There's something intriguing about a locked door. What's behind it? What secrets is it hiding? How far would you go to find out? In Hello Neighbor, a stealth horror game being developed by tinyBuild, you'll get to find out. The odd little man who lives across the street from you is clearly hiding something behind a triple-locked door in his house, and it's up to you to completely disregard his right to privacy.
I played a bit of Hello Neighbor's pre-alpha, and attempted to break into my neighbor's house a good twenty or thirty times. My neighbor wasn't super happy about it, and the horror portion of the game comes from his attempts to chase and catch you (when he does, you wake up back at home and can try again). It's a strange little setup, because you're certainly the bad guy, and he has every right to kick you out of his house for snooping without being treated like a monster. But he still feels like a monster and you, though trespassing, are somehow the victim.
While your neighbor doesn't have the logical reaction to your repeated incursions, like calling the police, having you arrested, and filing a restraining order, he definitely does react. Come in through his front door a few too many times, and you might find a bear trap placed in front of it. Break in through a certain window once or twice, and you might find it boarded up the next time. Repeatedly take the same path over his fence or across his driveway and he'll set up a motion sensor that trips an alarm, and keep using the same interior doors and you'll find them blocked by chairs. You won't be running the same routes over and over again, you'll have to find new ones, or at least be far more cautious about using the old ones.
He also moves things around. At one point after I'd slunk into his house—I'd thrown a radio through a window on the far side of the house to draw him over, then slipped in through the front door—I spotted a key in one of the rooms. He grabbed me before I managed to snag it, and the next time I went into his house, the key wasn't there. My next ten or so tries revolved around finding the key again, which I eventually located hanging on the wall in another part of the house. I lost the key again—he was chasing me, I panicked, and threw the key at a window hoping to break it and escape—and found he'd placed it another spot the next time I broke in.
This makes it pretty difficult to plan ahead. Sure, you can distract him and enter the house, but what you're looking for might not be in the place you last saw it, meaning you never really know how each break-in will go.
And, of course, he's not always in the same spot either. While you'll often find him sitting in front of his TV, sometimes he'll be in other rooms when you arrive. One evening he was outside working on his car, sometimes he's around the side of the house, and another time, quite adorably, I found him in his kitchen doing calisthenics.
Sometimes his preparations get in his own way. At one point, he started locking his front doors, meaning I had to stick to other ways of getting in. However, this meant on the days he walked around in his yard, he couldn't get in through his front doors either, preferring instead to pick up a box from his lawn, use it to shatter his living room window, and climb into the house that way. I guess that's a solution—he is getting where he needs to go—but he's saving me the trouble of breaking the window myself.
It's also hard to say how scary the neighbor will remain throughout the game. At first, he's terrifying, lunging at you to the accompaniment of a jangling horror sting. And, there's an extremely alarming sequence that takes place, for a change, in your own house. After a dozen or so times being caught, however, it's not really scary anymore, though it can still definitely be tense, especially the times when I'd found some item to help me with his triple-locked door of mystery and his pursuit was making it difficult to use it.
The pre-alpha is good fun, though. I want to play more once Hello Neighbor is further along in development. I disabled two of the three door locks, but still haven't found a way to handle the third. And damn it, I want to know what's in there! Maybe I am the true monster in all this, just a lousy snoop who can't leave well enough alone.
But he's no angel either. Dude owns a dozen bear traps and he's always wearing shiny black gloves. He's definitely up to something.