Hello Neighbor unashamedly steals the premise of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and jams it into a video game: you begin as a young child, watching with wide eyes as your shifty neighbour does something seemingly nefarious across the road. What results is a mystery-slash-horror adventure as you set out to uncover exactly what he’s done.
The puzzler is split into three distinct acts, with each growing more complex. The first act starts in moderate sized space; you’re encouraged to break into your neighbour’s home and begin your investigation. Not unlike the titular Alien in Alien: Isolation, your ever-present neighbour is lurking about his house, ready to pounce on you with each misstep you make. Your neighbour’s adaptive as well, learning from mistakes as much as you do; use the same window to gain access to his house and he’ll install security cameras or even a bear trap to keep you from using that option the next time.
This all sounds great, right? Sadly, it’s better in theory than in actual practice.
That initial comparison to Alien: Isolation aside, Hello Neighbor is a different beast entirely. While you’re constantly hearing him stomp around – alongside a rumbling bass line – your neighbour is nothing more than a mere annoyance after Act I. Instead, you’re tasked to solve a series of puzzles to continue through an ever-increasing abode. The problem here is that Hello Neighbor’s puzzles make zero sense, forcing you to resort to grabbing every object you can find and using it on everything else around you.
There’s no logic to the process at all; thankfully (?), Hello Neighbor’s been a while in the making, meaning there are easily-accessible solutions to each of the game’s puzzles on YouTube. I frequently had to resort to using video guides to continue down Hello Neighbor’s story. It’s almost fitting – your neighbour’s house looks like something out of Maniac Mansion, and some of the puzzles are equally as head-scratching.
Worse yet, the game’s super glitchy, dropping you through floors or disappearing objects that you might need down the line. The entire experience still feels like an initial early access build; there’s more joy to be found uncovering wacky things that shouldn’t happen rather than playing through the game as it was assumedly meant to be. This’ll make for weird livestreams, if you’re so inclined.
Hello Neighbor has squandered its potential, offering up an ugly, glitchy mess that doesn’t explain itself nor provides enough logic for you to properly function in its world. Those expecting an engaging, self-contained adventure will walk away quite disappointed; this is one that you’ll definitely have to collaborate with others with (and very likely, those others have been spending months throwing objects at in-game paintings).
Ultimately, the game is a mish-mash of concepts and half-cooked ideas that are never fully developed, wrapped up in a cutesy aesthetic that is at odds with its (at times) dark and disturbing themes. This is one to avoid.
Hello Neighbor was reviewed using a promotional code on Xbox One, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.