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Est. April 2016. III Version 2.0. III

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REVIEW
By JAY TEE
09/08/18

Hello Neighbor is a curious blend of stealth, puzzle, and horror all rolled into one, with an underlying sinister tone. As a concept, it’s certainly unique, but it feels a bit haphazard; a jack of all trades that doesn’t quite master any of them.

The basic pitch is brilliant though: break into your neighbour's (yes, we’re a British website) house and investigate a mystery, but every time you fail the A.I. learns from your behaviour and tries to adapt. By definition the whole thing is played through trial and error, as you experiment with new ways to outwit your evolving foe. But in practice, Hello Neighbor is a frustrating experience.

Your adversary is inconsistent, but not by intended design. Within the first half an hour, I watched him come outside, walk along his porch, interact with nothing, turn around, and head back indoors within seconds. He wasn’t reacting to the myriad distractions at my disposal. It meant nothing, and is one small example of how the game simply falls flat.

THE BASICS - First person stealth / horror game with light puzzle solving elements.

PLATFORMS - PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch, and Mobile

PLAYERS - Offline - 1, Online - 1

CO-OP? MULTIPLAYER? - None at launch, although a multiplayer update is on the cards.
 
DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT - None currently announced.

TARPS? - At the bottom of all our reviews, you’ll see a series of absurd looking images (with equally stupid, in joke laden names). These are the TARP badges, which represent our ‘Totally Accurate Rating Platform’. They allow us to identify specific things, recognise positive or negative aspects of a games design, and generally indulge our consistent silliness with some visual tomfoolery.

REVIEWS KEY:

The Look - Art style, graphics, and overall presentation.

The Feel - Mechanics, controls, and learning curve.

The Sound - Music, sound effects, and dialogue.

The Experience - Anecdotes and random thoughts.

The neighbour character design is cool, but his behaviour leaves a lot to be desired.

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5

FINAL SCORE:

DRAWN TO DEATH - The exaggerated aesthetic is an interesting choice, with some fascinating details on the neighbour himself. But there’s also a clear lack of detail in almost every aspect of the game. It’s not quite cel shaded, clearly not aiming for a hand drawn look, and nowhere near shooting for realism. It exists in an uncomfortable visual limbo that doesn’t really work.

TREACLE SMEAR - This is a very bare bones release, with simple textures and an overall lack of definition. The framerate on Switch seems largely stable, but there isn’t much here that should be taxing modern hardware. Awkward geometry and invisible walls crop up more often than I’d like.

PUPPET MASTER - Jerky animations and visual clipping are commonplace, particularly when ducking underneath furniture.

Hello Neighbor has the makings of a classic, but the gameplay doesn’t match up to the ideas. This still feels like an early access game that could do with more time in the oven.

*Nintendo Switch review code provided by tinyBuild*

DEEP END - You’re left to figure everything out on your own. This supports experimentation and trial and error, which fits the story, but that’ll quickly give way to thigh punching irritation. There were several moments where the neighbour detected me without any clear indication of what I’d done. Challenge is one thing. Fighting against inconsistent mechanics is quite another.

ARTHRITIC THUMBS - Interacting with objects is intuitive enough. To be fair, you can do something with almost every item you come across. But there seems to be a lot of separate button combinations for a game that could easily be streamlined to a ‘move, crouch, jump, interact’ set up.

STEP UP HARD - There’s basically no learning curve here. Failure is a constant, and that can be draining.

TENSION STRINGS - Music is used sparingly throughout, and only really kicks into gear when you’re in imminent danger of being seen or the neighbour is giving chase. It’s functional, but unremarkable. Which sums up the whole experience, really. It’s a shame, because there feels like a lot of missed opportunities here.

MIDDLE OF THE ROAD - There’s the expected selection of object or surface specific sounds, but nothing to write home about. There’s not a great deal here to comment upon! As I said above, they do the job, but everything is by the book. Directional sound kicks in when the neighbour is reacting to something, but it’s very difficult to pinpoint his distance and / or location.

MUTE CITY - Lot’s of grunts and muttering. The lack of proper voiceover is massively disappointing in a game like this.

LEARN BY FAILING - Even using the same object on different attempts failed to produce consistent results. I attempted to use a lawnmower to distract the neighbour on my very first run, and nothing happened. Then I tried again the second time, and it worked! This didn’t feel like learned behaviour. It felt like code that didn’t kick in properly.

STEP BY STEP - Accessing certain parts of each house had a nice sense of progression. You have to get X, to open Y, so you can get to Z. This felt organic, and these moments felt tense. But that tension gets eradicated when you realise that the second you get caught, you’ll just spawn outside immediately, and you can try again. The stakes don’t feel high enough.

LAWBREAKER - The animation where the neighbour jumps through and smashes a window in his own house is hilarious.

LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS ARTICLE!
LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW, TWEET US @JAYTEE_GA, OR E-MAIL: EDITOR@JTGA.CO.UK.

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Recommended:

Random:

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