Hello Neighbor is a broken game built on a great premise. Occasionally, you see these glimmers of greatness as you play, but I was more often frustrated by the design, bugs, and general inconsistency in the experience. Just like in real life, sometimes avoiding the neighbors is best.
The game is set in your typical suburban neighborhood. There is a curious kid playing ball outside when he sees his neighbor drag a screaming person to the basement. Instead of calling the police on the mustachioed lunatic across the street, he decides to sneak into the home and see what’s in the basement for himself.
The Neighbor is not going to sit back and watch you play home invader. He is relentlessly patrolling inside and outside the house. If he sees you, he will chase you, throw things to blur your vision or slow you down, and try to grab you. When he inevitably captures you, you wake up at the beginning of the level or back in your house.
Most of the time, the things that you did and items you had are still with you. There are four times of day from morning to night with different amounts of light, and you advance to the next time of day after each capture. During the night, I could hardly see anything inside. I kept checking the game for a gamma adjustment, but it doesn’t exist.
Although billed as a stealth horror game, Hello Neighbor is really a puzzle platforming game that keeps you ducking and outrunning an unbeatable boss. There are puzzles inside and outside that will open a valve to power something, open doors, or give you a key you need to move to the next act of the game.
- Developer: tinyBuild Games
- Release Date: July 27th
- Price: $29.99, £24.99
Some of these rooms are filled with nothing but guesswork. In frustration, I was just throwing boxes at things in one room until a secret switch activated. Other things need a sequence of events to happen to move forward. A mini game had me guessing what I needed in my shopping cart to leave a creepy grocery store. It led to a lot of trial and error, and it felt unnecessarily complicated. It could be that I am just not very bright, and I have never made a secret of that.
The physics in the game made trial and error a chore. I died a lot while trying to land some jumps. If I stacked boxes to reach a higher place, sometimes the box would stack neatly where I wanted. Other times, it would fly out of my hand like a catapult forcing me to begin again. Sometimes, I was catapulted away from something I was trying to climb. I often struggled with understanding whether the fault was with what I was trying to do, or if I was continually fighting the game itself.
The Neighbor isn’t waiting around for you to solve puzzles or try a jump from a slightly different angle for the thirtieth time. He will spot you and make a bee line for you. If he is close, time will slow down, giving him the advantage.
This gives you two problems. First, you have to go back to where you were, before he caught you. If you were in a difficult place, it could take a couple of minutes. The second problem is that he increases security wherever you keep going. If you keep having to replay the same area, it becomes increasingly difficult.
I didn’t enjoy restarting, but the security changes were a great design choice. If you keep breaking a window to enter his home, he boards up the window. He may also put a bear trap under the window to slow you down. He may put security sensors that make noise when you come too close in areas you frequent. You can overcome all of these issues or ignore some of them, but it was a cool idea.
You cannot ignore the glitches in the game. I encountered problems everywhere. I would try to put something down and have it fall through the floor. It might also make a sound like you put silverware in the blender and wobble across a wall or through the floor. Instead of catching me, the Neighbor was stuck in place doing the Running Man dance a few times. Among other places, I was stuck in the wall, forcing me to restart. Sometimes, I would survive a fall, and other times I would die immediately from an equivalent distance. I lost items that did not respawn in the lost and found box, and I could not find in the house, forcing me to restart an entire act.
Over several acts and a finale, you do see more of the story. There is an effort to communicate a deeper meaning that still has me guessing, and they do all of this with zero spoken dialogue. Whether they chose this path due to budget or an artistic design choice, it works without beating you over the head.
The visuals and music are basic, but they’re fine. Once again, more is not needed here. The cartoony design matches a house in which bear traps are used as both decoration and deterrent. The sound cues and music to let you know trouble is coming were very effective.
When the game works, it’s fun and interesting. For too much of the game, it doesn’t work, and that’s unacceptable for a title priced at $29.99 US. Between the glitches, bad physics, and confusing design choices, I cannot recommend Hello Neighbor.
Hello Neighbor PS4 Review
Hello Neighbor has some good ideas that are not executed very well. The mysterious circumstances, breaking into the home, and increasing security at your frequently visited places contribute to the positive ideas and show a lot of love went into its creation.
Unfortunately, the glitches, unpredictable physics, and bad design keep me from recommending what could otherwise be a unique and interesting game.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using a PS4 Pro.
Jason became terminally addicted to videogames after receiving the NES at an early age. This addiction grew to include PC gaming and was cemented with the launch of the PS2. From then on, he was afflicted with epic RPGs, tense shooters, and deep strategy games, never becoming skillful, but never able to quit. He continues to play games (poorly) and share his passion for them to anyone willing to listen.