Indie publisher tinyBuild had a huge presence at PAX South, showing off a massive number of games in their 2017 slate. I had the chance to try out a few of them, starting with current Youtube darling Hello Neighbor. What was there to expect, no clue since would be my first time playing the game. Well let’s dig into the hands-on shall we while I was at PAX South 2017!
Hello Neighbor practically needs no introduction. With over 100 million views of its youtube videos, it’s already garnered massive interest and each new build brings new playthroughs and theories from well known Youtubers such as Markiplier and Game Theorists. I’d known about Hello Neighbor for a while from precisely these sources, but PAX South was my first time diving into the game myself.
For the unfamiliar, Hello Neighbor places you in the shoes of the leader of the neighborhood HOA (Editor’s Note: No it doesn’t, you’re just projecting) with a new neighbor across the street who’s clearly Up To Something. And that laundry hung out on a visible clothesline MUST be in violation of some HOA bylaw or another, right?
The cartoony graphics are deceptive, lulling you into a false sense of security. “Oh, this game is so cute, what could possibly be so scary?” I was thinking as I slipped on the headphones. Then I rang the doorbell.
As I sprinted to hide across the street, my avatar’s heart pounding in my ears, and vision narrowed, I understood that a huge part of what makes Hello Neighbor so frightening is its sound design. The beating of your heart when the neighbor gets close, the slam of a door from somewhere in the house where you don’t belong, the TV being turned on or off in another room; without the audio cues the game is sort of a cutesy-wootsy stealth FPS. With the audio cues, it’s transformed into a terrifying full sensory experience.
As it turns out, I am TERRIBLE at stealth-action FPS horror, and Hello Neighbor does not easily suffer failure. I was far too aggressive in my searches of the house. The reward for my efforts was to be tossed out of my neighbor’s house again and again, until, finally, he had enough. I was buried in a shallow grave in the backyard, never to be heard from again.
Hello Neighbor is currently in Early Alpha, and is expected to be released in Summer 2017.