‘Hello Neighbor’ Review – A Mysterious Mess
Hello Neighbor has gone through plenty of early builds through its development cycle. Many of these builds were playable and actually quite enjoyable. As a game that was Early Access for quite some time, I was able to play a lot of the earlier builds. When the opportunity came to play the full game, I jumped on it. After playing through the directionless puzzles and mysterious sequences, I was about ready to put this one up.
Hello Neighbor is billed as a stealth-horror, puzzle solving game. I can agree with the back two genres but I don’t really understand where the horror aspect comes in. The game’s premise is to find out what is going on in your neighbor’s basement. So, theoretically, this is just one big game of breaking and entering. If you are caught by the neighbor, your steps are reset and you start the level over again. The interesting thing about Hello Neighbor, is that the AI learns what you did the previous time and applies those steps to the current round. From what I noticed, this was all chalked up to him rerouting himself and dropping different traps in areas that you were in.
The puzzles in the game did take some thought to get through. Unfortunately, sometimes it took awhile to figure out what to do in these levels. For example, in the first area I probably spent a good half hour running around the neighbor’s house before having to resort to the community to get started with the puzzles. Turns out, you have to stack the boxes atop one another to reach the top floor of the house. This made sense because there were boxes all around his house and within the main character’s house as well. In the face of direction, a puzzle game should give you some preface on where to go, there was a time at the end of the game where I apparently missed a power-up that is integral for the final fight. This was hidden away in a previous level that was off the beaten path. This lack of direction lead to myself losing interest in the game before having to look for a guide.
On the plus side, Hello Neighbor has some of the most unique visuals I have seen in a smaller title like this one, especially one with the horror label slapped on it. When you think of something stealthy in the horror genre, you think of dark and mysterious. While this game still holds the mysterious aspect, it is very vibrant and colorful and full of abstract design choices. One of the biggest things that sticks out is the Neighbor himself. The Neighbor reminds me of Wario in a sense due to his yellow shirt and funny mustache. The main character doesn’t have a lot of special actions to compliment the experience. I did really like the inventory system, you are able to hold up to four items at a time, which comes in handy if the Neighbor catches you. Thankfully, you can throw things at the Neighbor to knock him off of his feet to make more time for you to go hide. Though no matter how many objects I hurled at him, he always seemed to find me.
Hello Neighbor still feels like it had some kinks to work out before launch. There were some technical faults that I noticed while playing. Sometimes the Neighbor would glitch through walls, now becoming able to grab me when I was originally out of reach. Also, the Neighbor’s character would sometimes vault over terrain that is otherwise impassable. Hello Neighbor had a ton of potential for an official release. I firmly believe that all of the hype surrounding the game inevitably damned it’s timing and release build. Hopefully some of these things get worked out with future patches and content gets added to the game with more intuitive puzzle design. It’s safe to say, I should’ve just been a good neighbor and stayed in my house.
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”
Review statement: This game was supplied by the developer for the sake of this review.