Do you have neighbours that you hate?
Neighbours that are loud and obnoxious? Neighbours that rev their engines at all hours, blast music, and are just generally inconsiderate? (I know I do.) Have you ever dreamt of pranking said neighbours to the point of torture? I’m sure it’s crossed your mind, but probably not to the same degree as Woody, the “protagonist” of Neighbours back From Hell. Neighbours back From Hell is an HD remaster of the original Neighbours From Hell and its sequel, Neighbours From Hell 2: On Vacation. Although, it feels more at home as a current indie title than a remaster of two 15-year-old games.
You control Woody, an average dude who just wants to relax and enjoy his afternoon. Unfortunately, his hellish neighbour, Rottweiler is rude, crude, and obnoxiously loud. And between him revving his air polluting, souped-up lawnmower, his mum dumping garbage on your lawn, his mum’s dog… well… “fertilizing” your flowers, Woody has had enough. So, how does he handle it? Why, he hires a camera crew to film him breaking into his neighbour’s house, of course!
The dog rules this house!
Once you’re in Rottweiler’s house, you’ll notice that he’s a creature of habit and follows a precise pattern during his day-to-day activities. Woody uses this to his advantage to set up booby traps to pull pranks on his neighbour. These are as simple and harmless as embarrassing him by setting a whoopee cushion under his seat or as devious as electrocuting him by switching the breaker on while he’s trying to fix a ceiling fan. Woody does seem to go a bit far sometimes.
The first two sets of levels are from the original game and all take place in Rottweiler’s home. There is a set number of pranks you can pull on the unsuspecting jerk. Once you pull off a certain number, you’re free to leave. You don’t need to pull all of them off, but if you decide to, you’re rewarded with a gold trophy for that level.
Pulling off pranks usually involves finding certain items to combine with other items that the neighbour is interacting with in different ways, such as putting shoe polish on his clean towels, putting superglue on his binoculars that he likes to use to spy on the neighbourhood, or even using a permanent marker to deface his framed painting of his dear ol’ mum.
If at any time, you’re in the same area as Rottweiler, he’ll grab you, beat the hell out of you, and send you flying to another room. If this happens 3 times, you lose and have to start the level over. Luckily, while transitioning from one area/room to another, you can quickly turn back and avoid him. In later levels, his mum (as well as his pet bird and her pet pup) provides an additional challenge.
60 Minute Makeover
The third and fourth set of stages are from the sequel and see Woody relentlessly following Rottweiler on holiday to exact his revenge even further. The gameplay doesn’t really change between the games. While it is a fairly unique style of gameplay, it can get a bit monotonous after a while, so I recommend playing in bursts as kind of a pallet cleanser between games you’re diving deep into.
The clay-style animated graphics bring back memories of Wallace & Grommit. They fit the theme very well. The sound design will remind you a bit of a late 80s/early 90s sitcom with the cheesy music and laugh-track that plays every time you set up a prank for the neighbour and, of course, during the result of said prank.
While I did enjoy my experience with Neighbors back From Hell, the gameplay did tend to get a bit stale after a while. The biggest pro this game has going for it, though, is the uniqueness of the gameplay. It’s what kept bringing me back and probably will continue to bring me back from time to time. It’s certainly more of a pick-up and play palate cleanser than a deep dive.
Review code provided
Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo
Release Date: 08/10/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Puzzle, Strategy
Developer: Farbworks, HandyGames
Publisher: THQ Nordic
Download link: US eShop / UK eShop