A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Party Hard is a downloadable stealth action game where players take on the role of a killer. The point is to murder everyone on a stage without getting caught and arrested by the police. Players will use methods such as poisoning food, rigging explosives, stabbing nearby characters, and pushing people into environmental hazards to dispose of bodies. Though the game is easy to learn, difficulty spikes and random gameplay elements can hinder a player's success, leading to additional frustration. Parents also should be aware that players can be subjected to random elements by other users through Twitch streams of their single-player games. (Twitch is an online video-game-streaming service.)
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What's it about?
PARTY HARD is a stealth action title with a macabre premise: Players take on the role of a nameless, faceless man who gets fed up with the constant partying that his neighbors are conducting, which is clearly disrupting his sleep and peace. But instead of calling the police or discussing the issues with his neighbors, this guy decides to take matters into his own hands and chooses to kill every person at the party. Over 12 levels that manage to cross the U.S.A., players are tasked with using a knife, along with encountering environmental hazards, to eliminate partygoers without being noticed or caught by the police. Players also can try to throw off pursuers by blending into the crowd or dancing along to the party music, attempting to fit in with the general vibe of the party. Additional characters with separate traits can be unlocked on multiple replays.
Is it any good?
This sneakily violent action title has moments of creativity, but its repetitive play and inconsistent difficulty make it more of a grisly flash in the pan. Party Hard isn't like your regular stealth action game, because instead of avoiding other characters or engaging only when absolutely necessary, you're trying to kill everyone else in the world. Although you can sneak around and pick off people one by one, you don't always have to be covert; you can use environmental hazards such as sports cars, exploding speakers, or poisoned punch bowls to wipe out large numbers of partiers. This can cause so much chaos that your targets will turn on each other, beating each other up or getting arrested while you kill other people. Further adding to the insanity is the option to allow Twitch users to toss in other wild cards, such as zombie invasions, aliens, or rival mad slashers who try to hunt you down.
Unfortunately, as you play these levels, you realize just how gimmicky and one-dimensional the environmental hazards are. They're supposed to be randomized, but it's possible to replay a level multiple times and get the same number of hazards (or lack thereof) in the same places, reducing the amount of replayability. Even worse, the difficulty is inconsistent from stage to stage. This isn't determined by the hazards but is a result of the level design itself. For example, the party-bus stage can be completed in under a minute, while other stages, like the rooftop or the beach, can take 15 minutes or more. Another flaw is that the decoy and stealth elements don't always work; dancing at a party inevitably seems to draw more attention to you, meaning you'll be caught faster. That isn't the biggest flaw in the game, though. Assuming you're not bothered by playing a serial killer, there's still a huge leap in logic between the "justified" killings in the first mission (that justification is questionable) and the cross-country killing spree of the later missions. The game just isn't creative enough to make you want to play through it more than once. Party Hard tries too hard to be clever, but its inconsistencies and difficulty issues pull the plug on this event's fun.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in media such as Party Hard. Is the violence necessary in a game like this? Do the pixelated graphics seem more grisly because of the methods used to eliminate people? Should there be more peaceful methods of resolving problems in this game?
Talk about antiheroes. Why are antiheroes popular? Do you feel as i f this game handles the story of the antihero well?
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