Developer/publisher tinyBuild returns to Hello Neighbor over five years after the first game – how does Hello Neighbor 2 change the formula? We played it on a PlayStation 5 to find out.
Despite a rather lukewarm critical reception for the first game, Hello Neighbor became somewhat of a modern cult classic over time, embraced in particular on social media through content creators. It explains why a sequel took a while, as it must not have been on top of the ideas list initially but the game’s growing popularity must have made tinyBuild reconsider.
Hello Neighbor’s rare breed of a family-friendly type of horror experience carries over to the sequel, where you play the role of Quentin, an investigative journalist who’s after some of the secrets that the residents of Raven Brooks are hiding. Antagonist Mr. Peterson from the first game also returns, though there’s a bigger scope this time around, with more of the town ready to be investigated.
In a nutshell, the gameplay of Hello Neighbor and its sequel is a mix of hide and seek/stealth mechanics and puzzles. Of course all of that ties into the rumors about Mr. Peterson surrounding some of the missing kids from the town – an investigative situation in which you don’t want to get caught. You’re not just checking out the Peterson residence though – you’re also going to snoop around in the houses of other high profile residents, like cops who might know more about what went on.
And while that sounds like a scenario for a downright creepy film, Hello Neighbor is presented with a cartoon-like visual style and isn’t especially scary beyond the dynamic of not wanting to get caught. It’s a simple concept, but it works and the investigative elements keep you wanting to push on. It’s not all good news though, because Hello Neighbor 2’s campaign is relatively short despite it bigger game world, and many of its puzzles are of the same or a very similar variety to the ones found in the first game. New puzzle mechanics are rare, which is a missed opportunity as the central concept lends itself very well to it.
Other elements of the game are in need of a little polish, as the AI sometimes feels a bit too easy to trick, briefly breaking the immersion and suspense. That can probably be fixed with a post-launch patch though, making the game’s relative lack of content the bigger issue. And when we say relative, we’re also pointing towards the game’s AA price point, especially if you get the additional DLC for it. At half the price, this would be fun little stealth/sleuthing romp. As it stands now, it comes up a little short, but if you were into the first game you’ll certainly take to this one as well.