Hello Neighbor (Switch) Review

Game: Hello Neighbor
System: Switch
Developer: Dynamic Pixels
Publisher: tinyBuild
Age Rating: 7+ (UK & EU) |10+ (US)
Price: £35.99 | €39,99| $39.99
Release Date: 27th July 2018
(Also available on Xbox One, PS4, iOS, Android and Steam)

Overall Feeling: I Like it

(Review Code generously provided by tinyBuild)

Hello Neighbor Switch Screenshot 1
Sneak into your suspicious neighbour’s house and find out what he’s hiding in the basement. Be careful though; cameras will be installed, traps shall be set and before you know it, he’ll be charging through windows and chasing you back to your house!

Gameplay & Controls

Hello Neighbor is a combination of: stealth, horror, puzzles and action. It consists of 4 Acts: 1,2,3 and finale. It is single player only and has no online functionality (but there is a multiplayer game in the works).  

Although the game revolves around one house, the design and layout of the house changes significantly with each act. The layout of the house becomes more bizarre and confusing, with additional rooms to explore, puzzles to complete and keys to collect.

Typically, there is more than one way to access certain areas and progress to the end of an act (but not always). It allows the player to try different approaches if one approach is failing and adds a bit of replay value  to the game. 

There isn’t a lot around to help point you in the right direction (there is certainly no hand holding here).  You simply search the area you are in and work out ways to reach rooms, activate switches, obtain keys and get to your goal. This is all while the neighbour is trying to stop you from running round his house causing mischief.

The game is said to have “advanced AI” – The neighbour checks areas more if you have been caught there and bear traps and cameras get set up. However, the neighbour gets caught in his own bear traps, sometimes has trouble getting around objects, or through doorways, and how he interacts with objects seems to be very limited. There were times when the neighbour chased me and got caught on an object or a wall (which ruins the tension). So unfortunately it falls a little short of feeling like there is an “advanced AI” (at least for me it did). 

In the options, you can make the neighbour more “friendly” which makes him slower and removes his ability to set up cameras and bear traps. If you just want to play through the game it’s a good option to have on; the neighbour still poses a bit of a challenge, but you have less to worry about while you try and figure out what to do and where to go.

There are segments in Hello Neighbor that are rather weird and obscure. They add more variety to the game in terms of areas to explore, but also bring insight into the characters’ lives/frame of mind – giving the player something to think about. These are the segments that bring more of a psychological horror aspect to the game,  while the neighbour charging at you/grabbing you is more of the typical jump scare you find in a lot horror games. It’s good to see a game incorporate horror aspects while still being deemed suitable for 7+ (or 10+ in the US), I haven’t come across many games like that.

Hello Neighbor has no tutorial, only information showing the controls, with some button prompts from time to time, and there is no alternative control method to the buttons and analog sticks.

The character feels a little clunky and imprecise due to the controls;  good enough to use though, so shouldn’t be too much of an issue for players (thankfully). You can adjust the “look sensitivity” which does help (to some extent at least). 

Hello Neighbor Switch Screenshot 2

Graphics & Soundtrack

Hello Neighbor looks very much like a quirky cartoon; it suits the game and stops things from getting taken too seriously or particularly creepy.

Unfortunately, the screenshots used to promote the Switch version of the game (as well as the trailer for it) are not of the Switch version.

Hello Neighbor Graphic Comparison

Not sure what version of the game they used to promote the game, but the Switch version is less detailed and has less assets around. Most likely the reduction is to try and keep the game running smoothly on Switch (which it does; majority of the time). I don’t see a problem with the difference in graphics (as the game’s selling point is not how it looks), but it would be nice to have a game looking as it appears in promotional trailers and images 🙂

The soundtrack consists mostly of soundscapes. It creates a more immersive atmosphere and builds up some tension while roaming around the property; especially when all is quiet besides the wind blowing,  leaves rustling and then you start hearing the music signifying the neighbour is near – then it’s time to run!

Hello Neighbor screenshot 3

Additional Comments

Hello Neighbor is a game that doesn’t directly tell you a story, it lets you discover and piece everything together yourself to draw your own conclusions. There are lots of hints to why the neighbour is the way he is, but they’re not completely obvious and if you don’t look carefully enough; you will likely miss important details.

