Secret Neighbor Review
Secret neighbor is a new game from Dynamic Pixels and TinyBuild that gives the eerie vibes that adrenaline junkies of games like Dead by Daylight would enjoy. This game is a follow up to the hyped up "Hello Neighbor" or "Hello Neighbour" for those of you overseas. Hello Neighbor was all about finding your way through the map, solving puzzles, and avoiding a mysterious man with an even more mysterious basement hiding all the goodies that we cannot see. This, paired with a psychological view on how the Neighbor possibly lost his family and is trying to bring them back to life as the most popular theory branching from the game suggests, was a horror delight for fans of the genre.
Secret Neighbor starts us off on a screen that reminds me of how a Dead by Daylight would be if it were kids instead of grown scared adults. There isn't much for the alpha, but there is cosmetics you can get to spruce up your little daring adventurer with hints of an upcoming Neighbor customization. From here the other modes are "Find Match" and of course "Custom Match". I found the menus to be surprisingly navigable despite custom match not wanting to load in the searching mechanism correctly.
Finding matches were easy aside from a few pains. This was expected for Alpha. There were a few bad apples in the bunch who'd wait the entire time and leave after a good few minutes, but this review isn't about the community. The loading times were a little longer but not that bad. It was faster than Just Cause 3 so that gets a win in my book. The voice chat also seems to work somewhat decently and has a few inconsistencies that can be heard from the top floor even though the speaker is on the bottom.
Getting into the match, the objective is to find a set number of keys for different colors. I was finding myself snooping in drawers, fridges, shelves, cupboards, even in his greenhouse room in a very unsafe attic. I was mainly the child, and I could also throw things at other children and accuse them of being the neighbor. I often found myself with two to three locks unlocked before the neighbor can find me. Aside from the alpha server lag, I actually had an enjoyable experience running from a kid who somehow can grow double his size with a full mustache. He went full try hard mode there. It was surprising how much there was around the house to throw at each other, even a gun so you can insta-kill anyone of your choosing. The main problem is that there is no real penalty for trying to kill your teammates regardless. I could grab a chair and a flashlight and just keep throwing until they are downed. Holding E on them turns them usually into a pile of "Child Missing" papers. The way this works feels a lot like Deceit but more polished and without blood bags.
After around 20 rounds of me getting extremely unlucky and unable to be the neighbor, I finally got him! And well, it was both satisfying and disappointing. I had chosen the pumpkin power and the scanner. I got into the match and immediately started to look at people like they are suspicious. I immediately got trust from someone and unlocked one of the keys on the basement door. I quickly ventured off the beaten path and began to pick everyone off one by one. In the background all I could hear was "RedWater? Where are you?" And eventually all who trusted me was killed, all within 5 minutes. It was a short but sweet victory, that I wish could be more of a chance than just randomized. I enjoy being the neighbor much more than a survivor.
The graphics of this game are on par with the likes of other indie games. It has a cartoonish vibe like Fortnite, and Borderlands. I didn't see many graphical errors for an alpha game, which is surprising to say the least. It is an upgrade from Hello Neighbor in my honest opinion.
A major issue with this game is that there is no anti-cheat just yet, I watched someone go into the ground and let us escape that way. This was only in one match though, so I can live past that, I just feel the game should have an anti-cheat in place to catch these cheaters.
The gameplay mechanics are like Hello Neighbor in a sense that you can stack, climb, pick up, and throw things except now you can become the neighbor. I found the mechanics to work well with the environment given, but I wish they made jumping slightly higher. I get they are kids, but they should have a little more energy than me.
Overall, I feel the game could, and should get bigger as it ticks off all my boxes except for queueing as the neighbor. I had an overall great experience, but it does need queueing together for a more deceptive experience.
Josh "RedWater" Culbertson is a Free Lance writer and is a game enthusiast, favoring the 3D Action Platformer genre.