In a market segment that is not overly crowded, it is still very much appreciated to see developers take on a unique or refreshing approach. “Hello Neighbor” is a self-proclaimed stealth horror game with procedural AI. Believe it or not, looking at the graphics it looks like something you can play with kids. Screenshots are one thing though, let’s take a peek at how this actually plays.
- The concept of a stealth horror game with this graphical style is pretty unique in a scene where most games can look very much the same.
- While you can sneak, rarely is stealth gameplay rewarded or even viable. The random moves of the neighbor mean you’ll just get jumped if you slowly move around, so most of the time, running is the way to go over actual sneaking.
- The respawning mechanic makes so little sense, especially since you get to keep your inventory but broken windows and such get reset. But any traps the neighbor placed are still there. Any stuff you moved and dropped somewhere remains in the new place though.
- The stealth and horror gameplay genre is usually for adults only, and with good reason, this game seemed like it would be suitable for a wider audience. Forgive the early review spoiler here, but there is just one audience I can see that could somewhat enjoy this game and that is content creators playing this for an audience as the weird bugs and design choices would give plenty to talk about.
- The game glitches often. The neighbor gets stuck on scenery and keeps trying in a weird bouncing back and forth motion. Honestly, this was the closest the game came to being considered in the horror genre, it was that unsettling to watch.
- It’s entirely possible to get stuck and having to restart the entire game. I had to use a magnet to pull a tool towards me from a room, I accidentally let go of the button before moving the magnet outside of the small window, dropping the device out of sight and out of reach. Unfortunately, even reloading from the last checkpoint, still had it in the unreachable place. This tool was necessary to reach the next stage, so I had to restart the game.
- The often mentioned procedural AI in the game is a huge letdown. For example, I was standing on the road outside the neighbor’s house. He is inside and spots me and runs and jumps through the closed window and instead of falling bleeding on the ground, he stands in front of the now broken window with his arms crossed, staring my way. Important to note is that the window was next to the front door. Don’t ask me why he bothered going outside in the first place, he could just have stared at me from behind the window.
- When he doesn’t spot you, it’s not much better. He’ll turn on the tv and walk out of the room. He’ll go outside and stretch and jog in place. This makes sense and is a nice touch when he is in his own garden or house, but when he moves into the middle of the street or in front of another home to do this, it looks really awkward.
- The procedural AI reaction to catching you was said to be something like placing a trap in a window you frequently use. That’s not how this works at all. First, in the starting house, no response seems to come from getting caught. Once in the basement, things suddenly change gears. I got caught, and the neighbor immediately placed bear traps and cameras in an area where he didn’t see me. Worse still, I let myself get busted a couple of times, and he placed 3 cameras on top of each other, all facing the same way. It just doesn’t make any sense.
- In addition to this. When you actually try to play stealthy and sneak around the house the neighbor will develop psychic powers and start running around his house and jumping around corners. It’s really bizarre. This goes doubly so when hiding in a closet and you wait until he is elsewhere, as soon as you step out the neighbor tends to jump back into the room, quickly turning this back into a running simulator instead of a stealth game.
- The puzzles are poorly designed, most requiring more trial and error and exhausting every option than actually making sense and be something where you can just observe the situation and figure it out from there. This does help in making the game seem to have gameplay hours than the actual content would justify.
- Physics and movement are not a redeeming factor either. You play as a scrawny kid that can throw a box full of stuff 100 yards without flinching. When said box hits a window, it easily rebounds another 50 yards. As for movement, while your oversized neighbor jumps through the glass of closed windows like a champ, your character frequently has serious difficulty climbing through a wide open one. Don’t even get me started on climbing up or over various obstacles.
- The storyline doesn’t seem to add anything to the game. Considering how absurd the gameplay is, it would have been better to just leave out any storytelling or deliver a more self-aware title.
[Score: 2,5/10] Hello Neighbor is marketed as a stealth horror game but really fails to live up to either label. The overly mentioned procedural AI mostly disappoints and often breaks immersion a lot more than it adds to it. As much as I looked forward to this title, I haven’t been this disappointed with a game in a very long time. The only mileage I see people getting out of this is played for an audience. Other than that, it just lacks enjoyment to such an extent that I almost have trouble calling it a game.