Neighbors tend to be on friendly terms.
They are, after all, the people you see every morning, before going out on errands, to attend school, or to commute to work. For the most part, you tend to stay out of each other’s business, and rightly so. What if, though, one day, you saw one of them securing his parameters and barricading the entry points into his home?
Wouldn’t you want to know why?
That's the premise that developer Dynamic Pixels brings us with Hello Neighbor, an upcoming horror game with elements of stealth, where the player must sneak into his psychopathic neighbor’s house, without getting caught.
Yes, you're a nosy neighbor, and like all nosy neighbors, your objective is to dig into personal matters that ought not to concern you in the first place. This is also a video game, meaning this troubling reality of suburban life can and has been taken to its extreme.
Breaking and entering.
So, you'll unlock the basement door and find out just what the heck your neighbor is hiding. You'll have to be smart, and use to your advantage the game's environment, or in other words, your neighbor's property.
Getting your bearings and having a good memory is essential to reaching your objectives. Troubling situations and other pitfalls require you to make good use of the environment and all its subtleties. AI support accompanies you, and the double-edged features in the demo are promising: not only does it track where you go and advise you how to get there, it also feeds the suspicious nature of your rival, the neighbor.
To catch you, he'll be setting up traps, and each trip you make is consequently more exciting and challenging. Once his triggers, traps, and wonky devices are set in motion, it's up to you to counter them with a sophisticated arsenal: vases, boxes, and flower pots.
Anything that could give the advantage...
If Dynamic Pixels completes Hello Neighbor skillfully, they'll be smart enough not to sacrifice the finesse and complexity we seek in and expect from stealth mechanics. Thankfully, early signs point to the fact that they are heading in the right direction.
Now the game is still in very early stages of development, and its release isn't due until 2017. It thus has many bugs and glitches, but in light of the short experience at hand, we at OpNoobs are wholly forgiving.
You see, Hello Neighbor shows much much promise.
Its premise and its gameplay, showcased through a pre-alpha demo that indie-publisher-on-steroids tinyBuild adventured into sharing with gaming press, serves as a stellar example of the creative contribution indie studios can bring to an otherwise recipe-based industry.
On top of Hello Neighbor being original, its engaging in gameplay. It's also visually appealing, loaded with humor, and atmospheric. That's the kind of release that, after all, is always welcomed by most PC gamers, cross-genre confounded.
There's more to it.
Here is a title that, in many ways, is a parody of games from a genre primarily driven by the Hollywood-type and other similar archetypes: CIA SuperAgents, decked-out protagonists of the distant future. With Hello Neighbor, the contrast is stark. Its characters feel personal; they are replicas of people we've all come to know, in real life.
That's why Hello Neighbor comes off as an experience that is as humorous as it anchors itself on a critical observation of America's suburban life. It's a satirical commentary of daily living, exaggerated to highlight our oddity as average human beings, on top of creating, of course, playable mechanics. In short, an experience for people like you and me, one we can all relate to, whether we might be the shady type, the law-abiding citizen, or the simply nosy.