Hello Neighbor 2 Review: "Fails To Leave A Lasting Impression"
The original Hello Neighbor gained a cult following after its full release in 2017. Since then, it’s spawned multiple entries, each tackling different gameplay scenarios such as the multiplayer-focused Secret Neighbor. However, after five long years, and numerous gameplay showings, a fully-fledged sequel has arrived under the guise of Hello Neighbor 2. Despite its anticipation, developer tinyBuild has finally delivered the goods, which, unfortunately, failed to leave any lasting impression once the end credits roll.
The opening moments of Hello Neighbor 2 see you skulking around your creepy neighborhood before coming across the villain of the piece, The Neighbor. After an introductory cutscene where you attempt to escape, you crash into a nearby barn and engage in a short tutorial that introduces you to the game’s mechanics. You’ll spend most of your time solving puzzles, all whilst avoiding the residents of the neighborhood you reside in.
It’s a simple premise, mixing point-and-click adventure puzzles with stealth elements. This time around, you have an entire street to explore, with four homes to invade to hunt down clues, and put together pieces of the puzzle. Your main goal is to find a missing child who you believe is being held at the local museum, and each chapter has you skulking around homes looking for new keys to open more of the museum during the evening.
The Metroidvania elements of Hello Neighbor 2 are where the game shines, as you slowly solve each house like a puzzle box. Returning to the museum and uncovering more of its contents on an evening gives a greater sense of progression, signalling an engaging gameplay loop. Unfortunately, while the activities and puzzles you engage in feel rewarding, it’s bogged down by some awful baggage.
These Are Not The Droids You’re Looking For
Out of everything in Hello Neighbor 2, the biggest letdown is the incredibly poor AI. With the game being built around avoiding these menaces, with tinyBuild claiming they will learn from the player’s behaviour, it all feels terribly scripted. Enemies will repeat the same two actions until you advance with puzzles and then move to a new location and complete a new, but repetitive path in that area.
Things are made worse when you’re caught. There’s zero tension as you can easily run outside the house and watch as the AI chases you before walking back inside, or simply get caught and lose the items you found exclusively in that house. Throughout the journey, there’s never a sense of threat, and the easily exploitable AI borders on just being a minor nuisance than a terrifying presence. The tension is completely killed when you run to the street and see the AI unable to leave the confines of the house.
Each home hosts a different villain, with some owning weapons such as guns, but it never feels like the difficulty is being ramped up and you’re instead just tackling another skin of the AI. In one instance, the AI completely glitched out, constantly walking in and out of the same door, allowing us to run around and complete all the puzzles. If they did manage to spot us, they would remain glitched, but instead, simply speed up running in and out of the doorway.
Thankfully, the puzzles themselves are enjoyable enough, as you'll need to complete objectives such as figuring out safe codes using children's building blocks or figuring out the correct keys to play on a piano to progress. None of the answers are obvious, but not obtuse enough to be annoying. The environmental storytelling is definitely a highlight of Hello Neighbor 2 as it cleverly signposts you in the right direction through visual cues. It's just a shame the AI doesn't complement it by presenting a realistic threat.
We’ve Been Bugged
In fact, Hello Neighbor 2 is plagued with bugs and glitches that constantly hinder the experience. There were numerous instances when the AI would stand in front of you, not aware of your presence. Alternatively, if you stand above the AI’s eye line in some rooms, you could easily escape their gaze and wait for them to leave.
The items you stumble across are also prone to bugging out, as they disappear from your inventory or fail to respawn once you’ve been spotted. Luckily, none of the items we lost were quest-sensitive, but we imagine this could potentially be a game-breaking bug for some people. Other players online are already reporting online they have had to restart the game due to issues such as this.
Out of all the glitches, the nastiest we encountered was a crash right before the final sequence. This wouldn’t have been too much of a hindrance, but the game failed to save at any point, meaning all the progress we made within our one sitting of Hello Neighbor 2 was lost, forcing us to restart the game from the beginning. If you are desperate to play the game, it may be worth waiting for a patch or two to rectify this issue and jump back in then.
An Expensive Adventure
All of this is soured even further by Hello Neighbor 2’s extortionate price point. At the time of release, the game is retailing for £33.49 / $39.99, which in no way justifies the experience you receive. Even without all of the bugs and AI issues, Hello Neighbor 2 is a roughly 3-hour experience with very little in the way of replayability. Puzzles can only be solved one particular way and there’s no incentive to experiment in the game.
To pour salt on the wound, two additional levels are locked behind paid DLC with a ridiculous price point of £11.24 / $13.49. With Hello Neighbor 2 already being fairly short, it feels like a kick in the teeth to players picking up the game and finding an additional 50% of the levels are locked behind another chunk of change. It feels predatory and perhaps a way of recuperating costs from it entering Xbox Game Pass on day one. With file sizes of around 10 MB, it’s clear these are already built into the game and locked behind a paywall.
While the original game gained fans, it feels like little has been built upon the predecessor, instead spending the time making the world feel bigger than before. While that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, it feels like more time should have been spent to make things feel more dynamic and fleshing out the experience to build tension for the player.
Buried underneath a sea of technical issues and price points that leave a bad taste in our mouths, it's hard to recommend Hello Neighbor 2 - even with its release on Xbox Game Pass. There’s very little suspense, a lack of narrative, and nothing to return to after you’ve rolled credits - if you manage to make it that far without losing your progress. If you’re looking for a horror experience this holiday season, it’s better to look elsewhere.
Reviewed on Xbox Series X.