In Hello Neighbor you play a seemingly innocent child who is chasing his runaway ball down the street. It eventually comes to a halt outside a shady house where someone was clearly in a hurry, leaving a crashed car balancing on what is left of the garden fence. You pick up the ball but at the same time hear glass breaking and what looks to be a struggle going on inside. At this point any normal person would get the hell out of dodge but just like in the movie – The Burbs, starring Tom Hanks, you decide to investigate. Peering through the front window you see a man locking the basement door, hiding the key, before eventually noticing you spying on him. He turns towards you jumping through the window taking you down in the process. The camera then pans out from the house and Act One begins, the game is split across four acts in total with the fourth being the Grand Finale.
There’s something in the basement
The game is a weird cross of stealth, survival, action with a free-roaming adventure flavour which is all built on a 3D first-person viewpoint using the Unreal 4 engine. The game mechanic reminded me in many respects to Mirrors Edge, it attempts to give a feeling of parkour like exploration with action buttons mapped to the triggers. Graphically Hello Neighbor is a mixed bag affair, the overall feel is something like what Pixar would have presented as their concept reel for the original Toy Story. Characters have a stylised deformed cartoon charm which works well if a little terrifying and are pitted against low res background textures. Now that’s not to say the game isn’t pretty, in the handheld mode it looks and performs rather good but you can see the game is suited to the mobile world. Hello Neighbor was originally released in 2017 on selected formats, Steam and Xbox, but has now been ported over to Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and mobile devices.
You explore a number of locations across the different acts in an attempt to piece together what exactly has been going on. Often being tasked with finding a key to progress into a previously inaccessible area or solving simple puzzles with minimal clues. The controls can be a little frustrating at times and I even found my character moving off in a random direction leading me to my impending doom. The other side to Hello Neighbor is an intense game of hide and seek, whilst exploring you must always keep one eye open for the mysterious man who has been up to no good. If he catches sight of you the music intensifies and the screen darkens, you can easily escape from him by running away or hiding. Sometimes when hiding in a cupboard I still managed to get caught for no apparent reason.
My biggest gripe with Hello Neighbor is how much it costs, retailing at £30+ for the Switch version is just far too steep. I think that the experience, on the whole, is enjoyable, the game achieves what it sets out to do bar a few niggling gameplay issues. The difficulty level can feel insane at times so it is well worth trying the free mobile version that has been released before committing to a full-blown purchase. The free version gives you access to the first act free of charge with in-app purchases to unlock the remainder. I think that if the game was released at sub £10 many people would have a completely different perception of the game.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, Mobile
Release Date: 27/08/2018
No. of Players: 1
Category: Action, Puzzle, Adventure
Developer: Dynamic Pixels
Publisher: tinyBuild Games
Download link: eShop