Hello Neighbor Review
Hello Neighbor is a new stealth horror game that puts you into the shoes of a thrill-seeking young man, trying to sneak about the house of his mysterious eccentric neighbor, determined to find out what the Neighbor is hiding in his basement after hearing screams of a woman or child coming from inside.
Hello Neighbor uses an advanced AI for the Neighbor to create a pretty compelling gameplay experience, something akin to the ‘AI Director’ of Left 4 Dead. It learns from your every move, analyzing your movement, usual paths, and formulating counter attacks such as; traps, barricading doors, closing off windows, security cameras, etc. The house is weird, and huge. Contraptions can be seen throughout the house. A lot of the things will not make sense and has no logic in it, a DIY train system built into the house, a room full of just balls, a massive windmill at the top, horizontal doors, empty rooms, amongst other creepy stuff that make the Neighbor and his house truly mysterious.
I have never been a fan of horror games, in fact I don’t play them that much. I definitely hate jumpscares, and your typical demonic, evil, scary premises in games. They’re a cheap way to deliver a feeling of terror and tension to the player, but this is one of the very few exceptions, as I definitely love playing it! it doesn’t have any jump scares at all and the premise is actually kind of cute, despite being advertised as a horror game. Hello Neighbor is truly unscripted, and relies on the advanced AI and the Hello Neighbor’s unique idea to create this feeling of tension; The build up of finding out what’s in your Neighbor’s basement as you play longer and longer and the frustration you get from getting caught over and over again, only to find out that your favorite spots to enter the house are now blocked off, your favorite paths now littered with traps and security cameras.
Hello Neighbor is more of a psychological horror and a stealth game than a true scary horror game. Still, I freaked out more times than I could count; thanks to all the surprise encounters with the Neighbor while wandering around the house. The physics engine is the big part of the experience but is still a bit buggy, as things can suddenly fly violently all over the place, you have to be very careful when moving around the house as knocking over any furniture or item can alert the Neighbor of your presence, if something is blocking your way, it’s better to just pick it up and move it to the side, instead of jumping over or moving around it. You also have to solve a lot of different (some weird) puzzles to go around the house. That includes finding keys, codes, switches, items, or throwing/putting items in specific places, in order to open a new area of the house, similar to room escape games, only this time you’re breaking in. Culminating in unlocking the basement door and seeing what’s inside.
While Hello Neighbor is indeed a fun experience, it has way too many complex puzzles that are almost impossible to solve. And It will definitely leave a lot of players scratching their head, stuck on what to do next. Add that to the ever-present danger of the Neighbor lurking around and it’ll most likely often lead to frustration, resorting into walkthroughs in order to progress further in the game. In some cases, after finally finding out how to solve puzzles through the use of guides, you’ll find yourself saying “how the heck am I supposed to figure this out by myself?”. There is often not enough information given to the player on how to advance the game, one of the issues is that it’s hard to find out what items can be interacted with, and what they can interact with, especially that the puzzles most of the time are lacking proper logic; as opposed to a door-key solution, it sometimes requires out of this world thinking and a lot of trial and error to solve, even if you remove the dangers of the Neighbor entirely and focus on solely on the task at hand.
I find the earlier versions of the game more fun to play, gameplay mechanics aside, as the house was a lot less complex back then and doesn’t have any of the issues I mentioned about the puzzles. In the current version, I feel that the developers just went ahead and slapped in a bunch of uninspired puzzle and level design ideas just to make the game take much longer to finish. While it adds to the mysteriousness of the game, it doesn’t help that much in terms of gameplay.
Seeing a gameplay video of Hello Neighbor for the first time reminded me of the movie I’ve just recently watched; Don’t Breathe, except that it has a blind villain, and the trespassers are burglars instead of just a random curious neighbor. It produces the same feeling that you get from watching the movie. I’m very positive that fans of horror thriller movies will definitely like Hello Neighbor.
The visuals and art style translates well into mysterious and somewhat creepy gameplay it offers. The sound design is also a big factor in providing the different levels of tension felt throughout the game, as the soundtrack changes depending on the mood of the game. whether the neighbor is alerted, chasing you, or even if it’s just nearby. It’s got that Slender vibes going on with that soundtrack as well as the visuals.
Despite being single player, I would say playing with friends beside you, or watching a friend play, is a more fun experience than playing alone. As the reactions and commentary you and your friends can make, are priceless. It then becomes a coop game unintentionally, as you and your friends try to solve the puzzles and wander about the house, your friend freaking out as you try and out maneuver the Neighbor and avoid getting caught.
Disclaimer: PC Aficionado was provided with a code for the purpose of this review. All thought and opinions expressed in the review are the writers own and are not influenced by the developer and/or publisher in anyway.
- Unique stealth horror experience
- Manages to be scary without any blood or jump scares
- Interesting lore
- Puzzles are uninspired and too difficult
- Buggy physics engine
- Clunky controls