Hello Neighbor appears at first glance to be a cute twist on the stealth gaming formula, but it becomes more disturbing as it initially appears once you start peeling back the layers. Something of a twist on the Hitchcock thriller, it casts you in the role of a child who has suspicions about his dangerous-looking neighbor. Over the course of three acts, you need to find your way into the basement of your neighbor to figure out what he's really up to and hopefully expose him.
Developer Tiny Build Games has done a good job making use of effective horror tactics ranging from off-putting sound design to traditional jump scares, but the scariest element at work here is the artificial intelligence powering the neighbor. Rather than rely on traditional patterns that need to be memorized, the algorithms behind the neighbor are explicitly designed to keep you on your toes and mix up the formula without undermining what you know about the antagonist's logic.
Holding together the tense stealth gameplay is a series of increasingly complex puzzles. The core experience is largely the same out, but a series of different environmental challenges need to be overcome to unlock the basement and get to the end of the game. While these can sometimes be obtuse, they add a cerebral layer to an otherwise tension-driven game. All told, it's a very creepy horror game that's held back somewhat by a lack of clear communication between the UI and the players themselves. You can get a solid 20 hours out of Hello Neighbor from start to finish.
- Menacing and atmospheric sense of dread
- Creative twist on traditional horror formula
- AI makes the antagonist always hard to predict
- Puzzles can be obtuse
- Some issues with physics engine
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