Hello Neighbor is like Alien: Isolation with a Wallace and Gromit skin. Players step into the shoes of the unnamed protagonist who finds himself moving into a house across the road from the Neighbor. This strange, moustachioed man is hiding a secret and it’s up to you to find out what it is.
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Played from the first-person perspective, Hello Neighbor plays up its colourful jaunty visage, but only so it can ratchet up the scares. During my hands-on, the cartoon visuals lulled me into a false sense of safety. I was happily breaking and entering the Neighbor’s house without a care in the world.
Once he spotted me though, I was terrified. It’s amazing how quickly I became scared of this funny little cartoon man with a moustache. And he only became scarier the longer I played.
Don’t you open that trap-door
Every time he spotted me, he’d chase after me and banish me back to the other side of the street. When I would return to try and break in again, he’d have learned a bit about my methods and fresh traps would be waiting for me.
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If I broke in through a window and he caught me, he’d have installed a security camera in that room. Or he might have placed bear traps along the path I’d walked. Each and every time I failed, the Neighbor learned, became smarter and got a lot scarier. Hello Neighbor isn’t easy to begin with but once the Neighbor starts figuring you out, it gets much, much harder.
It’s a real game of cat and mouse and every time you make a mistake the game gets a little harder. Thankfully, it’s the kind of difficulty that makes you realise your failure was your own fault. Hello Neighbor doesn’t feel like it’s cheating. When I was caught, I knew I simply wasn’t being cautious or quiet enough.
Not all of Hello Neighbor is simply skulking around in someone else’s house. The majority of gameplay actually revolves around puzzle-solving. To make any progress at all you’ll need to solve the puzzle of how to get inside the house.
Then the puzzle of how to progress and so on. Every milestone you achieve is another puzzle solved. And it’s always hugely satisfying when you manage to get even an inch further than your previous attempt. Hello Neighbor is a game that came out of nowhere and took everyone by surprise.
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It’s quirky and difficult and definitely addictive. Although I played an unfinished version, the AI of the Neighbor was complete. He is definitely a worthy nemesis and is going to prove quite the tough customer. Hello Neighbor has a unique concept, great visuals and that ‘just one more go’ quality that keeps you playing all night.
The full release isn’t too far off now as it will be available for PC and Xbox One on December 8, 2017.