Hello Neighbor 2 has arrived five years after the original caused a cataclysmic meltdown on the internet. Reddit fan theories were sent into overdrive and YouTube was inundated with all sorts of story breakdowns and explanations. The community scrupulously analysed each and every pixel of this game, right down to the fibres on Mr Peterson’s swanky sweater vest, even though the story wasn’t as grand as some made it out to be. While this sequel still has a relatively thin plot, the gameplay and story vagueness are noticeably more straightforward.
Clear Paths Ahead
Gone are the outrageous, no-one-would-ever-think-of-this solutions that plagued it’s predecessor (those box-stacking sections were a particular pain). Instead, the puzzles feel a lot more intuitive and give players just enough visual hints to figure out the answer, even if the story doesn’t offer much in the process. Since hardly anything is explained—besides the fact that you’re an investigative journalist named Quentin searching for missing children—it can be a bit jarring for first-timers to break into each neighbour’s elaborate establishments for clues.
Unlike the original however, it’s a lot more streamlined here, as the layouts of each area are equally satisfying and thought-provoking enough to overcome. The ability to climb on objects, approach certain puzzles in different ways and scout out the various landmarks of Raven Brooks using a drone or by peeking through cracks/vents in a wall is much welcomed. The neighbours’ AI can also be manipulated by smashing a window or stepping on objects in the environment, like a squeaky toy inside of a house. These distractions allow Quentin to hide inside a closet or make a detour by rounding corners for a hasty getaway, for example.
Overall, the AI has mostly been improved and become more adaptable. This forces players to vary up their stealth approach, as the neighbours normally adjust to recent break-in attempts and actively try to thwart any further shenanigans. They’ll either set traps, board up doors and windows, take new walking routes, anticipate your escape plan or use a combination of all four. It is somewhat tense at first to break into a neighbour’s house and solve puzzles under pressure. But since players only lose items that can all too quickly be regained, the once looming threat soon fizzles out to a quiet whimper.
The Zany Streets of Raven Brooks
While Hello Neighbor 2 is touted as a ‘family-friendly horror game’, being chased after by dogs and an old coot with a shotgun doesn’t exactly get the adrenaline pumping. Albeit, the upgraded graphics, Pixar-like visual design, jumbled-up letters and general kookiness do go a long way in keeping the atmosphere unsettling. That being said, there’s still a stupid amount of bugs and AI glitches which sour the show. Falling through the floor after opening a door? Check. Neighbours that can’t see after you flee? Double check.
If players purchase the Digital Deluxe version, they’ll gain instant access to 3 DLC chapters that each take place in distinctly unique locations. While they do inject some freshness into the game’s 3-4 hour runtime, they can’t be saved to a separate slot. You’ll have to complete these extra chapters in one sitting, otherwise, it’s right back to square one. They’re not particularly long, around 15-40 minutes or so, but just be warned in case you’re jumping in for a quick gaming sesh.
For those who love breaking into houses and solving puzzles under pressure, Hello Neighbor 2 might just be for you. Compared to the original, this new entry is a lot less vague in terms of story and gameplay, saving players from overanalyzing each and every minute detail of it’s presentation. There are some bugs and glitches which absolutely flub the atmosphere, and the horror ambience does lose it’s lustre fairly quickly. However, Hello Neighbor 2 still makes for a fairly satisfying experience that is deserving of at least one full playthrough.
By Anthony Culinas – Reviewed on PC
Hello Neighbor 2 is a big step up from the original in more ways than one. Puzzles feel more intuitive, neighbour AIs act smarter, the story is easier to follow and the graphics are admirably stylised. While some of the original’s issues are still present, like the paper-thin plot or immersion-breaking bugs and glitches, the game is still worth playing for those who love environmental puzzles or enjoyed the first entry in the series.
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