Hello Neighbor (PC) Review

By Athanasios 29.01.2018 1

Review for Hello Neighbor on PC

Stealth game Hello Neighbor has been in development for a long time, and through that period it managed to gather quite the passionate fan base, as well as hype the rest of the gaming community about something that's bound to be awesome. Early Alpha and pre-Alpha versions had players experience a title that had a unique magic about it, but also tons of problems attached to it all - but that's not really a problem when a product is incomplete. What's really a shame, however, is that not much has changed from those past sneak peeks into the world of this surreally cartoonish, horror experience.

A small kiddo is playing with a ball in sunny suburbia, when, suddenly, he sees the titular neighbour "taking care" of some business inside his house; business that screams of a monstrous maniac. Walking closer to the front window, the young protagonist watches this moustachioed fellow locking "something" in the basement - something that must be really terrible, by the look of things. The task from there on will be to get to the bottom of things (literally), with the only thing standing in your way being a microcosm where Alien Isolation meets Home Alone, as well as the lunatic that resides in it.

Hello Neighbor's premise is pretty interesting, and the atmosphere gives off some rather surreal vibes due to a visual style that feels like a very spooky Pixar film. Furthermore, everybody loves a good mystery, right? Unfortunately, while this could be the indie classic of 2017, everything is bolted into a very problematic piece of software that, apart from 'passion project,' every single pixel screams the word 'rushed.' Moreover, not only has Dynamic Pixels released this in a pretty bad state, but it has also downgraded it, with a game world that feels less open-ended than before, and an enemy AI that is not as fun to play against as in the Alpha stages.

Screenshot for Hello Neighbor on PC

The concept is very simple: approach the house of the neighbour, and go deeper into the labyrinth in order to find out what's going on, while also avoid getting caught - standard stealth tactics stuff. Well, that's actually the first part where this fails, as the whole sneaking-in mechanics are full of holes. For starters, the neighbour is a pretty unreliable foe. One can walk past him, smash a window, or fall into one of his traps, and not really alert him, and then have him run towards you at full speed just because he has seen one hair from your head, and from a pretty long distance - and all this while he flings tomatoes at your face with sniper-like accuracy.

Simply put, one of the most heavily advertised parts of Hello Neighbor, the enemy AI, is not cunning, but annoying. Instead of moving around like a human being that reacts to certain stimuli, he just aimlessly runs from room to room, sees you when he is not supposed to, reacts to your careful tiptoeing, while not giving a damn when you noisily jump on his roof… and not always. As mentioned before, he is an unreliable NPC. The biggest problem, however, is that the game doesn't "communicate" with you as well as it should - it simply doesn't help you "feel" it, and understand why "this" failed and why "that" worked.

Screenshot for Hello Neighbor on PC

Another issue with this is that it's not the sandbox it used to be - or should be. Expect one solution per problem for most occasions, and while there are actually more, those require doing some ultra-creative stunts in order to "break" the game. This leads us to the next big flaw: the awful controls. Apart from not being able to set these up, they are clunky beyond belief, and, since this is not a walking simulator-esque adventure, but an action title that requires lots of precision, just prepare to get agitated. Oh, and if that wasn't enough, get ready for some wacky, wacky, wacky puzzle-solving.

Yes, this is a pretty short experience, and the first Act is somewhat straightforward (find the key to the basement), but it all goes nuts after that, with the final parts of Act 2, as well as the entire third and Act 3, feeling as if they came straight from those ancient times of Sierra point-and-click adventures, as the solutions can be pretty weird, and not in the right way, like; for instance, in The Secret of Monkey Island, or Day of the Tentacle. Long story short, this is not a fun experience, and not due to the high level of challenge, but because the tools you are given to confront the neighbour are as broken as himself.

Screenshot for Hello Neighbor on PC

…but there's another section where Hello Neighbor is quite challenging, maybe even more so than the main game itself. What's that? Why, it surely the cryptic nature of the plot. Those expecting a straight answer to the question of "What's hiding behind the basement door?" will be very disappointed - but why is that a problem? As franchises like Dark Souls and Silent Hill have clearly shown, ambiguity can be a great force of immersion, but, sadly, this is more like ambiguous for the sake of being so. It's the perfect fuel for Game Theory-type YouTube videos, evident by its enormous success in that "demographic," but a better crafted story would be much more preferable.

Oh, there's plenty to like here. From the tons of symbolism hidden under every crack and crevice, to the art style itself, which feels as if the whole quest is a child's nightmare in videogame form, Hello Neighbor has, indeed, a pretty strong charm. The thing is, however, that the deeper (pun intended) you go into it, the more you feel that things just don't blend together as gracefully as they should. Gracefully, shmacefully, though. How good a story is lies in the eye of the beholder, right? Well, that's a pretty long discussion. Even if the available plot is a masterpiece in disguise, however, the gameplay will keep most people from ever realising whether that is true.

Screenshot for Hello Neighbor on PC

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

An interesting premise, a striking visual style, and a mysterious game world that's bound to keep the gaming community pondering on what's going on in here, Hello Neighbor had the potential to be an iconic classic. Instead, the final release is nothing more than an overpriced, clunky, and incomplete mess of an experience. It's a shame, really.

Developer

Dynamic Pixels

Publisher

tinybuild

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Del_Duio (guest) 05.02.2018#1

Premise sounds exactly like Hitchcock's "Rear Window", done like 60 years ago haha.

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
hinchjoie, juzzy, mikem52, Renan

There are 4 members online at the moment.