Hello Neighbor has seemingly been in development since forever, as from 2015 onward the title in question has received an abundance of early access, alpha, and beta versions, which have been played to death by many at this point. And the overexposure which Hello Neighbor has been a victim of, has ultimately killed any hype which some had for it. As many, including me, have seen numerous gameplay presentations, playthroughs, and even walkthroughs as with every new release both Twitch and YouTube have been flooded with thousands of hours of Hello Neighbor related content. And once the complete PC version has hit the digital shelves, many were already sick of it.
Back in 2017, many PC players have opted to skip the final release of Hello Neighbor, as all those who cared about it have already seen all that there was to experience. And while such outcome could be seen as disappointing, it has ultimately worked out in favor of those who decided to stay away from Dynamic Pixels’ newest release. As the final product was severely underdone, and lacked in most areas. The visuals were underwhelming, it was largely poorly optimized, and for a title which has undergone thousands of hours of testing, it was surprisingly ridden with bugs and glitches, which only dragged it further down hill. And unfortunately not much has changed since then, as the PlayStation 4 version of the title, which is out now, is just as under-cooked as the dreaded PC release.
Hello Neighbor might have been in development for three years – as far as the PlayStation 4 release goes – but it is just as underwhelming as its 2017, PC counterpart. Visually, Hello Neighbor is lagging behind the vast majority of its premium-indie competition, as despite of its artistic simplicity, it is still full of low-quality textures, and features a steady portion of digital artifacting. And worst of all, Hello Neighbor, despite of its limited nature has a tendency to load textures right before your eyes – even during cutscenes. And unfortunately, I had the displeasure to watch the introductory cutscene, with textures constantly loading in as it went along.
Having to watch a cutscene with constantly loading textures can be incredibly disappointing, as it showcases how underdone the title truly is. But on the other hand, maybe it would be for the better if some textures remained stuck in a loading loop, as certain elements of the title, such as roads, look better without their photo-realistic textures, than with. But despite of how jarring the texture pop-ins can be, they are still not as damaging as the title’s rather shambolic technical state, which allows you to both exploit Hello Neighbor, and downright break it. And while some of you may love the freedom which a freely exploitable games leave, others will understandably frown upon it as the ability to skip certain puzzles and obstacles can ruin a game completely.
In many ways, Hello Neighbor is like a fried egg which somebody has tried to fry on an ice-cold pan. The desire behind it was right, and so is the premise, but the execution was unfortunately lacking. As Hello Neighbor is by no means a bad game, it is simply under-cooked. As the otherwise intriguing premise and competent level design, are held back completely by inconsistent gameplay features, game breaking bugs, and last but certainly not least shambolic technical framework on which the title has been built upon. But to say that Hello Neighbor has no redeemable features would be incorrect, as this rather clunky and infuriating stealth game, has its moments of brilliance.
The basic premise of Hello Neighbor is great, you are placed in shoes of a certain individual who throughout his life, finds himself clashing horns with his sinister neighbor, which may or may not be responsible for a string of missing children. And at first you start of as a curious child who simply wants to see what his neighbor is hiding within his basement, but with time you become an adult who seeks to uncover the truth behind his neighbor’s eccentric actions, and rather sinister past. And all this is complemented by a rather competently designed, open-ended levels which are filled with puzzles, secrets, and clues.
In addition to rather satisfying core game design, Hello Neighbor also features a Metal Gear Solid V-like gameplay feature where the titular neighbor, just like Metal Gear Solid’s hostiles, adapts to your play-style. So if you have a tendency to follow a certain route, he’ll make sure that your traversal will be impeded, or if he catches you hiding in a closet, next time round the very same closet will have a bear trap lying right in front of it, preventing you from hiding inside. And while this gameplay mechanic can be easily exploited – just like all the other components of Hello Neighbor – through you simply running outside and being caught outside of the property, it is still a nice enough addition, which those who want the complete Hello Neighbor experience will surely appreciate.
The timing of Hello Neighbor’s release is rather ironic, as it launches mere days after the release of Remothered: Tormented Fathers, which also revolves around exploration of a large property, inhabited by a deeply sinister and nefarious man. But where Remotherd is hell-bent on following the poplar tropes established by some of the top games, Hello Neighbor simply does its own thing, albeit with a little help of the above-mentioned AI learning algorithm, which can be found within numerous titles. And for that alone, it deserves a heavy dose of respect, as not many titles these days pursue a unique direction, without trying to copy other intellectual properties.
When all is said and done, it has to be said that Hello Neighbor, can be an immensely enjoyable title as it is fairly competent, and at times exceptional at its core. However, the very same core which is a host to the title’s gameplay design, also features the technical components of it, and those are rustier than the remnants of the Titanic. And ultimately, drag the Hello Neighbor down to the depths of the ocean, as the title’s positives, no matter how profound, are simply not significant nor extensive enough to keep this sinking ship afloat. And that’s rather unfortunate, as Hello Neighbor could have been something truly special.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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