Hello Neighbor is one of them games that is a rarity for me, in that it got me hyped for its release on console. Quickly becoming a hit with streamers and YouTube video creators, I did try to avoid it as often as I could manage, as to avoid spoilers for my own personal journey when I got my hands on it. For those of you unaware, or not in the know of the games premise, the game centers around you, a mute protagonist who witnesses something sinister in his neighbors house across the road. A woman’s scream, the basement door locked, and his quick reactions to your unwanted snooping should he spot you on his property. On paper, it all sounds like an exciting plot and prospect for a game, yet it fails to deliver the goods, which is immediately apparent once you begin playing.
It all starts off innocently enough, as you chase your football down the street, in a colourful world that is totally devoid of any kind of life. Houses placed in the surrounding areas cannot be interacted with in any way, except your suspiciously parent absent home, and your oddball neighbor across the street. It does still conjure up curiosity on behalf of the gamer, leaving you wondering what is inside his house, and what you can do to explore further. It’s at this point that the game falls flat on its face, and quite hard too. Venturing in through the front door and it’s soon obvious that there’s very little to do and the items you can pick up are there just for show, serving no purpose whatsoever. It’s not too long before he will find you though, and chase you out of the house, or sometimes jumping through his own windows to hunt you down as far as the end of his garden.
Heading around the back of the house, and you’ll find a ladder sectioned off via a locked steel wire gate, with a small window to the side of it. There’s no suggestion as to why you’re supposed to do here, leaving you stacking cardboard boxes up against the wall to see if you can enter through a window. Obviously, due to its small size, this is impossible. The realisation of just how vague the game is, and how your neighbor can hear you from the opposite side the house turns the game into a boring game of cat and mouse. His movement and actions are bizarre to say the least, having him jump 3-4 times his own height, sideways.
Once I finally found my way onto the first floor, and this took a considerable amount of time, I found keys that allowed me to progress the story further, although it’s still quite vague, ambiguous and just not interesting. He is supposed to get smarter, with adaptive AI each time he catches you, and it’s not hard to avoid him if you play it safe, although to delve further into the neighbor’s side of the story, you need to be caught several times, which puts you into a dream like scene, which certainly comes over as surreal with how they’re presented.
Spanning a trio of acts, Hello Neighbor increases the puzzle elements and devious nature of the game, yet at the same time fails to hold your attention, and soon descends into a situation where you feel as though you’re forcing yourself to play. As a concept, Hello Neighbor is interesting enough to capture your imagination, and could potentially have been a great game. However, the execution fails miserably, with what can only be described as an empty, soulless world with very little on offer to make you want to continue playing. Only one piece of the game made me tense, and that was when the music ramped up during chase scenes. It’s dubbed a stealth horror, but falls well short of the mark, as it offers very little in the way of horror, and stealth feels awkward and clunky due to the controls not being as tight as they could have been.
The achievement list is pretty much all based around performing random actions during Act 3, and could all be missed if you’re not heading out of your way. A list that’s unbalanced and put in a game that could be a massive disappointment to potential consumers who may not be concerned about playing that far in the game seems a bit of a waste.
Overall, Hello Neighbor fails to deliver the goods on what could have been a fantastic game given the concept, and massive potential of ideas that could have been implemented. It doesn’t run as bad since the patch was released, and the save error bug is no long gone. But I feel as though is a case of too little, too late for Hello Neighbor. The price is seriously questionable for what you get in return. If you’re insistent on making that purchase, then I’d highly recommend a sale, as it’s just not worth it in my humble opinion. It left a sour taste in my mouth, and thoughts of what could have been.
Overall Score 2/10
Developer: Dynamic Pixels
Release Date: 8th December 2017
File Size: 1.60GB
Xbox One Copy provided for review purpose
Available on Xbox One & Steam