Sunday, December 9

Review: Hello Neighbor - Hide and Seek [Nintendo Switch eShop]


When games come along that I struggle mightily with on multiple levels it puts me in a difficult spot. On the one hand I’d like to be able to give some benefit of doubt to the developers behind titles and be sure their efforts aren’t being ignored or going unappreciated. Even titles that can seem awful to some find an audience with some niche somewhere. However, given my responsibility to gamers looking to spend their money wisely when I run into things that aren’t fun to play even when I’m looking for silver linings I can’t gloss that over. I was frustrated with Hello Neighbor and its ambiguity in what you were supposed to be doing the majority of the time, its pretty iffy physics implementation, and just its general state not feeling well thought out. With the promise that we’d find out the secret behind the Neighbor’s angry and odd demeanor with the prequel, Hide and Seek, I was hoping somehow a new direction would improve things. If anything I’d say this result is even more aggravating than the original.



While I chose the video above to show a little bit of progression at the very beginning I won’t lie, I spent a solid 20 minutes before what you see there simply poking around the inside of the house trying to get reacquainted with the controls and exploring possibilities in the few rooms that are there because I couldn’t figure out how to open the one unlocked door you need to go through. There’s no tutorial, nothing to introduce the controls or the concept behind the game. You see the little cut scene, the brother begins counting, and now are you supposed to try to hide? Quickly? I actually put stacked some boxes to try to get up high but that was a mess, so I then closed myself behind some near the father hoping that would work. Nothing. He just keeps counting and still no prompt. I then tried all of the doors and this time went right through, though I still stopped to check on the one room before opening the second one which just happened to be what the game wanted me to do so I could proceed. The ambiguity from that point doesn’t get any less perplexing, if anything it gets worse.


So this title has really taken the same flawed and funky physics system where the concept of gently putting down an object is only possible on a somewhat random basis, you otherwise throw it as hard as you can even when you just tap the button. Where the first game at least was generally in an enclosed space where you could see different elements and try to make some weird sense of what you may want to do instead in the first scene you’ll walk into a weirdly proportioned space where you seem very small. As always there’s no direction of what your goal is, what you should be trying to do, you’re just apparently trying to hide from your roaming brother and do something to progress. Should you be picking up objects? Actually trying to find a hiding place somewhere? Why can he see you in tall grass or underwater? Even if I knew what I was doing I think I’d find it all clunky but while I might be able to look up a walkthrough or something to tell me what to do I want to stick with the game experience just as it is and after a few hours I just threw up my hands.


I really hope that the Hello Neighbor franchise, at this point, can be put to pasture. Yes, the visual style of things and the look of the Neighbor himself is sort of unusual and he’s creepy. I get it. However, while that may work for marketing purposes these aren’t so much meticulously planned games as collections of 3D assets thrown into an environment without having much concern with an enjoyable or meaningful experience. Perhaps they’re hoping people could have fun despite the shortcomings of the product but I’m here to tell you there are too many great games on Switch to be spending your time playing this.

Score: 3.5

Pros:

  • Still that signature off-kilter look and the slightly less creepy pre-angry Neighbor
  • If you’re truly fascinated with how the Neighbor got to the point he was at in the first game this is supposed to tell you, or you could just save some frustration and look it up


Cons:

  • A total lack of direction on what you’re trying to do from the original game is even worse here without the constraints of more enclosed spaces
  • The same funky and janky physics from the first game where manipulating objects with any care or subtlety is almost an impossibility
  • Just in general the controls and doing everything is a matter of trial and error and the gameplay design is an utter mess