The original Hello Neighbor offered a uniquely creepy spin on the survival horror genre, with players attempting to secretly navigate an increasingly intricate home that their suspicious neighbor is patrolling. After becoming a cult classic, the Hello Neighbor franchise was quickly saturated with spin-offs, a prequel, and even a series of books. At long last, the game that started it all has received a proper sequel with Hello Neighbor 2. While there are some pleasant quality-of-life improvements, Hello Neighbor 2 hardly feels like a fleshed-out sequel.
A beautiful day in the neighborhood
Hello Neighbor 2 drops players into the shoes of Quentin, an investigative journalist and resident of Raven Brooks. Quentin is well aware of Mr. Peterson, the titular neighbor and returning antagonist. With several outstanding missing person cases, Quentin decides to dig into the matter himself, uncovering dark secrets about Mr. Peterson, Raven Brooks, and the rest of its citizens.
Hello Neighbor 2 has no problem dialing up some incredibly effective scares. The town of Raven Brooks is ominously quiet, and I frequently found myself whipping around to look over my shoulder at the slightest noise or sign that something else was present. It’s hard to shake the feeling that you’re being watched. That’s because some of the time, you actually are.
Won’t you be my neighbor?
The defining mechanic of the first Hello Neighbor game was the enemy AI, which would learn player behaviors, and adapt to them. This included boarding up windows, and setting traps for areas in which the player was previously caught. Hello Neighbor 2 takes this feature and dials it up a couple of notches.
Not only will players be dealing with the sinister Mr. Peterson and his expansive home, but several other notable characters around Raven Brooks. There are multiple NPCs whose homes and establishments you can break into to uncover clues and piece together the game’s mysteries. These characters are all powered by the game’s signature AI, which adapts to player behaviors every time they interact. It made for an exciting cat-and-mouse game, where I would try to learn the AIs behavior and trick it, while it did the same thing to me.
One particular character that really creeped me out in Hello Neighbor 2 was The Guest. This bird-like creature has appeared in previous Hello Neighbor material and serves as one of the antagonists in this game. It follows the player around parts of the town, attempting to grab them without being detected. Having an AI that’s also operating in stealth, trying to get the jump on me in the same way that I’m trying to get the jump on my neighbors was downright horrifying. I was the victim of a couple of jumpscares at the hands of The Guest.
A town of mystery
Hello Neighbor 2 also adopts an open-world design. Of the various homes and establishments that players can sneak into, there is no strict order in which they have to do so. If you want to spend hours trying to figure out the mystery of the Bakery, or run straight to a character’s home, that’s your prerogative.
This open-world approach also informs the puzzle design in Hello Neighbor 2. There were several times that certain puzzles required me to gather an item or a piece of information from another home or location in the town. It’s a satisfying feeling when you walk away from a puzzle, and then stumble upon the missing piece to the solution elsewhere.
Environmental puzzles specifically are what TinyBuild does so well in Hello Neighbor 2. Every building (that you can enter) feels like a massive puzzle waiting to be solved. Whether it’s a door sealed by multiple locks, safes that require combinations to open, or secret rooms that can only be opened with a specific item, each structure is a giant ball of mystery. Even when I didn’t know exactly how to tackle a puzzle, I felt encouraged to experiment with the mechanics.
Dark secrets revealed
Stealth is another key aspect of Hello Neighbor 2, as you’re constantly sneaking in and out of people’s homes while trying to avoid detection. Not only do you have to stay out of their line of sight, but you also have to remain as quiet as possible. Making noise will report nearby NPCs, potentially blowing your cover. There was one instance where I stepped on a squeaky toy that I didn’t notice on the ground, and the homeowner burst into the room seconds later. While I was quick enough to hide in a closet, the character was smart enough to know that was the only hiding place in the room, and properly caught me.
Trying to be sneaky in Hello Neighbor is exhilarating. That said, it felt like the game wasn’t always playing by its own rules. Some sounds, like opening/closing doors and hiding in closets, didn’t alert the AI, despite being pretty loud. I figure that this is to avoid punishing the player for simply navigating, but it felt like a direct contradiction of the game’s established rules. Perhaps these non-consequential sounds could have been quieter, or maybe the game could just tell you upfront what sounds you should avoid. I found it difficult at times to distinguish between what sounds were safe and which ones were alerting the AI.
I also found the game’s UI and controls to be fairly clunky. Players have to physically open their inventory, which can only hold five items. There isn’t a way to bind inventory slots to hotkeys, so it can be frustrating when trying to quickly access specific items during intense moments. It’d also be nice if I could just quickly scroll through the items in my inventory with the mouse wheel.
I imagine that these issues will be much easier to excuse for those that are steeped in the Hello Neighbor franchise and all its adaptations, as a less-than-ideal experience has become par for the course. That said, most players will leave with a little bit to be desired.
Back home again
Hello Neighbor 2 feels more like an updated version of the first game. It’s considerably larger than the first game, and the expansion of the AI technology to additional characters is a welcomed decision. Outside of that, there is very little separating the two games. Hello Neighbor 2 still has a clunky UI, unsatisfying controls, and problems being consistent with its own rules. Where there was a real opportunity to take the franchise to the next level, this sequel just feels like more of the same.
Hello Neighbor 2 is available now on Steam, Epic Games Store, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch.
Hello Neighbor 2
- AI tech is applied to additional characters
- Non-linear approach works well
- Solid environmental puzzles
- Clunky UI and controls
- The rules of stealth can be confusing
- Feels like a retread of the original game