Halloween has come and gone, but horror games never go out of season. The first Alpha of tinyBuild’s Hello Neighbor released last week, and it promises to bring some impressive new changes to the genre, from the premise right down to the color pallet. No rainy woods and dying flashlights here””just a curious stroll through your neighbor’s house.
You’re new to the neighborhood, but even you can tell there’s something weird about your mustachioed neighbor. After taking some time to settle in, you notice something unbelievable coming from your neighbor’s basement””something you just have to see for yourself! Unfortunately, your neighbor’s a bit of a recluse and isn’t interested in visitors; you only need to check a few rooms to figure out why. It’s too late to turn back now, so steal what you can and make your way to that basement door. Just don’t let your neighbor spot you; otherwise, you’ll end up taking a nice long dirt nap.
While Hello Neighbor sticks to some of the horror game staples (ominous music when the neighbor’s looking for you, a frenzied song when you’re spotted), it takes some left turns that really make it stand out. The most obvious feature is the game’s commitment to cartoon physics; a trolley rings through (and outside) the third floor, an entire room is flooded with a shark swimming in it, even the basement cut scene seems like something out of Looney Tunes.
There are some other qualities that help lean the game closer to a goofy horror flick, like the bright colors and the option to explore the house in daylight, but it’s never quite enough to keep the player from finding the neighbor hilarious. Despite his funhouse and handlebar mustache, your neighbor still does things like dig a grave in his house and recreates a nursery with mannequins; he’s clearly deranged, and he won’t let you live if you’re caught.
Unfortunately, it seems Hello Neighbor is far from finished. The game has a nasty habit of crashing, and the neighbor’s AI likes to glitch out and freezes in bizarre places, allowing the player to explore the house unthreatened. The third and fourth floors are unavailable in this Alpha, as is the game’s objective, which means the player’s options are considerably limited. That being said, purchasing the Alpha helps to fund tinyBuild’s project and guarantees you’ll receive later models along with the final game.
In the end, Hello Neighbor is an ambitious turn from the traditional horror game, and it could become an incredibly entertaining game if it can live up to its promises. The developers have high hopes that the AI will soon be able to learn and counter your entry strategies, and with new features like bear traps and security cameras thrown in the mix, the house could become a serious challenge. Whatever’s in that basement, it better be worth the trouble!