Note: apparently, there are 2 versions of Hard Time - one a 2D version on mobile, the other, a 3D game on PC. This review refers to the original version, released on PC.
Few games truly describe what a ‘Guilty Pleasure’ is to me than MDickie’s ‘Hard Time’. I don’t know what can really be said about the game that can’t be seen while watching someone play it, but fuck it, I’ll give it a go anyways. Hard Time is a game that WANTS to be a prison simulator, that WANTS to be taken seriously, but it’s not. It’s a game where you can make a low-poly version of Duke Nukem (without the catchphrases) that immediately attempts to murder everyone in his ward, using his fists and what very little knowledge he has. In short, the game sucks for reasons I’ll get into, but I’d be damned if I didn’t say just how much stupid, stupid fun I had with this one. I almost did another cheap and shitty game from my Steam library whose main purpose is to work as a dispenser for trading cards, but I couldn’t help playing this for more than a second.
My first experience with ‘Hard Time’ was creating my character. I immediately tried to make Hank Hill, naming him ‘Pro-Pain’, and giving him a ponytail by mistake. I then quit after less of a second of playing. This was because of technical issues related to the windowed mode and my 2 monitors – which I will spare you the details of. Either way, I created a new character… the same exact one. I began my crusade through the prison with the warden. The silly dipshit was just standing there giving me orders with a machine gun in his hand. It’s a good thing for the warden that guns do fuck all in Hard Time, you can unload clips upon clips of ammunition into your victims and they will still stand up anyways. After years of unloading countless metal shells into his chest, the warden was down. Then I wandered into my cell block.
‘The warden’s dead’, the speaker said, ‘but we don’t know who did it’, it finished, despite the fact that bullets leave a clear marking and I was still carrying the only gun responsible for inflicting such harm. And then a strange man walked up to me. He said, ‘I know you killed the warden, he was a good friend of mine’. I then proceeded to unload my infinite supply of slow pain into him until somebody knocked the gun out of my hand. After numerous bursts of uncontrollable rage, Pro Pain was a growing name in all wings of the Prison block… and yet no one talked about me. No chats about how he removed 2 legs off a guy, kicked him the head 50 times, then finally finished him off 4 days later… silence.
And then I gave up. Hard Time is interesting for some time, and it does make for some genuinely silly videos or discussions, but I’d be lying if I told you that this game was good. For a serious prison simulator, it makes no sense that there are swords everywhere, or that the wardens can decide to kill each other for no reason. Its controls are stiff as all hell, it’s mechanics are broken at moments, and the camera is terrible and often times clips into objects it should stay away from. All of this is to say before I mention just how ugly it looks, who blocky and gray environments are, how character models are just so poorly done and look so janky. This was all done by one man, which is understandable, but understandable doesn’t always mean exceptional.
Hard Time, is, after a while, a hard time to enjoy. It really isn’t good, but that said, it’s also damned well fun at the same time. It’s a real mixed bag, but it’s one worth checking out if you have the time to.