One Giant Mystery Full of Mysteries
The folks at TinyBuild have had a stellar year releasing some of the most memorable indie games 2017 has to offer. Waiting until just weeks before the year comes to a close, the small indie company teams up with developers Dynamic Pixels to create one of the most unique gaming ideas this year – Hello Neighbor.
The latest release from the same studio who launched The Final Station, Mr. Shifty and Phantom Trigger, Hello Neighbor is a completely different take on the stealth/horror genre. Revolving around one mysterious neighbor, players are determined to make their way into his house and discover what secrets the disgruntled, but somberly terrifying resident is hiding. Shot in beautifully rendered graphics best described as ‘Pixar-style’, developers, Dynamic Pixels, create a brightly lit, suspenseful thriller with their latest release.
The entire goal to Hello Neighbor is to successfully sneak into your protective neighbors home and discover what secret he has locked away. Hiding in closets, around corners or throwing distractions in the opposite direction you’re headed are all viable, and resourceful options to finding your way around the house. Finding keys are essential for progressing further, as specific rooms or sections of the house are behind locked doors. Retrieving these keys, however, is an entire objective of its own.
A House Brimming with Puzzles
The controls are about as basic as a 3D stealth game can get. Grabbing and throwing miscellaneous objects to cause distractions or create new ways of entry – or exits (e.g. breaking windows), crouching to become less detectable and sprinting for when you need to make break for a hiding spot/room, or worse – you’ve been spotted. If you have been detected by the homing presence of the mysterious neighbor, the game’s camera begins to imitate a tunnel vision effect,and the closer he is, the more intense the feeling becomes. Jumping is also an option, to help get over obstacles, or perhaps jump in or out of a window.
If caught, the player is transported back across the street in front of their starting house. Of course, retreating to your home is also an option to avoid being snubbed by the eerily grinning neighbor. The game always manages to capture a thrilling ride no matter where you are in the house as the constant fear of being discovered lurks around every corner. Knowing your surroundings and where crucial hiding spots are is every bit part of the strategy in Hello Neighbor, as is finding a perfect entry point.
Laid out like one big puzzle, certain colored keys unlock specific locks pertaining to that color. Behind each locked door is a crucial item to help turn the favors into your hands. In the first act, for example, players will need to unlock a door which has the switch for an outside elevator which leads you to the second floor. In the opening cut scene, players are shown that the key to unlock the door where the neighbor was seen struggling with his dark secret can be found on the second floor. A series of events and doors will continue to reward the player with their patience in infiltrating their neighbor.
The Ideas Seem Endless
To get into the house, the developers have created a litany of interesting and creative methods. Of course, there’s always the front door, but more often than not, the neighbor will be close to the entrance, or at least in sight. You could always go around the side or the back of the house, throw something heavy through the window and get in that way, but you also risk grabbing the attention of the neighbor from the noise of shattering glass. This, in turn, brings us to the most useful method in infiltration.
Using distractions to gain entry into the neighbors secret house seems to be the best solution. But once you’re inside the house, that is where the real sleuthing begins. The utter suspense of searching for clues, items, keys, or whatever you can get your hands on without being spotted is the driving force behind Hello Neighbor. Discovering secrets the mysterious neighbor wields behind the locked doors grows more in-depth giving the player an actual sense of accomplishment; not simply aimlessly scowering your weird neighbors house because you’re bored.
Though, the initial objective of the game is to sneak into your unknowing neighbors basement, the game opens up its doors well past the entry of the forbidden dungeon. The basement offers a completely new take on the thrill of sneaking without being detected. A maze like structure, the basement shows tons of mysterious hints that shine on the darkness of the dreadful neighbor. I can say, upon starting up Hello Neighbor I was not prepared for the depth found behind the story of our menacing antagonist, and was joyfully surprised after only a relatively short time into the game that these features revealed themselves. All of the sudden I was plunged deep into a riveting tale behind a strange case of child abductions.
On the outside, Hello Neighbor is all about stealth and the suspenseful thrill of that lingering feeling of being caught. While this plays as the main mechanic of the game, the unexpected story line grabs the players attention, further demanding more answers from the house that seems to be flooding with mysteries. Sure, finding secrets passages, keys and tons of other frightening discoveries, all while being shadowed by the sinister resident is at the core of Hello Neighbor, but where many games could have ditched an arousing story to focus on the depth of gameplay, Dynamic Pixel and TinyBuild drafted an excellent combination of both.
While Hello Neighbor may not tend to every gamer’s wants and needs, it’s far from a lackluster experience. Brimming with unsolved mysteries waiting for their discovery, the home of the paranoid neighbor grows more and more interesting as the game progresses. The dreary basement setting and lurking feeling of always being watched is something not many titles have the pleasure of accomplishing this successfully. Hello Neighbor isn’t for everyone, but should be taken as a deep and strategic game full of more than a few surprises around every corner.
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