First things first, Party Hard 2 on the Switch is a graphical mess. It doesn’t look bad, the pixel graphics are perfectly fine in other games, it’s just when you’ve thrown everything on the screen at once (and a small screen if you’re playing it in handheld mode) then it becomes way too much.
It’s disappointing because the whole idea behind it is great, if a little disconcerting if violence in games isn’t your thing. As a mask wearing maniac you’re tasked in each level to infiltrate a party, complete the goals you’re given (involving a lot of murder) before heading to the extraction point. It’s a top down puzzle game where the screen is littered with things you can interact with. Car parked outside? Just press the button to drive it into a bunch of pedestrians. Or if you find yourself in the kitchen, why not sabotage one of the hobs making it explode into a fiery blaze? The options in order for you to complete your objectives are great, and when you pull them off the feeling is awesome, with multiple objects littered around the map that can be grabbed and sometimes combined to create even more ways to commit mass murder. But it doesn’t always go according to plan.
Get caught and someone may call the police, then it’s just a matter of time before they show up and arrest you. Sometimes, and this is one of the games biggest crimes, it’s not always evident what triggered the police to come and arrest you. You may think they found a body you didn’t dispose of correctly, but then nobody was around to spot you, so what gives? It’s a level of frustration that sadly became the norm for my time with Party Hard 2.
As I previously mentioned, graphically it’s very messy. Certain areas of the game are so dark it’s impossible to spot a path you could take, there are so many characters on screen that right from the start it’s overwhelming and difficult to focus on the objective, there’s no such thing as easing you into the game mechanics here. Maybe it just thinks you’ve played the original, but tutorials are seriously lacking, apart from a few posters you can view while walking around the levels. That’s not the main issue though, it’s the randomness.
The last game I reviewed (Peaky Blinders) was also a puzzle game, however it went about its puzzles in a quite mechanical and straight forward fashion. Often there was only one way through the level, albeit with a few tweaks here and there, Party Hard 2 is the complete antithesis of that. Everything feels completely random. One attempt you could easily take out two or three of your targets because they congregated in the same area, the next time you attempt it they never leave the main dancefloor. On paper this sounds great, not making it about trial and error but about adapting to each situation. In reality what this does is make it increasingly irritating when your targets never go anywhere where you can either kill them with an environmental hazard or just straight up knife them in the back. Many times I just gave up, knifed them, then tried to contain the situation before the cops show up. Then there’s what I assume are supposed to be the comedy moments.
During one level I was about to head down an alleyway before I saw a giant circle appear on the screen and a man appear from within. It wasn’t till he came up on me and attacked (complete with “terminated” dialogue) that I realised the joke. Something that would be amusing in theory, but isn’t when you’re rushing to grab someone before they disappear into a crowd again.
There’s a decent amount of content here, complete with multiple objectives that require second playthroughs (sometimes on a harder difficulty), whether you would want to keep playing it though is debatable. If I was to end this review on a more positive note, I could talk about the music. Some excellent dance music plays throughout, which fades and gets louder as you move towards and away from the main dance area, it’s definitely recommended to play this game with headphones. Shame that sort of quality isn’t found in the gameplay.
Party Hard 2 is a game that really suffers, both on the chosen platform of the Switch, and from design decisions that frustrate more than anything. With so much good content on the Nintendo eShop of late, there really is nothing here that would make me recommend it.