By Danyel Poindexter, Staff Writer
If your ideal genre of movies includes films like “Disturbia” or other intense, anxiety-built thriller forms of media, then you might want to keep your eye out for “Hello Neighbor.” “Hello Neighbor” features a first-person gameplay in which the player has just moved into a brand new suburb and notices the oddity of their neighbor across the road. He appears to be hiding something in his basement. Of course, the only ‘logical’ thing to do about it is break into his house and figure out what he is hiding. The hype surrounding this game was so intense that the moment the pre-alpha release was available, people could not download it fast enough, and the server crashed. Though the game does not officially release on PC until the summer of 2017, the pre-alpha release is currently available and ready for download.
Developed by Dynamic Pixels and produced by tinyBuild, “Hello Neighbor” is a stealth horror indie game that embodies strategy and adventure. The Pixar-style and retro design may take some players back to the “Jimmy Neutron” days, with its wide usage of colors and animation, but “Hello Neighbor” has more sharp edges and less child-like architecture. Besides the fact that any horror game being in first-person perspective adds to the creepy meter, this game holds a very nostalgic, lonely atmosphere no matter the lighting setting. It is full of other neighboring houses but still pulls away from the use of any NPC neighbors, creating a somewhat imaginative environment in which it is only you and the neighbor. Add in the piercing sounds of the outside insects, the creaking of doors, the thumping of footsteps, and the intense strike of music when the neighbor spots you, and you have a pretty well developed first-person thriller.
The mere concept that the player suspects their new neighbor and finds achievement in breaking into his house introduces a justifiable idea that the player might just be as suspicious of the character as the neighbor. The consistent nightmares that haunt the player when they lose, combined with that neurotic feeling, could make people question who the apprehensive person really is in this game. A retaliation from the neighbor is understandable. Are we meant to believe he is the bad guy, or is it really us? Unfortunately, the fact that this is a pre-alpha release makes the underlining subject matter unclear. By the summer of 2017, there could be many updates and changes—such as different opening credits or courses to take when navigating around the house.
Besides “Hello Neighbor” being an extremely tense gameplay, I commend Dynamic Pixels for their use in the AI. It analyzes all the decisions and movements the player has previously made and comes up with counter-attacks and unique tactics for capturing them—such as bear traps or throwing tomatoes. Without the intensive intelligence of the AI., the entire embodiment of this game would be lost to repetitive movements, trials, and incidents that could easily be avoided by a simple restart of the game. The player can also use the neighbor’s traps against him, but they still need to watch out for his hiding places. He will try different ways to cut you off in order to capture you faster.
At this time the company is not announcing any console plans for the summer release, but it is pleasing to hear that the game is currently set on a PC platform—something universal for those who signed up for the pre-alpha release.
Remember, the main goal of this entire game is to get into the neighbor’s basement and reveal whatever kind of secret he is hiding. The more mistakes you make, the more experienced the neighbor becomes. For its state of difficulty in understanding what you can and cannot use, it is best recommended to watch the short unedited pre-alpha release of the gameplay or, if it better suits you, learn as you go by not making blunt and obvious decisions. “Hello Neighbor,” so far, is an insightfully-crafted horror game that, while unoriginal, undeniably takes a new spin on the term “thriller.”