Hello Neighbor Review

Dynamic Pixels's Hello Neighbor title screen.
Dynamic Pixels’s Hello Neighbor

Good video games that are also unique in the horror genre are few and far between. Lets players have revolutionized the production of horror games. That’s not to say that there wasn’t a decent selection of horror games prior to; it’s just to say that since the phenomenon known as let’s playing became a thing game developers started to see a cash cow grazing on the horizon.

I downloaded Hello Neighbor about a week or so ago with the intention that it would be a fun, little game for me to play while my son watched. It’s horror-esque while still being cartoony enough that I felt both my son and I could find a common ground upon which to stand and enjoy. And I was right. For a time it was…thrilling… because you never knew when you were going to get snatched and thrown away by The Neighbor. And, yeah, I was right that my son would find it endlessly funny because of the wacky-doodle way the game is and the environments are designed.

An example of the cartoon style of game environment in The Neighbor's living room.

I. Hate. Hello Neighbor. And I feel like the game designers are all simultaneously nodding their heads while going “of course you hate it.”

The game was intentionally designed to be stressful because it caters to it being more thrilling than scary. You’re a nosy little kid with this overwhelming urge to snoop around in the house across your street. If your neighbor catches you he throws you out. When your neighbor comes near the screen has an epileptic seizure and the music gets obnoxiously louder. Obviously, all of these things are supposed to increase the spookiness of the game; however, I’ve come to learn that they do nothing but increase your rage levels rather than make you scared.

The Neighbor sets down bear traps after being caught in one room too many times.
The Neighbor sets down bare traps if you’ve been caught in one place too many times.

You have a few options when the neighbor comes barreling after you. You can hide, run, or my more recent favorite option: let him catch you. I stopped running because it was very pointless and there was very little to lose if he does catch you. Your progress isn’t lost; the only penalty of him catching you is that he grows smarter to what you’re trying to do and tends to stalk the places you keep getting caught in.

Running is pointless because of this guy. This, heavyweight, chicken-nubben-fat-man can run so fast when he sees you that you may as well give up on life. Sometimes, yeah, you can get away, but most of the time it’s a futile effort. It takes a lot of the thrill right out of the game. Instead of charming joy that you’ve been scared and caught, you’re left with this seething hatred for the neighbor, and the hate only signals your urge to fight rather than the urge to flee. I’ve uttered so many empty threats to this game. He’s not a real character and yet I hate him so much.

The Neighbor catching you in game.

This is fine I guess. It adds difficulty to the game, BUT this games also happens to be stupidly hard. Not like “oh, that’s a thinker of a puzzle” hard. More like, “HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO FIGURE THAT OUT!?”

I can understand that as a gamer you’re equipped with the natural desire to observe your surroundings for any clues and such to help progress a puzzle game forward, but these puzzles are nothing more than random things sprinkled throughout the game. Some aspects of the game are decent puzzles, don’t mistake me, but a majority of them are flat out stupid. Maybe I’m just stupid, but after HOURS of trying to find some sort of benefit to my puzzle thinking I ended up turning towards the cheaty way and read a walkthrough.

But I digress. There is an official way of beating the levels through the game. Some walkthrough on the internet provides cheaty ways while others show the complicated steps through the game. Reading through both types of gameplay walkthroughs make me ashamed of myself insofar that I apparently am not as good at puzzle games as I thought.

But am I, though? I feel like the game is too harsh of a mixture of both being infuriatingly hard and having too intricate of puzzles to struggle bus through.

There are gamers out there that love the challenge and that’s totally fine, but casual gamers who may not have a lot of time might not see the game as something worth playing. It is a very time-consuming game. I spent far too long on the acts than I wanted.

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