Ever since I’ve been in contact with tinyBuild, one game that really caught my attention coming to the Switch was Hello Neighbor.
Hello Neighbor has a unique art style that appeals to me. It seemed to be a lite horror game that might creep you out and pull off some jump scares, but wouldn’t scar anyone with gruesome images. It’s a first-person stealth game where you have to figure out puzzles and find keys to progress. My seven year old son, even if a bit leery, was intrigued by it and I thought it might be fun for us to play together.
As I started the main game, my character came across the “neighbor” locking away someone or something that sounded like a dying ostrich. He was then caught peeking in the window and captured by the neighbor. After that, you wake up across the street at your house assuming that you need to get back into the neighbors house. At this point I ended up becoming very frustrated, mostly due to the fact that I hadn’t gotten into my puzzle solving mindset and got caught over and over again. Once this happens, you do get to see some dreamlike interactive stages that give you a glimpse into the backstory of the neighbor, but then you are back where you started.
As you progress and find items, you do keep them in your inventory. Doors you’ve unlocked will stay unlocked after you get captured and return to the checkpoint, but the neighbor can get downright annoying rather than scary. I did later discover that you can make the neighbor less aggressive by setting him to “friendly mode,” which I’d imagine would be great for younger players, but there was no way I was going to play the game on easy mode the first time through. The puzzles can be a bit counter intuitive, but I was eventually able to stumble through as I interacted with everything that wasn’t bolted down in the environment.
The game consists of three acts and a finale, with a story that is nothing to write home about. It kind of gets a bit deeper (if not weirder) through short cut scenes that delve into the psyche of your character and the neighbor. Dramatic sound effects kick in and your vision narrows when the neighbor is nearby, doing a pretty good job of giving you a feeling of intensity as you hide in a closet looking through a crack. It can often feel and look a bit clunky as the neighbor chases you, though. The controls are a bit jerky too, especially as you might need to balance across a pipe or narrow object that requires more precision.
The art style in Hello Neighbor is what really caught my eye. The level design seems like some sort of Tim Burton and Dr. Seuss collaboration, unwinding as you figure out this virtual escape room of a game. In each act, the neighbor’s house gets bigger and more elaborate. In the third act, I found myself looking up at the twisted amusement park of a stage in amazement.
Closing on the House
I give Hello Neighbor a 7/10. The game looks great and is fairly entertaining as an escape room genre game, but some of the bugs and clunky gameplay can be distracting. I did get used to most of the negative things I’ve said about Hello Neighbor, and actually do find myself wanting to play more. As I went through the acts, I noticed a few doors that I ended up leaving locked that I need to go back and unlock. I definitely want to see what my son thinks of the game once we put it on friendly mode. He did play the regular game for a bit, but quickly got frustrated and put it down.
Having the game on my Nintendo Switch is always excellent as well, and it entertained me for the whole road trip across West Texas to Roswell New Mexico and back. To hear me talk about Hello Neighbor, be sure to keep an ear on the Nindies and Indies podcast as I’m sure I will be discussing the game with ScrapGear in the future.