Hello Neighbor is finally out and it’s not good at all. While the concept is intriguing, the overall execution is flawed and frustrating. As someone who watched popular YouTube influencers and Twitch streamers play the game throughout the various alpha builds, I was ready to experience the full game. Unfortunately, I was left underwhelmed. I spent hours over the past year consuming Hello Neighbor content and enjoyed every minute of it. How could I possibly hate the final product? I have a theory! Let’s dive in.
Over the past few years, live streaming and “Let’s Plays” have become mainstream. There are hundreds, if not thousands of people on YouTube, Twitch, and Mixer, who are making video game content for people to watch. “Let’s Plays” are quite possibly the most popular type of video content (which also includes collectible guides and traditional walkthroughs as well.) Take a look at some of the bigger channels on YouTube. Among popular influencers (as of the time this article was published), there’s Markiplier with 19,153,909 subscribers, Jacksepticeye with 17,467,323 subscribers, and Pewdiepie, one of the most famous personalities, with 58,787,387 subscribers. Even smaller channels like Achievement Hunter (1,443,665 subscribers), Funhaus (1,265,489 subscribers), and Kinda Funny Games (229,350) do Let’s Play videos for popular games.
Each of these channels are frequently updated, with countless videos, full of hysterical antics and cleverly edited comedic bits, along with gameplay. My first exposure to Hello Neighbor was actually through a Game Theory video, where MatPat talked about what the game could potentially be about. Since there were various alpha builds, the story was kept under wraps. Videos like the ones on this channel kept me fascinated with Hello Neighbor. I enjoyed watching Markiplier and Funhaus play the game, scream when the neighbor found them, and then laugh when a humorous glitch appeared on the screen.
I’m not much of a PC player. So, since Hello Neighbor wasn’t initially announced for consoles, I lived vicariously through these influencers. After spending hours watching alpha videos, I felt connected to the game. When it was announced that Tiny Build would be bringing the anticipated horror game to Xbox One, the thought of finally infiltrating the neighbor’s house got me excited. When I booted up the game for the first time, I felt prepared. All the YouTube videos I watched over the past year gave me the appropriate skills I needed to succeed. After playing for a few minutes, my excitement turned to frustration and anger.
Hello Neighbor isn’t a particularly gamer friendly experience. The control scheme is confusing, the physics are wonky, and the titular neighbor often feels overpowered. Even when distracting the neighbor, he always appears to be wherever your character is. For example, I was on the second-floor awning of the building during the first act. I stacked five boxes on top of each other and made my way towards a second-floor window. The music ramped up as the neighbor noticed my maneuvers. He technically shouldn’t be able to reach me because the windows were closed, but suddenly, he traversed from the lawn to the second-floor awning IN ONE JUMP. I mean, he used superhuman jumping to reach me. There’s no way that something like this should happen.
Later in that chapter, I found myself in the basement. After navigating through the darkened halls, the neighbor made a startling appearance. I was backed into a corner and inevitably captured by the fiendish man. I respawned at a checkpoint but was met with an unpleasant sight. The neighbor was right at the window I needed to exit. Guess what? He didn’t move. He was stuck there, and I couldn’t do a thing. I tried to make a run for it, but when I jumped through the window, he suddenly regained the ability to chase me until I lost. After 2 hours of trying to exit a simple window, I restarted the game.
The second attempt at playing the game proved to be a better experience. I made it through the dangerous basement in Act 1 and then eventually made it to Act 3. During a section, while I was on a roller coaster, my character glitched through the vehicle. Suddenly, the “key items” I needed for my objective exited my inventory and became stuck to a wall. I couldn’t pick up the items and the game autosaved. Once again, I found myself out of luck.
On the third attempt playing Hello Neighbor, I finally finished the campaign. As the credits rolled, I found myself underwhelmed. After more than a year of consuming Hello Neighbor videos, the end result left me feeling drained, upset, and robbed. I spent hours laughing with popular YouTubers, as they were met with glitches and various scares from the terrifying neighbor. I know influencers often edit videos, so we get to see the funniest, and best clips that they come across. Now I wonder if the game was just terrible, to begin with.
Hello Neighbor is a game that could have been great. The hype leading up to its release made me believe that the final product would be another fantastic entry in the independent horror scene. Instead, I was left with the most disappointing game of the year. There are hardly any redeeming qualities in Dynamic Pixels’ game.
YouTube often makes games more appealing. I personally don’t play the Five Nights At Freddy’s games, but I’ve watched hundreds of videos on the series. Whether it’s Markiplier screaming at Freddy, Bonnie, Chica, and the other animatronics, or MatPat giving viewers intriguing theories, I know everything about that series without actually playing it. Hello Neighbor falls into the same category; better to watch than to play.
One of the biggest questions I’ve asked myself after playing Hello Neighbor is whether or not watching streamers/influences is the best way to experience certain games. Horror games, simulators, titles like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds are most popular on Twitch, Mixer, and YouTube. Sure, Outlast 2, Observer, and Resident Evil VII are wonderful games to play, but the joy of horror games is to watch people’s reactions. While I had fun playing these horror titles, watching my favorite personalities play through them often provided a better experience.
In the future, will YouTube and Twitch further dictate how people perceive video games? Hello Neighbor is the perfect example of how a game is better when watching someone play. Personally, my opinion on Hello Neighbor is that it’s not good at all. I hated it. The game didn’t live up the expectations I had. Before starting the game, I thought the Tiny Build published game was fantastic. If I just stuck to watching others play, it could have been one of my favorites.
YouTube and Twitch ultimately ruined a game for me, and I think that this is just the beginning. As more games are released in the future, YouTubers and streamers will influence their audience when it comes to certain games, and this scares me. I’ve fallen into a rabbit hole of watching too many people play, that it has taken away my enjoyment of experience anticipating games for the first time. I made it a rule to start watching streams after I finish the game. I just worry about the millions of people subscribed to popular channels. Will games be ruined for them? Will they not buy a game because they’ve “experienced” an entire game through YouTube videos? While I can’s speak for everybody else, I think this is inevitable, and it scares me.