Hello Neighbor Review - The House That Mediocrity Built

Curiosity turns into frustration in the ramshackle stealth horror game, Hello Neighbor.

1 month ago by Larryn Bell in Reviews

If you’ve been keeping up with the indie scene for a while, you’ll likely have heard of Dynamic Pixel's ambitious stealth horror game, Hello Neighbor. Much like the antagonist’s ever-evolving abode, Hello Neighbor has been in development for a while and has undergone several iterations leading up to its December launch. While the concept of Hello Neighbor speaks to the nosy curiosity within all of us, the game’s puzzle design and execution leave much to be desired.

Hello Neighbor is a stealth game about sneaking into your neighbor’s house and snooping around to discover what might be hiding in the basement. The game is parsed into three acts, each at a different age for the protagonist. In Act 1, you start off as a young kid who hears some unnerving sounds coming from the neighbor’s house while playing outside. With your imagination running wild, you take it upon yourself to sneak into the neighbor’s house and investigate. 

The neighbor’s house initially begins as a regular suburban home with a few odd bells and whistles attached, such as a curious wire strung out the back window. It’s up to you to figure out how to break into the neighbor’s house without him noticing.  The only way to monitor the neighbor’s movements is with a rumbling audio cue that alerts you of the neighbor’s proximity. 

Unfortunately, the build up of each stealth excursion becomes marred by the game’s floaty physics, adding an unwelcome layer of frustration right from the start. Your character will bounce and drift off of objects when jumping or climbing, which are necessary activities for getting through the puzzles in each act.

All the while, the slightest bump or noise will cause the neighbor to instinctively hunt you down, and there’s not much you can do to defend yourself once he's close enough. He’s unpredictable in a buggy, overpowered sort of way, clipping through objects and unexpectedly sensing you as he roams about his house. All too often, you’ll get captured not by any real fault in your awareness, but instead due to floaty jumping mechanics, frustrating controls, and unfairly overpowered AI. 

The puzzles themselves are rather unintuitive, lacking any real logic or inspiration. If you resist the urge to look up walkthroughs of the game, you’ll likely uncover the solution to each environmental puzzle accidentally, rather than through logical problem solving. This interferes with the game’s overall pacing, making for a cumbersome, annoying experience. 

In the remaining two chapters of Hello Neighbor, the neighbor’s house will undergo some wacky renovations. While the puzzles do get more complex, they don’t get any more elegant in design. The game never really becomes more than a repetitive slog as you struggle to overcome various glitches and control issues.

The most tragic part about Hello Neighbor is the fact that there’s never really any payoff in terms of storytelling. While various clues are sprinkled throughout the game alluding to your relationship with the neighbor, the ending lacks clarity and is quite underwhelming. 

Hello Neighbor feels unpolished, which is unfortunate considering how much potential it had. The final product feels rushed and is not worth struggling through in its current state. Despite its compelling premise and appealing art style, Hello Neighbor is a game that should be locked away in the basement until further notice.

Pros
  • Nice aesthetic
  • Intriguing story premise
Cons
  • Floaty physics
  • Illogical puzzle design
  • Overpowered neighbor AI
  • Underwhelming, unclear narrative