What you’ll see is a progression of work that I’ve been collecting for a few months now. In collaboration with the folks over at Tiny Build, who were kind enough to give us a pre-alpha build of the upcoming and now insanely new fad game since Five Nights at Freddie’s, called “Hello, Neighbor!”. I met up with Tiny Build at PAX South this past weekend and they were kind enough to straighten out some of the holes that I had encountered during the four testing phases of the game. Yes, I said that right. There were four testing phases for “Hello, Neighbor!”.
Do you know your neighbors well, or even at all? Have you ever even met them? Did you go out of your way to make them a Jello platter or pasta, welcoming to the community? Maybe have them over to the residence for a pleasant spread of cheese and wine, and slowly after into the night as the both of you become more hazed into an alcoholic stupor, come to find that your pleasantries of trying to get to know this particular stranger is simply forfeit as you both share nothing in common except that one day you’ll probably have that brash knock on the door with exclamations that your grass is too long on his side of the fence and you need to do something about it or he’ll get those Nazi-esque people that run the homeowner’s association to breath down his neck until you do something about it? Upon your arrival into a brand new venture unseen before to you or anyone, being the new resident to anywhere can be like moving to hell. . . well it may at least feel awkward as hell. In the upcoming joint project from Tiny Build, “Hello Neighbor” is a Peeping Tom simulator dream/nightmare on the scales reaching from just out of the norm, to completely insane.
Meet the “Man Across the Street”. He’s fancy, awkward, and he has no name. Many of the homeowners that live around him, have brewed stories of the man quite odd in comparison to the un-normal life he actually lives, or so I would assume that is how they view him. This dapper gent’s home is one to gaze at however as it derives straight from a twisted Hitchcock era conglomerate, mashed with its truer to bizarre setting. The Man’s home is a wacky mesh of infinite doors (perhaps literally), traps, puzzles, and the odd, suspicious looking graves that lay either outside or inside the house itself. Heck this dude is beyond cray-cray. He built a literal mini train, like the kind kids ride around at a Pumkin Patch, through the top floor of his house. Its safe to say that the man is a wee bit more eccentric then the typical norm.
The pre-alpha build was given to me in early October or late September, and right off the bat I was able to feel actual dread the very first time I booted up the game. Whether it was in the spirit of Halloween or me just listening and watching too many spooky things as of late, I was very… cautious, during my first few hours of play. Okay, I was pretty much a big fat chicken about it. In any case, I made sure to take my time and absolutely absorb myself into the life of a stalker who is way to nosy about his damn neighbor.
Alpha 1 is available on steam for anyone who wishes to mess around with it and I’d like to personally recommend playing it home alone at night with your headphones on. The horrifying music that ensues when you aren’t so stealthy, because you suck, is quite the tantalizing moment to hold, and creates such a memory that the newest builds, don’t quite live up to. With this update, the house is at its most basic state. Creepy pictures of The Man having an intense staring contest with some other dude hang just about all over the walls in his home, and the strange behaviors he exhibits whilst walking around his residence, just add to the creep factor. Because of buggy programming, The Man can often be seen smashing through windows of his own home, just to get back inside if the AI senses something as little as a beartrap, which he had placed earlier before, blocking his way through the open front door. He is very prone to noises of alarms and even the ringing of your own telephone all the way on the other side of the street in the safety of your own place. Your safest course of action as the new guy is to just hide under your own bed and alt-f4 out of the game because there’s no quit button and you’re pretty much screwed anyway. The most enjoyable, yet total WTF moment are the random encounters that can occur if the Man ever catches you. Where you will regularly respawn in your room, without the reset of the dreading music of pursuit, which will leave you scrambling together to find a place to hide. Suddenly your friendly neighbor appears at your window, except he is 100 times his normal size. Panic turns into chaos, and you shit your pants. This build was probably the most
In Alpha 1, we pretty much just get more questions. The puzzles are more insane, including some weird shark thing on the 2nd floor of the house, and random ghost children that throw shit at you when you’re trying to solve math problems. The horrifying music stayed around, but switches up slightly and the Neighbor is ultimately just a dick, but the Sandbox feature to the game for the most part stuck around. One thing of note, you can actually see the original Neighbor’s house, from behind your own house, down what looks to be a different street. So to sum it up, bigger house, more puzzles, and an actual ending!
This past weekend was PAX South 2017, where I finally got a bit of clarification of the different builds of the game. Apparently what I had thought was Alpha 1, was actually the pre-alpha build to Alpha 1. All the mechanics were there, but there were a few differences from the pre-alpha build that I had thought had originally been introduced in Alpha 2. I was presented with a convention build demo of what I was told was a version of Alpha 2 while I was on the floor of the convention. The game, while it played similar to the current version, was split up into two parts; story mode, what I would like to call progression mode, or Instant Action. Story mode was a progression version of the game where, following a cinematic of your character’s move into town, you quite literally are just moving your stuff from your car, into your new home. The objective gets a bit more complicated than that however, as you are following notes and clues posted all over the house and yard, on how one might get inside the house. When you are finished taking off the boards that are nailed into the front door, you can use a key that is found somewhere around to open up the house and move the boxes in. The progression mode is basically an exploration challenge. It allows you to search around the house and area for a bunch of different items to unlock different areas of the one yard. Sadly I wasn’t ever able to find the key to the outhouse, but I was able to move in and get comfortable as the demo came to an end.
The next portion of the demo, labeled as instant action, is more horror portion of the full game, giving you just a taste of how horrifying it is to be an intruder into someone else’s home who just might be a serial killer. While I didn’t get a chance to do the 2nd portion of the demo, I pretty much got the gist of what was happening in it. After I got my hand in playing the Alpha 2 version I somehow skipped during my time in the Alpha, I got to speak with Luke Burtis and another man who I knew as Alex, who both work on the game and its production over at Tiny Build. As I tried desperately to try to get some sort of Story spoilers out of them, without any luck doing so mind you, I was able to come out of the interview with a few details worth mentioning. The first thing worth mentioning, would be that the hero may not be the hero. Let’s face it, we may be the bad guy in this situation as we are the person breaking into another man’s home and rifling through all his belongings to find our way into another, stranger, place within his house that probably no one else was ever to see. They were able to tell me that about the next time we might see an update, may be a while down the way, as they are working on something, but it isn’t going to be ready just yet.
One final note. I emailed Luke earlier today and with a single response as I wanted to know the inspiration for the game. His response was somewhat troubling. “The inspiration is part personal life and how Europeans seem to think American suburbs are like. ;)” I’m not sure what frightens me more. Did the creator decide that he was done spying on his neighbors by rummaging through their belongings because he found something absolutely horrifying or did someone invade his own privacy?
Alpha 3 finally adds a spice to that of a complete game finally coming together. While there are more frustrating things about the game, I found that without being able to glitch the man into a wall, I would be unable to complete the entire build, however, to much avail I achieved such a feat. The third build is probably the most story driven build that we’ve gotten and to not spoil anything, it shows us more of the man then we may have not seem to notice was much there. In fact, at the end, you almost feel sorry for him, but it still leaves you wondering what you feel sorry for. Questions even arise, in his wacky play house, of the man’s past and future. Things that I could see being huge plot points in builds to come or even the final build which is slated for more this year. Alex from Tiny build made it clear to me, as vague as he was, that who is it to say that the Man is the antagonist of the game. Are we the bad guy? Time will only tell.