Google Stadia is still building its platform by adding titles from the last few years with a few of their “First to Stadia” games thrown in. I’ve always asked myself whether there is much point to throwing older titles onto a platform that isn’t completely established as yet. Sure, this method will appeal to completely new players on the platform, but to those who own gaming consoles already not so much.
Hello Neighbor is developed by Dynamic Pixels and published by tinyBuild enters the Stadia store almost three years after its initial launch on PC and Xbox One way back on 8th December 2017. Hello Neighbor is a survival horror stealth game where the aim of the game is to sneak into your neighbour’s house and uncover a secret in the basement. The game sets you off as a child named Nicky Roth, who is playing in the street when he hears a scream from his neighbour’s house. When you go to investigate you witness what you think is the neighbour locking someone in his basement. All sounds unique for a game, doesn’t it? This is what drew me in as the plot is fantastic, but the execution of the plot in terms of gameplay isn’t as strong. I didn’t get around to playing this on a console, so was intrigued to give this the full run through and see if it was as creepy as it sounds.
Hello Neighbor is played across three acts and you’ll spend a lot of your time trying to avoid your neighbour as you attempt to uncover what he is hiding. This is where the stealth side comes in as obviously you do not want to be caught and if you raise suspicion, he will come after you to try to find out what is occurring. He will roam around his property trying to catch and kick you out. The premise sounds like fantastic fun, but very clumsily implemented, and during the first act, I found it very difficult to navigate the small floor space. This resulted in me being found fairly frequently, thus taking me several attempts to gain the results I desired. Whilst there are places you can hide in the neighbour’s house to avoid detection and obstacles you can chuck in the way as he edges towards you, it can become a frustration.
As the game transfers into acts two and three, it becomes a little less claustrophobic and easier to manage. But then the slow introduction of some mind-boggling puzzles comes into play and I’ll be honest, I got to the point where I had to google some of them as I spent a long time scratching my head wondering what to do next. The lack of instruction with any element of the game would leave extremely casual and younger players in limbo of whether or not they should stick the game out at this stage. I’m not stating that your hand should be held throughout the game, but some slight indication of direction should be sewn into the game, really.
It isn’t all doom and gloom here, though, there are some really intelligent factors within Hello Neighbor. One of these being the fact that he will learn your movements and behaviour. So for instance if you break a window, the next time you go near the window he may have boarded it up. I enjoyed the fact that even though the graphics are cartoony and aimed at a broad range of gamers, there is still a gut feeling of fear and being on edge in case he catches you. There is a sense of satisfaction from discovering new areas and looking over your shoulder whilst you explore them.
It does become clear, though, after a significant period of playing that the neighbour is more of an annoyance whilst you explore and complete puzzles. Again, these were made mundane by the fact there is no clear explanation of what exactly is required to gear you towards solving the particular puzzle. You then opt for trying every element or item on something else to see if you get somewhere with what you’re attempting to achieve. I’ll be honest and state that after considerable time I wanted to turn the game off, but I stuck with it to see if there were some bright sparks of gameplay further ahead in time. Almost every puzzle I located, I ended up having to use Google in order to find out the answer in what to do next. Some players may find that the no explanation factor is a great move as they will want to figure out how to get through the level. There also appeared to be inconsistency with the neighbour’s field of view and what actually disturbs him. There is no penalisation for being caught by the neighbour either, which results in starting from the beginning of where you were.
I experienced several bugs and glitches during the puzzle-solving portions of the game where items would just completely vanish and then reappear. This obviously halts any progression at the time, forcing you to restart to see if the same instance of gameplay occurs. This, in turn with the strange stance on the game’s puzzles, just killed any fun during the game for me sadly.
I enjoyed some parts of Hello Neighbor and it’s a real shame that there wasn’t more fun for me here. Whilst it is an excellent concept for a video game, it is poorly implemented and some simple changes would have made it more important. Just some general polish, bug fixes and maybe a hint system to give players an idea of what they are doing. The performance on Google Stadia was absolutely flawless with no issues in being streamed down onto the Chromecast. Whilst there has been a spin-off of Hello Neighbor recently, a sequel to this is on the cards which is hopefully an opportunity to put some wrongs, right. The developers have a lot of work to do in order to improve this concept and hopefully, a second crack of the whip can be successful.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Google Stadia code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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Hello Neighbor Review
Gameplay - 4/10
Graphics - 4/10
Sound - 4/10
Replay Value - 4/10
User Review( votes)
Hello Neighbor isn’t about tapping on the door and asking for sugar. Instead you’ll be sneaking around attempting to find out your neighbors darkest secrets.
- An original concept.
- Clever artificial intelligence.
- Colourful vivid visuals.
- Puzzles are way too confusing to execute.
- Needs some serious bug fixing even three years after launch.
- Some explanation of what is going on would be nice.