Party Hard 2 Xbox One Review

October 3, 2020 by  
Filed under Xbox One, Reviews & Features, Xbox

Publisher: TinyBuild Games  Developer: Pinokl Games  Genre: Action, Stealth

Players: 1-2  Age Rating: 16+  Other console/handheld formats: PS4, Switch

After having a read back of my previous review for Party Hard for a recap, I feel I was a little harsh. It was a game I thoroughly enjoyed playing, and is one of the rare titles I actually go back to play from time to time. I even find myself humming some of the tunes to this day, I found them that catchy. Needless to say, it’s a game that has stuck with me, for its simple enjoyment, retro feel, flowing gameplay and, of course, the mass murdering aspect. 

As well as Darius, there are other characters to unlock, including an easier Darius who doesn’t have the stamina of a smoker!

Party Hard 2, however, I am finding difficult to absorb myself in. Things have been shaken up this time around, and it’s no longer about travelling from party hub to party hub and killing everyone because they are disturbing your sleep. This time there is a pharmaceutical conspiracy, and pro/antagonist Darius – the multiple personality killer of the previous game – has become somewhat of a vigilante killer. Levels are now larger, and each one has you completing a to-do list of tasks, some being optional, and there are even a couple of bosses for you to face. Not all levels have you killing people either – one curveball level has you simply travelling via several train lines to find one of your targets. But has all this shaking up of the gameplay improved it overall? 

Sadly not, and I found myself missing the simplicity of the original game. Gameplay in Party Hard 2 feels somewhat slowed, bogged down by a plodding story, complete with cringy emo voice acting, bosses that seem redundant if you aren’t paying attention to the story, which you probably won’t be, and levels that are mostly frustrating. 

Entering a level, you can either kill everyone, or complete the aforementioned tasks. Completing the tasks will finish the level quicker, but I decided to keep to the original style of gameplay and maim everyone by any which way necessary. Easier said than done. This time around there are more obstacles for you to overcome, including the usual guards and new enemy goons who will home in on you and one-hit kill you if they see you, frustrating to say the least, especially when, in one particularly challenging level, there is as many as nine of these enemies for you to evade or kill. 

Police are back, alerted to the suspicious goings-on should a party goer notice a dead body or see you performing an act of violence and calls them in. This time police always arrive in parties of two, and, somehow, no matter where you hide, they always seem to know where you are, so staying out of their line of sight is near impossible – unless you have a stun gun and a well-timed electric sting, you’re very likely to be arrested. One tactic I tried to evade them was to keep going back and forth through the shortcuts, but sometimes (and somewhat cleverly I might add) the officers would split in two and wait at either end for you, so it wasn’t a tactic that always worked for me. 

Darius can use his instinct to highlight areas that can be interacted with, and highlight specific targets.

Strategy is one that can’t really be implemented in Party Hard 2; that was the case with the original game, but here it feels even less so. Levels have some randomized elements, and patience and luck play a huge part (both of which I don’t really have). Each level is littered with furniture and weapons that can be used to your advantage, but unless you have certain items spawning together (allowing you to combine and craft weapons this time around) some can become completely useless. Time and again I found myself with lots of gasoline just waiting to be spilled over groups of people to set them alight, or used to explode large groups of dancers, but no way to ignite a flame (the lighter is a rarity, even though for some reason you can craft and use a molotov without the use of a lighter). 

Then you look to what furniture has spawned – exploding music speakers is a go-to tactic, or blowing up gumball machines, cookers or hookahs. One of my favourite means of execution was to trail a water spillage towards a group of party goers and set off machinery that could cause mass electrocution, such as a power generator, water tank or vending machine (though be careful not to electrocute yourself!). More ways have been added this time around to kill people, but if you choose to kill everyone, there just never seems to be enough ways, and I always seemed to end up having to resort to more stealthy measures and the trusty default weapon, the knife. 

Murdering people now takes place in 2.5D environments, although the characters remain basic pixelated 2D. One issue with the first game is that it was easy to lose Darius among the vast amounts of people and colour, but thankfully that isn’t as much of an issue this time as the camera is zoomed in slightly closer to the action, making characters bigger, although the dark colour palette can still make it difficult to see. Using the right analogue stick allows you to move the camera around to enable you to see areas off-camera. 

All this party hopping and murder mayhem is set to an upbeat soundtrack, but sadly the tunes aren’t quite as memorable. The music grows on you, but that is probably because they repeat so often – unlike the first game where each level had its own music, tunes are repeated here from level to level, so much so that I found myself becoming rather tired of hearing them. You have the option of changing tunes at the DJ booth, or you can turn the volume of the music all the way down, making it seem like attendees are at a silent disco, but doing this will lose the overall party ambience. 

Darius can look at many posters, and even phone numbers on them and invite a surprise guest.

Party Hard 2 also enables for repeat playthroughs, and I actually found myself enjoying the second playthroughs a lot more, without the restriction of trying to follow the banal story. With the optional tasks, and even some secret ones to find, this is one area that Party Hard 2 improves over the original, in its replayability. I found myself exploring levels more and familiarising myself with them on the second playthrough, and just chilling out, experimenting with ways to murder people, and watching the goings-on between people in the background, which mostly consists of punch ups and drug dealings. Kitsch humour was ever present in the original game, and here it seems to have been toned down, but from time to time you will see something unusual and amusing, such as a man on a flying carpet, or, in one level, a UFO that you can be beamed up to and murder all the aliens on board. 

There’s also a co-op mode for those struggling to complete levels, as I did many a time. Here you and a friend select a killer and work together to kill off the hordes of people, or can simply complete the tasks. Gameplay is pretty much the same as single player, albeit with a timer that will count down to a loss if you take too long to murder people, with you needing to murder a certain amount of people within that timeframe to avoid losing. 

For those that enjoyed the original game, it is pretty much more of the same here, albeit with some changes in an attempt to make things feel fresh. However, the changes don’t add much to the game at all and feel mostly unnecessary – second time around it feels like Party Hard 2 is trying a bit too hard.