Nearly two years have passed since Darius, a serial killer with serious dance skills, first donned a hockey mask and terrorized pixel party goers across the United States. For those of you who missed the first game, Darius is awakened during the early hours of the night by a loud party next door. Upset that his beauty sleep was interrupted, and most certainly off his meds, sets off with a large knife to bring new meaning to the phrase joy kill. Now everyone’s favorite boogie-down psychopath is back, and he’s looking dapper than ever in a revamped sequel. Party Hard II is currently in alpha development, with an improved game engine, new traps, intricate levels, and other improvements that are prime to take the novelty series to new heights.
Even in these early stages, there is potential for the sequel to far surpass the original game. Both games are stealth action games, that highlights the concept of hiding in plain site (similar to the Hitman games). Unlike it’s predecessor, PH2 has much more focus in it’s overall design, as well as refinements to its gameplay and presentation. Absent is the flat two dimensional landscape of the first game, it is now replaced with a smoother 2.5 dimensional top down view. Objects in the game world such as stairs, vehicles, tables look and feel as if they actually have depth and presence. In-game lighting also plays a role this time, not just to enhance aesthetics, but to provide some concealment for your dirty work. Ominous dark alleys and restrooms provide cover for quick assassinations.
Speed and movement play a much more important role in Party Hard II. Getting spotted slicing someone’s spinal cord open can present itself with more problems this time around. In both games, exposing your activities leads to comical Pac Man style police chases that last for a brief moment. Eluding the police is not a difficult affair provided you know the lay of the land. Eventually, overused escape routes are closed off making it more difficult to survive should you be careless in your murderous mayhem. Adding to this dilemma are the new “spotter” types. These NPC party goers will remember you, and unlike their amnesiac cousins of PH1, they will never forget you. Designated by a bold red eye icon over their heads, these new types will call police in an instant when you approach them. This makes remaining elusive much more difficult.
Remaining concealed is a much more valuable commodity in Party Hard II. Each level has specific goals, a departure from the singular “kill everyone” objective. These goals in these early stages is to take out specific criminals at these party scenes. Drug dealers, chemists, bikers, and other unsavory types hide in back alley labs or gang hideouts. Some may venture out into the more trafficked bars and club areas, meaning jogging behind them and ramming your knife in the back is sure to get you arrested or remembered. Cunning and planning is required to fish out your targets, assassinate them, and escape undetected. Fortunately, there’s a whole new array of traps, items, and an all new ultimate move at your disposal. Darius can now carry up to four items, so there is less traipsing around the same areas just to switch through items.
This series is infused with plenty of cynical black comedy as NPC characters are incessant in getting their groove on, despite the mutilated, burned, hacked, sliced, and dismembered corpses they may find lying around. They will often make comments like “I wish I could die partying!” or “Well I guess he just drank too much!” as they stumble past the recently deceased. While their attention span being as diminutive as Donald Trump’s orange digits, their amnesia isn’t as jarring as it was the first time around. Thanks in part to the “spotter” NPC types that may arise with careless play. Their addition to this game is an interesting deterrent and encourages players to be surgical and more exact in their actions. Bodyguards and other NPCs will also guard some of your prime targets, making it necessary to plan your routes to be successful.
These new gameplay features, as well as improved visual elements, elevates Party Hard II in the right direction. making it more akin to well known stealth genre games, while also retaining the more ostentatious appeals of its predecessor. Regardless if you want to slice everyone up and run away from police while listening to Yakety Sax, or if you want to sulk in the shadows for days until that perfect moment to strike arrives, Party Hard II brings both extremes of play and everything in between. There is no right way to play, with enough random elements that at times the improvisation required to survive becomes comedy gold.
According to publisher TinyBuild, there will be a flurry of Alpha updates over the next two months leading up to Party Hard II’s release. It will be curious to watch what other visual and gameplay improvements are awaiting players as the game shapes up for final release. PH2 is poised to not only satisfy fans of the original game, but even win over the psychopathic hearts of any stealth action or slasher-horror fans.