I like to think I’m a positive person. Being negative doesn’t come naturally to me, and that’s why reviewing a game like Hello Neighbor is tough. When playing a game that is as tedious as Hello Neighbor, it would be easy to open the floodgates of insults and revel in the schadenfreude of it all. But it’s just not how I’m built, and I can see the good in almost anything. But with Dynamic Pixels’ latest stealth horror game, it saddens me to say I had to look very, very hard to find something good.
The first thing that hits you is the visuals. At best, this looks like an early PS3 game. But don’t judge a book by its cover and all that. So what about the story? And what about the gameplay? Well story wise Hello Neighbor has a lot going for it. You’re a young boy chasing after your ball in the street and suddenly you catch something sinister going on through your Neighbor’s window. He appears to be locking a screaming woman in his basement, and it’s your job to sneak in and find out what’s going on. Why he doesn’t simply call the police instead of putting his life at risk I’m not sure. As premises go it’s a really cool one though, and it definitely got me excited. Onto the gameplay…
The game doesn’t hold your hand. In fact it pushes your hand away and tells you to go f!?k yourself. Apart from an incredibly vague picture in the pause menu, you are given no directions on how to do anything. Essentially you have to solve one big puzzle by completing lots of little ones. If a door’s locked with a padlock, you need to find the key to open it. Sounds straightforward enough. The problem is the game’s controls are so bad that even completing the simplest of tasks becomes incredibly frustrating. You’re allowed to have 4 items in your inventory, and these are used to progress. So if you need to get higher up, you can stack boxes on top of each other to climb on. But for some reason, simply picking an item up is really difficult. Lining up the crosshair is painful (particularly with smaller objects) and when picking up an item I would have to hit the button about five times for it to register. It gets really old really quickly. The puzzles are so ridiculously over the top too that it would be near on impossible to figure these out without a guide. Take the 2nd Act. The Neighbor has boarded up all the surrounding fences of his garden and you need to get out to safety. One of the things you need to do to make this happen is to drain a shark tank in his loft. How on Earth would you connect those two?
Then there’s the Neighbor himself, who looks like a crap Tom Selleck. As this is a stealth horror game, if he sees you you’ll hear scary music and it’s game over. The problem is he sees you so much that by around the tenth time it’s not scary at all, it’s just really annoying. There’s also no real consequences to him catching you. Anything you’ve done prior to him catching you is saved, so if you unlocked a door beforehand, that will stay unlocked for your next runthrough. He becomes the equivalent of an annoying fly that won’t leave your kitchen, as opposed to a terrifying nemesis. That being said, the game has a cool idea that he adapts to how you play, so if you go a specific route all the time, he’ll set traps there and so on. It’s a cool idea, but sometimes you have to go a certain way in order to progress and this just adds to the frustration.
On top of all that, the game is riddled with bugs. Quite often the Neighbor would see me, but get stuck jumping against a wall while I watched on confused. Another time, he cornered me and I couldn’t get out. But instead of grabbing me, he just stood there. I couldn’t get past him and he wouldn’t move. I had to quit out of the game and start again. Sadly I had to do this on multiple occasions. Sometimes objects I needed to progress would literally float through the wall into a room I couldn’t access.
Quit out, start again.
Now I could look past these bugs if it wasn’t for the game’s price. The game is over £35 on the store right now and for that price these bugs and glitches are just unacceptable. Hello Neighbor is clearly a success financially, and if they have money to put Hello Neighbor toys in shops then they have enough money to patch basic glitches. It’s annoying because I really wanted to enjoy Hello Neighbor, and there’s clearly a good experience hidden deep in here, but if feels like a game that asks so much of you and gives you so little in return.
Despite our love for publishers TinyBuild we just can’t recommend this one. Hello Neighbor feels unfinished and overpriced every step of the way.
Punk rating: 4/10