Review – Hello Neighbor
Hello Neighbor is a stealth horror puzzle game built around the concept of breaking into a psychopath’s home and discovering what secrets he is hiding in the basement. This may be an interesting concept, but unfortunately the game can’t live up to it.
The story is simple, split across 3 acts you start the game as a child playing on the street when you hear what I think is a child scream coming from your neighbor’s house and then see the neighbor locking up the basement. It’s here where you decide to find out what’s going on yourself and proceed to find a way into his basement, only to escape and eventually return for the finale. It tries too hard to go deeper by giving the Neighbor a boring and predictable tragic backstory through dream like sequences if you get caught too many times. And the game also has one of the worst endings for a game in recent memory.
The visuals are not impressive in the slightest. The character models and environments just don’t look very good. At all. There’s also lack of animations when climbing over objects, when using ladders, and when you get caught. It’s also worth pointing out every time you do get caught the game just appears frozen for a few seconds, rather than cutting to a loading screen.
Your main goal in Hello Neighbor is to sneak around the house to find items that will let you progress whilst also avoiding the big bad himself who is incredibly inconsistent. Sometimes he will lock onto you and chase you relentlessly and other times he just gives up and goes to do something else. His pathfinding can be hilariously bad as well, often taking what seems like the longer route around his house or jumping through windows when there’s an open door right next to it. The controls for the game are equally as bad. Often you will try and jump through a window and will just end up jumping against it. But the floaty movement and poor controls get worse later in the game where it becomes very much an awkward platformer.
Getting caught has no real penalty, you spawn back outside with the equipment you have and the progress you have made saved, which is a good thing since you will get caught a lot. The only penalty is the easily avoided traps he sets in areas you go to, such as a bear trap or a security camera. Eventually I decided to just give up on the entire stealth aspect of the game and just make a mad dash to where I need to go. For better or worse, most of the time it just worked.
If that wasn’t all bad enough, the worst aspect of Hello Neighbor are the puzzles. They aren’t fun to solve and some of them are downright ridiculous and make no sense. During act 3 in order to get the key card for the basement, which for some reason is stored in a freezer, I needed to find the generator, which for some reason, is locked in a cage attached to the outside of the house. To actually get access to the cage I needed to go into the bedroom (which in itself was a puzzle) and place items in very specific positions. Once done I go back to the freezer and wait for a block of ice to melt. The level design overall is just frustrating as you need to figure out where you need to go, what items you need to get and in which order; and much like the key card mentioned earlier, a lot of items are in illogical places.
Not to mention the glitches and bugs. Once during a good chunk of the way through act 3, several key items that are required to progress just randomly disappeared after being caught. After searching around for upwards of an hour trying to find out if there is another way, I gave up and reset my progress through the act. I’ve also witnessed my character get launched into the air randomly and the neighbour getting stuck on the environment for a few minutes (which I guess doubles as a good thing unless he is in the way). And there are other annoyances that makes the game more frustrating to play as well.
Unfortunately, Hello Neighbor feels like an early access game that just launched; it’s full of bugs, has horrible puzzle design, and just feels like a chore to play. It’s not pretty and it’s not fun.
Reviewed on Xbox One.
Also available on: PC and PS4
Copy of Hello Neighbor provided by publisher.