For the most part, Tycoon games do not interest me. Management sim mechanics are a good compliment to games like State of Decay and the recent XCOM installments, but it isn’t really my cup of tea when it is the main focus of a game. There has to be something special to make me want to play a game in this genre. Luckily, Tiny Build’s Party Hard Tycoon has an interesting premise and aesthetic that intrigues and encourages you to keep playing to see all the shenanigans that can unfold, despite many rough edges.
“When it’s time to Party…”
Party Hard Tycoon tasks you, a nameless protagonist with a high amount of starting capital, to throw the best parties in town and attract a following of socialites of various backgrounds. These range from the haughty aristocrats who will only attend the fanciest of gatherings, to people who enjoy getting drunk and fighting in a field out in the sticks, college kids looking for weeknight thrills, and a few others in between.
To make these parties happen you must plan the theme, location, and for the day of the week accordingly. For example: A Drum n’ Bass party might be best hosted at a suburban house with young people in the area on Wednesday, but it might not go over so well with a tough-guy or sophisticated crowd. After picking a theme you then place equipment like speakers, lights, kegs, and bars. The latter two generate revenue that you can use to throw more expensive shindigs. The key to this is placing revenue items near speakers and lights so your partygoers will be led to purchase more food & beverages. You can also enlist personnel that will help generate hype around a specific area so if the party is dying down, you can revive the vibes and GET HYPE! The more Hype you generate, the more fans you will receive at the end of the party. Fans will invite friends to their parties, and you will gain more money from the buzz.
You will start at a map screen that shows color-coordinated pips denoting the social group of potential new fans in the area. These pips indicate which demographic of people are near certain venues. You are only allowed access to two venues and themes at the start so it can get confusing as to how the player will appease these other groups. The tutorial takes the form of conversations sent to your phone with a few dialogue options. You are instructed on how to generate hype, revenue, and how to gain more fans by using the right theme for the right location.
Unfortunately, the game only gives you this information once. Then it is entirely dependent on you to have absorbed all this information as you plan more parties. As you can imagine, it was frustrating to try and remember everything in that initial info dump. A glossary or help index would’ve really improved my experience, it seems almost insane that there isn’t one.
In fact, there seems to be a LOT of information the game withholds from the player. Item descriptions are missing for many items in the décor section, Food/Beverage items are vague on costs for refilling stocks, and some prompts only appear sporadically. The version I played of this game was an Early Access edition though, so hopefully refinements have been made for the retail version.
“Okay, Nobody Parties but Me!”
As you gain revenue from charging cover and selling refreshments at your parties, you gain access to more lavish options to furnish new venues. Oddly the same equipment from the lower-tier venues costs more, but the hijinks that can unfold is even more fun to witness.
You can hire sumo wrestlers to encourage guests to buy food, kung fu masters to liven up the dance floor, and literally The Joker to steal money from guests to add to your revenue. The personnel all use these abilities on command and have a cooldown so it is wise to have them near speakers and lights for maximum effect. You also want to have security guards for certain parties because a couple themes can lead to fights breaking out. Waiters, especially “Vampire Waiters,” are a necessity for almost every party as you will need them to quickly refill the refreshments and keep guests from leaving. As stated before though these refill prompts sporadically appear and not being able to dictate which tables get served is super frustrating. The wacky cast of personnel is one of the main highlights of this game and I kept enjoyed figuring out who might be best suited to what kind of party I was trying to throw.
The difficulty ramps up in a big way when you have to cater to the highest class of people and you have not leveled up enough to get a variety personnel, themes, or venues to cater to these high society types. There are sometimes whole weeks where you can only throw these parties and if you haven’t focused on appealing to this demographic, it can be tough to turn a profit. But the game is still zany enough to entertain up until this cliff. I was constantly asking myself if this was a game I wanted to see through to completion, but couldn’t come up with a compelling reason to keep going past this point.
Will We Always Party Hard?
Party Hard Tycoon is a fun but flawed experience. I enjoyed the aesthetic of this game so much, but felt a huge disconnect with how many mechanics go under-explained and how little variety there really is under the hood. The music thumps and the cast of characters is fun, but I found myself getting really bored towards the halfway point when the difficulty outweighed my actual enjoyment of the whole package. It’s kind of like a party at college where you some friends invite you; there’s a good turnout, but the kegs are dry and everyone seems to be moving on to the house down the street full of booze.
Check Out the Party Hard Tycoon Launch Trailer:
Party Hard Tycoon is available for PC on Steam Early Access.