“…Hello Neighbour is already a wonderful depiction of beautiful evil.”
Hello Neighbour is a quirky stealth horror game from the creative minds at Dynamic Pixels and tinyBuild. Taking some clear inspiration from 2007’s Hollywood psychological thriller Disturbia, the game focusses on sneaking into your neighbour’s home in search of a dark secret within…
A heart-pounding title even at this early stage, Hello Neighbour is quick to show you who’s the boss. Beyond some very brief and menial tasks which help you learn the basic controls, the game tells you little of what you need to do next, instead relying on where your instincts themselves will lead you. After sleeping through your first night in your new home, you spot something… unusual about your neighbours activities. Planting the seed of curiosity, the game gently suggests that you might want to check it out. As you can imagine from the way I started this paragraph, your first attempt to do this will likely turn out to be a mistake.
When your neighbour catches you intruding on his property, he is naturally less than pleased, and the game throws his very daunting face directly through your screen to let you know. Not only does this provide a very sudden and literally in your face jump scare, it also makes you think twice about going back again. Despite that fact, for some reason, you can’t help but feel compelled to do so. After all, now you know what happens, how scary can it be? Right? It’s easy to say, but in practice you will find that your cautiousness on your second attempt makes up half of the game’s stealth mechanics on its own.
Hello Neighbour doesn’t rely purely on the convenience of your apprehensions to develop its immersive experience. A smart AI is combined with an overwhelmingly tense atmosphere to make sure that your time in the game is a fearful one. Each attempt you make to break into your neighbour’s home makes the next more difficult, with the AI learning from your moves and ultimately calculating and anticipating the next one. It is a daunting idea, but even in these early stages it is clear that the beginnings of the system work well. Taking the same path multiple times is not an option, and neither is using the same hiding spaces or distractions. Breaking into your real neighbour’s home might even be easier. Please don’t try that though.
At this point in the game’s development, your greatest asset is the ability to utilise items in the world to your advantage, in an effort to make it into your neighbour’s basement. You can pick up various world objects, some of which can be used for a purpose, whilst others can simply be thrown as a distraction. A torch or a pair of binoculars for example can be made use of to plan and approach your target, whilst an old radio might make for an apt diversion if you need to make a run for it. Although crude right now, all evidence shows that the game is moving in the right direction in terms of interactivity within the world.
One of the game’s greatest merits falls outside of the gameplay itself though, and that is its style. Appropriately and accurately described by the creators as having Pixar-style visuals, Hello Neighbour reminds me of Disney Pixar’s Up in terms of style, and the aesthetic works perfectly in its favour. The villain is given a menacing feel, whilst his home holds the air of extraordinary mystery around it. The world around these foci is adapted to suit the style too, from objects to backgrounds. It is a delight to look at and feel a part of, and the level of detail is fantastic even now. Down the line, this game is likely to look truly special.
Given that this build of the game is only a very early alpha, the content is limited, with the playability being limited to that of a demonstration of what is to come. That being said, there are aspects of the game in need of refinement and clarification. A little more instruction on how to play wouldn’t go amiss, as what little is there is good but not necessarily enough to set you on your way properly. Similarly, some clarity could be added to the story, encouraging the player to play on with some level or reason, rather than based on instinct alone. The gameplay itself however works as well as could be expected at this point, bar if anything the fact that it is especially hard to succeed!
Even if you are not confident enough to back the early access title just yet, the free alpha 1 build for Hello Neighbour is certainly worth a little of your time to try out. A unique quirkiness gives this little stealth title a daunting appeal. It makes me feel uneasy in my bones that it looks so welcoming, when in my mind I know that it is a horror game beneath that facade. A game well worth a go with a clear and bright future ahead of it, Hello Neighbour is already a wonderful depiction of beautiful evil.
Review on PC