the protagonist was denied his Christmas bonus and decided to take it out on the different parties that are happening in town. He'll visit bars and clubs and start killing. Although is not just random killing like in the first title. Strangely enough, the protagonist has a list of hits he'll do in every location, and they are drug dealers or sorters or bikers.
I guess we could say that this is a deranged man with a sharp knife and a vigilante sense of justice. Among other senses he´ll use to dispatch these people.
If you haven't played the original Party Hard, you can read our review here.
Once again, you'll pick the map you want to play (as of right now, July 25th, there are only 2 maps available) and start the killing. You will show up again on the street, outside of the location of the party, and you'll need to gain access to the place. Some times the bouncers will just let you walk right in and some other times they won't so you'll have to either kill them or sneak in some other way.
Following the example of the first game, you'll have a hud in the top left corner letting you how your mission is going, except that on the first game you had a counter of how many people were at the location and how many of them you had killed so far. In this occasion, however, you have a specific mission to carry on, adding a lot to the whole "stealth" experience of the game.
In Party Hard 2 you don't have to kill everyone if you don't want to. (but you are certainly free to do so, if it suits you better). You can just try to go for your goals, which, I'll tell you right now, won't be easy with so many people around.
You will have choices, however. I tried several different approaches since I couldn't beat any of the levels on the first try. Depending on your preference and the layout of the map, you could, for example, wait in a dark alley for your victims and kill them there. Or you could use the same approach for killing random people and reduce the number of witnesses. I found that this witness-thinning tactic worked for me on the first map but the second one has way too many people for it to work out properly. You will most likely have to evolve your tactics.
You could also sabotage the sound equipment for it to explode near your desired victim, or mess with the hookah on the table to also explode, or the jukebox, or the gas canister. There are plenty of things you can sabotage to explode and they will help you kill someone from a distance.
You could use classic stealth tactics and follow your victim around until he or she wanders into a dark or secluded location and kill them there. (there is a crossed-eyed logo that appears when no one is watching you) or just wait in the bathroom and hope your victim will show up eventually.
The game is not short in options of what you can do, and it doesn't try to force you to any one tactic.
Every person in the location is a potential witness. That means that if you are caught killing someone they will call the cops on you. Witnesses have an orange icon of an eye on top of them, for you to locate them. The witness will call the cops and the cops will try to find you, you'll know they're looking for you because you'll see an icon of handcuffs on top of you. You can try and escape from the cops by sneaking through windows or sewage manholes, but if I remember correctly the first Party Hard, these cops are more difficult to run from.
If you do manage to escape from the cops, the person that called them will remain as a witness, with the eye icon over them and everything. These witnesses will be able to recognise you afterwards even if you are not doing anything, so that adds more difficulty to the game.
You can also set something to explode and run away, and when the explosion takes place, the mob mentality will play its part and they'll start blaming each other, in which case the cops will arrest innocent people, leaving fewer witnesses for you.
I'm calling them senses, but we might as well call them abilities. One of these abilities is called "Party Vision" enabling the Party Vision will highlight useful objects, such as gas canisters or equipment you can set up to explode, or trash bins in which you can hide bodies. That particular ability is extremely useful and you'll need to take advantage of it in order to keep a low-profile for as long as possible.
The second ability is called "Insta-kill". With this ability you do area damage around you, instantly killing everyone in the highlighted area. This one is useful if you have multiple of your targets around you, which is a rare occurrence, or to get cops out of your tail.
Party Hard 2 will let you chose if you want to play with a controller or the keyboard. I tried both set ups and the game is playable in any one of those, provided you have played games using the keyboard before. The controls will be displayed (both for the controller and the keyboard) on the pause menu during the game. My Xbox controller was detected but my other USB controller of a generic brand wasn't detected right away, which is the norm playing games on PC, anyway.
If you intend to play with a Keyboard, the controllers are:
W,A,S,D for movement
Q for dancing/blending
E for using the weapon/item,
R for using the special kill move (area damage/instant kill)
F for picking up objects/bodies
Space Bar for interacting with objects
TAB for Party Vision
Graphics and audio
If you played the original Party Hard, the first thing you'll notice here will be the more stylised environments. They evolved from the 2D pixel to an engine capable of running 3D environments with real time shading. The characters were left in 2D, however. Although this new engine might cause you to "lose" your character from time to time between all the colors and movements, you can always use your dancing/blending button and a spotlight will appear on your character to find him. Furthermore, after a while, you get used to the movement and you won't lose the character as often.
The soundtrack blends nicely with the game itself, it goes with the atmosphere and graphics. You won't find any creepy killer music, but more of an upbeat/disco/techno mash-up that surprisingly doesn´t get boring at all. Something I really appreciated is that you can cycle through the available songs if you get to the DJ table and press the interaction button. I loved that detail.
I only played the original Party Hard once or twice at a friend's house, and it was always just to kill time. I remember that game being too easy and too repetitive. I was happy to confirm that the developer addressed that situation. This game brings you bigger maps with a lot more people in them. (I do mean A LOT), and that makes it more difficult. Having a "list" of people to kill, adds a whole new dimension to the game because you are not just randomly killing anymore.
This is, to me, a good stealth game. I based this on the fact that I can't use the same strategy twice, and I actually couldn't even stick to one single strategy during a play session. The fact that the maps are now huge and your targets are located all over the place and moving require you to sometimes be stealthy, sometimes be crafty and sometimes be on a rampage. And you will not always have the time to think things through, some decisions will have to be made in a split-second. I believe this game has elements that some top-of-the-line stealth games leave behind for the sake of graphics or story.