The incredibly popular title Hello Neighbor from tinyBuild showed a strange man that kept dark secrets in his home. While that game was mostly light-hearted with a touch of dark moments and ominous story telling, the prequel title Hello Neighbor: Hide and Seek is the opposite of that. Featuring a story that gets rough only two levels in and steadily gets worse and worse, you can really see why there was such a strange air within the odd neighbors home and why he tried to keep everything a secret.
Taking the role of the sister in this small family of four, you continue to play games with your brother as life seems to be going well. At least until one day your routine is broken and your parents aren’t doing what they would usually be doing at that time. Later you find that your mother has passed and start to watch as your family starts to fall apart. Pure sadness envelopes your father while anger fills your brother, you feel unsure how to help or what you can do to make things right. Doing whatever you think would be best, you allow things to go on until they have gone too far.
With little-to-no explanation, you are thrown into a large room set up to be whatever the current adventure is. Completely set up through the world of the children’s imagination, your game of hide-and-seek quickly becomes a game of collect-and-run.
You are tasked with collecting various items throughout the level and have to do so without getting caught by your brother. For the first level you play as a safari hunter, set out to collect all of your stuffed animals and return them to their basket, meanwhile your brother is a tiger set out to get you whenever he finds you. The second level is a game of cops and robbers where you play as the robber collecting bags of money from various stores while your brother is a cop trying to catch you stealing.
Each level theme changes as you progress and slowly they become darker in style. You will often have to do things that don’t make a lot of sense either, like use an air hydrant to lift yourself high into the air or let yourself get hit by a car so you can go flying to an otherwise unreachable high balcony. While doing odd things to complete these strange collection-type puzzles isn’t out of the ordinary for a Hello Neighbor game, sometimes it can be more confusing and turn the game into mostly guessing.
If you do start to take too long between collecting the next item you are given a hint system. This will prompt a short cut scene, showing the attitude of the brother toward the sister for that given point of the game, and then put a giant arrow on where you need to get to for one of the items. If you still have multiple to collect, they will only show you a couple at a time. You are allotted more than one hint however.
There is also an easy way to get out of an area when you are stuck by calling on a bird friend to simply lift you up and put you back at the starting area. This can be abused a bit when you are being chased as it will force the chase to end, but you will still have to keep your distance in the short amount of time it takes for the crow to reach you.
Probably the most frustrating element is that getting caught by the brother will always make you lose some progress. Unless you haven’t collected much yet that is. When you are caught and have enough of the items collected, the brother will re-hide a handful of the items making you have to back track. However, he doesn’t put them back where they were originally and instead literally re-hides them for you to find.
Graphics and Sounds
The visuals and sound effects used are the same as the original title. A cartoon-like art style fills the place with a broken or Do-It-Yourself style on a lot of the furniture. The only different is that you appear to be really small to majority of the furniture, but this is to give off the fact that you are in a child’s imagination.
Once you have beaten the game, everything will be the same the second go around. There is the idea of allowing yourself to get caught after finding a handful of the items so you can go searching for them again now that they won’t be in the same place. Otherwise, the only reason to come back is to increase how quickly you can complete each level.
What Could Be Better
I did run into a few glitches that made the game even more frustrating than it was. Majority of them are the same issue just with different items. The best example is the gun used in the first level. When I first found it I didn’t know what it was for and so I took it with me, but at a point I needed to grab a key item and ran out of slots so I let the gun fall. I watched it fall and hit the ground so I figured I would come back to it once I dropped off the key items, but unfortunately the gun had completely disappeared. It being a key item needed to complete the level, I found myself stuck at the very end and ended up having to restart that level.
The hint system is nice to have, but with how odd the puzzles are it would have been nice to have some kind of explanation on what to do. The best example of this is, again, in the first level there was a monkey in a tree. The hint system just has an arrow pointing into the branches of the tree and when you get close you can hear the monkey. I tried using the air vents to land on top of the tree or see if it was in the branches for at least ten minutes before I thought “I’ll just shoot him down” which turned out to be exactly what to do.
Hello Neighbor: Hide and Seek features a detailed back story to its original game and really shows the emotions of the family after losing the mother. It is a sad story that is painful to watch unfold, even without dialogue. The puzzles were a bit frustrating to figure out, but once you start to get the hang of it, its a lot of fun to solve. Overall an entertaining game if you can get past the frustrations of its gameplay style.