Hello Neighbors is a console and computer game categorized under the genre of 'horror', although 'suspense' would be more accurate. The premise of the game is that your neighbor has something to hide in his basement and you need to find out exactly what. If he catches you snooping around however, the game ends and you have to try again. Essentially, it's like a game of tag (while the ending is sudden, it isn't gory) but there is a twist. Every time you are caught your neighbor (the AI software) learns your tactics and adapts to make it harder for you. If you try going through the same door, for example, you might find a booby trap on the other side! Hello Neighbors is an original concept in strategy gaming with simple yet lovable artwork and, even if you are new to 'horror' games, this could keep you entertained for a long time.
An original concept in horror and strategy gaming
A suspense-filled game designed too heavily with YouTube streamers in mind.
The biggest plus of this game is the concept itself. In a time where most games are just pale imitations of each other, Hello Neighbors has dared to be different and this has paid off. You're landed opposite a neighbor from hell in (presumably) American suburbia. A normal-looking (except for his distinctive moustache), middle-aged man is up to something sinister in his basement and you need to find out exactly what. It is so simple and yet highly plausible and therefore easy to relate to. It's not just asking 'what could you do', it's asking 'what would you do', and that makes it twice as scary and appealing at the same time.
If you want to try the free version, you'll only need to give your email address in order to create a GOG (a gaming and film distribution platform) account and login, from which you can download the game. Having a trial version makes deciding whether or not to splash out and buy the full game much less of a risk. As mentioned, this is quite a niche game: horror meets strategy plus a quirky plotline. It is great that you can dip your toe in the water and get a sense if this game will be for you or not. The game is also really popular among YouTube streamers so there are plenty of videos online you can watch as well.
YouTube streamers has become a popular form of entertainment in which gamers share live video feeds of them playing a game for people to watch and comment. This is key information because the game itself has clearly been heavily designed for this industry. As a game which seeks to scare, it's no surprise that this was an obvious market to target. They have certainly been successful. A cursory search shows multiple 'Hello Neighbor' videos on YouTube with over a million hits. The game's emphasis on being fun to watch has come at the cost of being great to play.
It is not an intuitive game to play. You may be prepared to spend time restarting the game trying to narrow down exactly how to solve the puzzle of your neighbor's wrongdoings. You expect the objectives themselves to be clear, however, but they're really not. Even if you've read the game's description, exactly what you're supposed to be doing and when is often entirely elusive. While the animated clips between levels adds a degree of overall narrative, it doesn't really help with the gameplay itself. You'll also have to work the controls out for yourself. This doesn't mean you shouldn't play the game, just don't expect an easy ride!
Where can you run this program?
You can run this program on Windows 7 or later, iPhone 5S or later, PS4, XBOX ONE and Nintendo Switch. The breadth of platforms for this game is a testament to its popularity.
While this review focuses on how the game runs on Windows, the Pros and Cons of the game will remain largely the same. You won't need to worry about graphics, if you're using a games console, however. When you're playing on a Windows PC, you are given the choice of playing the game in a range of qualities from 'Low' up to 'Epic'. It may take some trial and error working out which option is right for your PC.
Is there a better alternative?
If you like horror games, you're spoilt for choice. From Dead Space (1 and 2) and Penumbria ('Overture' and 'Black Plague') to Pathologic and System Shock 2, there's no shortage of options. When you take into account the originality of Hello Neighbor's concept and it unusual merging with the puzzle-solving end of strategy games, it becomes hard to substitute or compare it to anything else.
If you're looking for a quick and intuitive game to dive straight into then this isn't the one. With very little indication of what you're actually supposed to do or even how you're supposed to do it (the controls are left as somewhat of a mystery), you'll need plenty of time and patience to get what this game has to offer. Unless of course, you choose to enjoy the game as so many others to by simply watching it played by someone else on YouTube. You're either willing to overlook a few shortcomings or jump back into the mainstream pool of horror.
Hello Neighbors is an endearing game. Unlike most commercial games out there, you feel as though you can directly connect with the game developers. There's oodles of personality and character, not just in the creativity of the concept but in the artistry, soundtrack and design of the suburban world created by the Dynamic Pixels developer studio. It is such a fun idea and breaks away from the same rehashed gaming models that, for me, it is worth trying for that reason alone. This is not the game to test the latest and greatest graphics, nor is it intuitive. For better and worse, it is different.
Should you download it?
If you love horror and strategy games and you're prepared to put up with a self-taught learning-curve then give this game a try. You don't need to pay and download the full game. Start off with the free trial. If you're not sure whether you like strategy and horror games (or how patient you'll be trying to work the game out) then give the trial ago as well: it's free!