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Bad Neighbours: Party Hard review

We’ve all had bad neighbours.

Living in a student house back in the halcyon days of ’12, had awful neighbours. Parties wearing on long into the night. Beer cans all over my damn lawn (yes, I have been a pensioner in a twenty-something’s body for all this time) and shite drum n’ bass decimating the paper thin walls between our humble abodes on the regular.

Perhaps it would have been easier to pick up that kitchen knife, don a hockey mask, and kill them all. But (perhaps regretfully) I just complained to my local council. Hopefully they all got ASBOs. Party Hard went the knife route, and it is gloriously therapeutic.

The premise is simple. Sneak around a raging house party slitting throats, poisoning drinks, pushing trees through windows until every last one of those rowdy little troublemakers is body-bagged. Party Hard plays like a slightly more static Hotline Miami – instead of replaying levels again and again until you get the perfect rhythm down you’ll be going in with a certain plan and improvising as necessary. That’s not to say you won’t be failing a lot – because you most certainly will – but there’s a great deal more freedom in Party Hard than anything you could draw a parallel with.

Levels are neon-splashed pixel heaven brimming with environmental hazards and messy, opportunistic murders. You can plan out your murders to a vague extent but you aren’t going to succeed unless you improvise.  I started a fire in one room to send all the people making out in it into the next room and shoved a tree through the window, crushing them all. One of the merrymakers saw me do it and ran to call the police – straight into a bear trap. The game devolves into absolute absurd chaos more often than it plays out as a tense stealth game but that works to its credit. I loved one moment in particular where I stabbed a sleeping drunk and my failure to hide their body lead to a police cruiser arriving with such haste that it wiped out half the guests hanging out around the front of the house.

Murder on a boat? You’ve YACHT to be kidding me… yeah, I should be thrown overboard for that one.

Obviously the erraticism brings a whole host of problems with it too, and it’s not always hilarious. Sometimes after you’ve spent twenty minutes deftly picking off guests one by one only to get kicked to death by a horse you didn’t even know you could interact with Party Hard suddenly gets harder to love than Michael Barrymore after that unfortunate pool business. If you can find it within yourself to brush it off and get back to it you’ll find yourself playing levels with new awareness, and much like Hotline Miami, in tune with the slaughter on a plane that might have you a bit concerned for your own ability to plan mass murder. A knife here, an exploding oven there, a hungry shark or open fire just waiting for a hard shove.

Party Hard is great because it simply takes joy in what it is. Rather than bury itself in all the comfortable trappings of social commentary or artsy storytelling it gives you an 80’s drenched murder box and sets you free. There’s no sure route to success because everything is so random. You know that someone’s going to be in that bathroom alone at some point but you don’t know when someone else might walk in and find the body splayed in the tub. At that point you could be waist deep in gasoline and dancing in the flames (and yes, there is a button to dance).

Look at them. Having fun. The absolute bastards.

There are plenty of levels on offer and they all offer new, unique ways of maiming and massacring. It’s interesting to play Party Hard  knowing that TinyBuild are currently working on hotly anticipated Hello, Neighbor – a game that has you investigating your sinister neighbor’s house and avoiding his potentially fatal plans. The dev team must have had some seriously bad accommodation issues considering the content they’re putting out. All in all, this is a fantastically weird and macabre experience, and a glorious precursor to what TinyBuild could achieve with their next title.

THE TL;DR:

  • Tons of satisfying neighbour purging fun.
  • The same thing that makes it so playable is the same thing that makes you want to pick up your Xbox and lob it at the nearest small child.
  • A great creative showcase from talented developers with tons of potential. I can’t wait to see how Hello, Neighbor shapes up.

80%

Party Hard is developed by TinyBuild GAMES. We reviewed it on Xbox One!

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