Disclosure: To aid this review a copy of Party Hard Tycoon was provided free of charge by tinybuild
Party Hard Tycoon is quite an oddity. Whilst technically existing in the Party Hard universe it bears very little resemblance to the franchise’ namesake except an art-style and one or two mentions of recurring characters.
Party Hard and Party Hard 2 were brutal stealth murder sandboxes centered around murdering the obnoxious attendees of large loud parties. However, in Party Hard Tycoon instead of serving partygoers with a nice steaming slice of murder pie, you instead try to ensure the music is to their liking, arrange entertainers and adjust the light levels to avoid hurting their precious eyes.
Party Hard Tycoon, as the title would suggest, is a very traditional tycoon management sim with a strong focus on item placement. You are tasked with trying to throw the best and most profitable party ever and have to juggle fund management with choosing new equipment to buy from basic tables and chairs to entire fancy bars and blinding light shows.
Before starting the party you get to choose your location, the party’s theme, item layout and which unlocked staff you want on hand. After you committed to a setup you get to interact with the party real time; seeing guests flood in (or not in the case of my party involving a single speaker centred in a derelict room at the worst slum in town) and give your staff; your cleaners, waiters, bouncers and dancers, pointers on where to go whether a particularly dirty spot to clean, empty glasses to fill or scary guests to kick out.
That isn’t to say that your staff won’t work automatically, for they will go about their duties quite happily on their own, however sometimes it is very necessary to keep a very close eye on your staff due to what I like to call some “early-access erratic behaviour”. Whilst it would be nice to be able to kick back and watch your party unfold, there’s nothing more frustrating than taking your eye off the ball for a second only to look back and see that the party’s mood has tanked and you’re losing 10 guests by the millisecond. The source? Two people repeatedly throwing up into a vast puddle of puke in the middle of the dance floor while your cleaner desperately struggles to navigate a particularly sticky pot plant.
When it works well it’s a good tycoon game with a solid progression system and a very interesting pixel aesthetic, maybe a little on the basic side – with the only degree of customisation coming really from your item placement – but something perfectly worth the very low £3.99 price tag. Major issues, such as the aforementioned vomit fiasco, only really occur as a result of the game’s early access.
For fans of the tycoon genre, it’s a must have even in its current state. It provides a good few hours entertainment and with the promise of future updates, you will definitely find yourself coming back to Party Hard Tycoon time and time again. For people who may have been sitting on the fence about purchasing this title, or maybe were fans of the other Party Hard games but not of the management genre, it might be worth giving this one a miss for now and waiting until its full release and experiencing it at what will be its best and most feature rich state.