PREVIEW: Hello Neighbor

How about inverted home invasion, or Burglar Simulator 2017 in which you are the bandit tasked to enter the house of an innocent citizen that just happened to be the unlucky neighbor in front of you when you moved in? Or maybe that neighbor is not so innocent, he is suspiciously protective of his basement door. Well, if he had nothing to hide, he should not complain if we take a tour of his house.

Steam: Alpha

Developer: Dynamic Pixels

Publisher: tinyBuild

Genre: Infiltration, Horror

Release date: Summer 2017

Type: Single-player

Hello Neighbor is a breeze of fresh air. Indeed, it’s not every day that you see an original new concept. The house acts as a playground to infiltrate in first person, while the neighbor is a vigilant AI that learns the patterns of the player. You like to use the back door? Next time you will find a chair barring the door, or even a bear trap. Your neighbor is not taking security lightly! He will use anything short of gunning you down, so you should at least feel lucky. Except if you fall in his pool, there might be a shark lurking around. The game does not take itself seriously, the Pixar art-style is very fitting while being very pretty. At times to times, there are weird cut-scenes or dream sequences that make you wonder who the neighbor really is.

To reach the (current) final objective of opening the basement door, the player has to figure out how to remove wooden planks, and find a key to the lock. Exploring the house is the way to go, ransacking drawers in the process. In the current alpha build there are additional puzzles to figure out, but at the moment they do not lead to anything. Still, until I was done with the game I went through jump scares, fear, tension, wonder and laughs.

The developer Dynamic Pixels and publisher tinyBuild opted for a very open development process, as they send the alphas both to the press and the players. This is much to their honor, and it seems to have garnered a lot of interest in the game. This means that there are exciting times ahead, as each build of the game will be an interesting piece in and of itself, and a separate entity from the game which will be full of new surprises.

This open development will also be useful to iron out the issues with the game, such as the usual bugs and glitches. I have managed to get the neighbor stuck in a room quite a few times. The most important thing to solve will be the difficulty. A neighbor too aware of the player and too quick will make the game a nightmare to play, and a neighbor too soft will not give much challenge. Furthermore, as time goes by there are more and more traps and cameras, so restarting the game becomes an easy way to clean the house from all the obstacles.

As a proof of concept, mission accomplished. So far the game is really fun, mysterious and interesting. I had a great time with it, and I am already looking forward to the next update. However even though the game is full of promise, it remains to be seen if the complete product will hold the length.

Please note that the screenshots above are those provided by Steam, however the game is played entirely in first person as you can see in the videos below.

Here is a video of the build called Alpha 1:

Since this article has been published, the game has been update with Alpha 2:

And then Alpha 3:

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November 2016

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