Hello Neighbor Review — A Nail-Biting But Aggravating Experience
Hello Neighbor's bugs, non-helpful gameplay, and odd art style make for an inconsistent and flawed first-person puzzle game.
When Hello Neighbor was originally revealed many years ago, I was genuinely excited for the quasi-horror/puzzle game. Unfortunately, that excitement quickly ran out when I found out that the game was only coming to PC and Xbox One (at the time), as my PC can’t handle running many games, and I simply didn’t own an Xbox One.
That all changed when the developer announced it would be coming to Switch and PS4, two consoles I actually own; I was honestly counting the down the days until I got my code for the game. When I started playing Hello Neighbor, however, my excitement quickly turned into annoyance and disappointment.
For those that don’t know, Hello Neighbor is a first-person horror game that puts you in the shoes of a little boy (at least for two-thirds of the game) who witnesses his neighbor locking something–or someone–in their basement in a very suspicious way. Your goal is to try and get down there in order to find out what he’s hiding. Of course, players will have to complete puzzles and avoid detection from the Neighbor by hiding or running in order to get in and out of the house safely.
As always, let’s start with the positives: Hello Neighbor does a terrific job at building suspenseful, moment-to-moment gameplay. You will never really know when the Neighbor will be right outside the door you’re about to enter. If you do happen to be caught, you do have a split-second to get away (usually) but you’ll have to either lose him with speed or hide in a wardrobe until he leaves you alone. There were plenty of times where I was never truly sure if I lost him, even when I was hiding, which can allow for some nail-biting moments. While there are a couple of other parts of the game that I liked, like the VERY forgiving checkpoint system, beyond the game’s tense moments Hello Neighbor is basically a huge disappointment.
Probably the biggest complaint I have about Hello Neighbor is the fact that it doesn’t tell you how to do anything. Besides the control layout located in the settings and a small tip-like screen on the pause menu, the game basically tells you nothing about what you’re supposed to do.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I love it when a game doesn’t hold your hand and I’m usually not one to talk about difficulty. But the game literally just drops you into the world and doesn’t tell you what your objectives are or how to complete each act. Because of this, I was stuck wandering around the world for hours, just to slowly but surely finish the level through determination. There’s no reward in taking your time, and because of that, it’s just not fun to play.
On top of the frankly annoying gameplay, Hello Neighbor is horrible to look at. Like the subject of difficulty, I try and stay away from criticizing a game’s art style, but I just can’t do that here. While the character model for the Neighbor himself looks good, everything else doesn’t. In the few times that the game shows the character you play as, it always looks so cartoony to the point that I can’t take it seriously in the slightest. While I enjoy a good, animated art style in almost any other instance, Hello Neighbor just seems lazy and odd.
Beyond the terrible art style, the game has more bugs than a weeklong camping trip in the woods. I can recall multiple instances when the neighbor would either freeze or get caught on an object in the game world, which would allow me to literally walk right next to him so long as I didn’t face the front of his body.
In another instance, I was retrieving a key and when I went to the door, my hand clipped through it, and I accidentally pressed the wrong button which caused the key to drop out of my hand. Clipping is normal in games, and I won’t really complain about that; however, what isn’t normal is the fact that the key went completely to the other side of the door. Since I couldn’t access the door without the key, I had to restart that whole section, which caused one of my first instances of rage quitting ever while reviewing a game.
All in all, Hello Neighbor is a massive disappointment and not a very good game in the slightest. While the game’s nail-biting AI can make for some interesting moments every now and then, it doesn’t make up for how hard the game is, how buggy it can be, and how bad the art style looks. At $29.99, there’s absolutely no chance I can recommend it to anyone, unless of course, you like games that tell you nothing about what to do.