Hello, Neighbour! | Alpha Build Early Impressions

(Original Article published on Enthusiast Gaming, March 25, 2017)

If there is one constant in the world, it is the over abundance of early-access games that are readily available to us. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, especially when we get absolute gems like ‘Hello, Neighbour’.

‘Hello, Neighbour’ is a stealth-horror game by indie studio tinyBuild games, and it’s unlike anything I’ve played in recent times. The visuals have a surreal, Pixar like effect while the gameplay itself will for sure make you tense all over. If this game has done one thing for me after my two hour play-through, it has taught me not to break into peoples homes, and stay as far away from your neighbours especially if their fashion sense involves sweater vests.

The premise of the game is simple: your creepy as hell neighbour clearly has something disturbing in his basement. It is your duty as the neighbour, to break into his home and figure out what kind of un-holy dark, vomit inducing secret he has hiding. There’s just one problem, the A.I. is smart as hell.

After three horribly failed attempts at exploring the neighbours home, I noticed that he started to predict which entrances I would use or my general approach. At first I would enter the home by setting off an alarm clock and sneaking through the front door; I would generally hide behind his sweet looking old school car and then swoop in when he had his back turned to me. Getting into the house was no problem, but he still ended up finding me. In my next attempt, I decided to do the same tactic again and maybe throw a tomato at the window to get his attention.

As usual I hid behind the car and, oh wait, there’s a bear trap where I would usually hide. Caught in the trap, my lovely neighbour came and took me once again. The artificial intelligence in the game was adapting to my tactics. Every time I made a mistake, the A.I. would take advantage of my missteps by setting up more traps, changing his patrol patterns and even using a security camera system. The A.I. is quite impressive to say the least.

Being an alpha it does have a lot of rough edges that need to be ironed out. Some of the glaring issues I saw were the footstep sounds, some clipping issues and my least favourite, the choppy transitions between the audio that differentiates “normal state” and “this guy is coming to kill the crap out of you”.

What I like about the developers is that I didn’t have to pay for the usual early-access entry fee. Instead I registered for the alpha and got a download link. With that kind of approach to developing their game, I’m pretty much already sold on getting the game when it comes out next year.

What’s here is a compelling horror game that doesn’t rely on intense graphic violence, but instead uses the real-world scenario of a sketchy neighbour to drive the intrigue and tension. I look forward to playing more of this game as it develops, but not right now, it freaked me out a little bit so I think I’ll just end up watching some Netflix for the rest of the day.

For more on their and a chance to play, check out the Hello, Neighbour website.

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