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Hello Neighbor review for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One


Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also On: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Publisher: tinyBuild
Developer: Dynamic Pixels
Medium: Digital/Cartridge/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

To say my expectations going into Hello Neighbor were low would be an understatement. After all, we’re talking about a game whose PC and Xbox One release last year yielded one of 2017’s lowest Metacritic scores. Surely, I figured, while the game might be bad, it couldn’t be that bad…right?

Boy, was I wrong. In fact, if anything, it might be even worse than I could have anticipated. In almost every conceivable respect, Hello Neighbor is a disaster.

First, though, I’ll concede that there’s one area where it’s not total garbage: its style. When nothing is moving and you’re just looking at still shots, it’s got a nice off-kilter look. It kind of brings to mind something like Double Fine’s Day of the Tentacle or Maniac Mansion, with brightly coloured houses featuring some odd angles. That’s literally the only thing remotely tolerable about Hello Neighbor, but it stands out enough (at least compared to the rest of what you’ll find here) that it merits mentioning.

Mind you, it also merits mentioning that whatever illusion you may have falls apart as soon things start moving around. Get close enough, and you’ll notice that pretty much everything is lacking in detail. You’ll also find yourself limited in what you can actually see up close — Hello Neighbor may be set in a tree-lined suburban neighbourhood, but you soon find out you can only get up close to and inside two homes. Every so often a car will drive by in the distance, but they move so quickly and look so blocky that they’re better described as “cars” than cars. My point, though, is that Hello Neighbor is just an ugly-looking game however you cut it.

When it comes to sheer terribleness, however, the graphics have nothing on the abysmal controls. In theory, you’re supposed to be able to pick objects up and use them to solve environmental puzzles. In practice, you have to press the right shoulder button again and again, from multiple angles and distances, until you finally find a distance and an angle that work. It’s tedious and frustrating, and the fact that you then have to put those same objects back down in a way that’s useful to you only builds on the tedium and the frustration.

One of my other big complaints about Hello Neighbor is that it doesn’t seem to have any coherent system of natural laws or physics — which is a fancy way of saying that glitches abound, and that you never know whether things will react the way you want them to. Once I was just walking along the street, when I bumped into a garbage bag and I got launched all the way down the street. Another time, windows smashed spontaneously, caused by who knows what from who knows where. This is in keeping with the game’s general sense of complete randomness, where sometimes you can toss an object far away, and other times it falls uselessly in front of you.

With so many major issues, it’s sort of a blessing in disguise that Hello Neighbor is only three acts long. After all, that means you don’t have to spend as much time with it as you would if it were full of unnecessary padding.

Still, Hello Neighbor is the kind of awful that doesn’t need much time to make itself obvious. It stinks pretty much from the get-go, and that stench only gets more putrid with every second you spend with the game.

tinyBuild provided us with a Hello Neighbor Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: D-