Hello Neighbor is a game that contains layers to it’s narrative, on the surface it may come across as a creepy game involving a kid and his neighbour, but if you stop and think about certain aspects more and their meaning; then you see a slightly different side to the game.

There are all sorts of glitches/bugs in the game and you do see a number of objects weirdly hanging in the air when they look like that shouldn’t be – like a gap between the base of a house/tree/fence/road and the floor, or a “simming” poster just hanging in the air. You could argue it adds to the weird quirky look of the game, but it doesn’t look deliberate to me; so it makes me wonder if it was intentional or just something the developers overlooked.

The regular price of the Switch version of Hello Neighbor is currently £35.99, while on Steam the regular price is £23.79. The Switch version has lesser details,etc but has the ability of playing in handheld mode, tabletop mode and on the TV. If you are more for graphics than portability and have a PC that can run the Steam version; Steam version would be better value for money – don’t let the promotional materials fool you!

Overall Opinion

Searching everywhere for important items or details, is vital to progress in Hello Neighbor. The problem is, there is a good chance of the player missing important items or details, because they are too busy avoiding the neighbour. Either aspect on their own is rather straight forward, together however is a different story. Missing details or items can lead to the player just running round completely baffled, not progressing and feeling like giving up – which is not good for any game.

Now if there was an option or a way for the player to receive hints when they chose to; then that would be perfect. Perhaps something similar to the gossip stones in Zelda: Skyward Sword and Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, where they gave the player hints to help them progress, but they were optional. So if a player didn’t want any hints; they just didn’t visit a gossip stone. A hint system along those kind of lines would do wonders in making the game more accessible and appealing to more players I think.

The AI of the neighbour would be awesome if he interacted with his environment more; turn chairs up right, tidy a little, react to things happening around him more – he just doesn’t seem to really care that I threw his bread at his face or put his TV on his roof (lol). Also, it would be great to see him stop, then try and carefully tip toe around or over a trap to avoid it, rather than just walking straight through it and getting trapped in the process (he sets up the traps after all, so he should know where they are). If the neighbour didn’t get stuck on objects, doorways and walls, that would also be great – perhaps that’s partly to do with the environment design than his AI? Either way; I think the neighbour could be improved on, especially considering the game is focused around him.

I think using motion controls to interact and throw objects as well as look around, could give it another layer of  immersion – perhaps that’s just me?

Hello Neighbor to me, feels like it needs quite a bit of refining. For a £35.99 priced game, I expect a higher quality finish than what you get with the Switch version. They may release patches to improve it’s quality (really hope they do), but in it’s current state (version 1.0) I feel it’s over priced – around £25 would be more reasonable I think.

So why do I like Hello Neighbor? Mainly because of the obscurity of the narrative and the weird segments, but also; it is fun once you get your head around what you need to do, and how the neighbour will likely respond to your actions. After finishing the game I played through it again but looked at things in more detail for this review – I surprisingly found it more fun the second play through than the first; can’t say I’ve played many games like that.

I also like the soundtrack, although it’s rather minimal in places; it works great in creating atmosphere, tension and I really like the track you hear on the main menu – really suits the mood of the game.

Another reason; Hello Neighbor has plenty of glitches and bugs. I have posted a couple on twitter and there are far more than that – I love finding glitches in games 😛 . I only came across one glitch where it  prevented me from progressing in the game though – Strangely it seemed to also reset all the autosave data to the beginning of the act (luckily I saved it myself awhile before the glitch happened) – You can avoid that glitch from happening though, so it’s not a game breaking glitch; thankfully!

Hello Neighbor Switch Screenshot 4

Hello Neighbor is an interesting oddity of a game: it slots into different game genres, gives you little tidbits about the characters and what is really happening. It feels unrefined, but is enjoyable. Has lots of glitches and bugs, but is playable…Would I recommend it? Yes and No.

If you like to search around looking for items, like some horror and obscure moments in games, and don’t mind having nothing to guide you (unless you use a good walkthrough), then yes. Just don’t expect a dark creepy game though; it’s age rating of 7+ (10+ in US) after all.

Considering the current price of £35.99 and the quality of the game…I find it difficult to say it’s worth that amount of money unfortunately. I do like the game though; maybe wait for a price reduction or a discount?

I like it

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