While I was in Seattle in September, I had the pleasure of sitting down with tinyBuild producer Karrie Shirou and play a few games. These games each deserve their own articles, so look forward to my take on the recently announced horror title Pathogen 2, and the insanely fun Graveyard Keeper, both of which will be published soon. For now, I want to focus on a game many people have been playing since the early alpha and following on Twitch for months- the edge of your seat thriller game Hello, Neighbor.
Let’s be honest, we have all had a shady neighbor at some point. Maybe they sit on their porch and watch you too keenly while you get the newspaper in your robe. Or have 30 cats and smell funny. Perhaps they hand out floss on Halloween. But have you had the misfortune of a neighbor’s house you can hear screams from? See him locking suspicious doors and having an unusual amount of furniture stacked in odd places? Well, in Hello, Neighbor that is exactly who you live next door to.
Developed by Russian based independent company Dynamic Pixels, and published by tinyBuild, Hello, Neighbor is a scary good time. Welcome to the neighborhood.
I had been following the videos and gameplay for a long time before I sat down at tinyBuild’s booth at PAX West, so I knew what to expect as far as gameplay and the basic goal that I was supposed to try to reach. What I did NOT expect however is just how unnervingly scary Hello, Neighbor is! Generally, horror and thriller titles rely on atmosphere to get under your skin and give you an impending sense of doom. This takes that idea and chucks it out of the window, leaving you with a world that is playfully fun in appearance, and characters that are cartoony rather than dark and menacing. Perhaps the environment and art design is what makes it scary after all, because once you begin playing and realize how difficult it is to sneak around a house with no set layout and a devilishly cunning enemy to avoid, you are immediately on edge.
The concept of the game is that your new neighbor is harboring some dark secret, and for some reason a la horror movie trope, your character is dead set on sneaking in and finding out what it is. The catch is that you neighbor’s home is far from ordinary. This guy must have hired an independent contractor and said, “you know what? I never want anyone to be able to find the guest bathroom, ever,” and the contractor just shrugged and said okay. I commented to Karrie that it was like the famous Winchester Mansion, with doors leading nowhere, oddly shaped rooms, and the way that the house is never the same when you restart the game. (I was shocked to learn I was the only one to make the connection!) As you sneak your way around this weirdo’s house, you have to be careful because he is incredibly aware of where everything in his home is. You move a flashlight? He will notice and begin looking for you. Leave a window open? Better hide. What really makes it scary is there is no set pattern for the neighbor, and he will go wherever he pleases and anywhere he sees or hears something off. I myself had a few instances in which I thought I was far away from him, making as little noise as possible, only to turn around and be face to face with him, Slender style.
You can run, you can hide, but this guy is shockingly smart. He will board up doors and move furniture to block you once he realizes there is an intruder, and if he sees you he will chase you down without hesitation. Busting through doors, windows, and anything else in his way. Just what is this man so desperate to hide? The game is unnerving enough, I may never find out but we will see because I am eager to review it upon its release. Hello, Neighbor is definitely one to look forward to if you are looking for something to keep you on the edge of your seat, and a game that changes every time you start over so that it has a ton of replay value.