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Hello Neighbor has, despite its flaws, become an incredibly popular game among certain groups of gamers. With its stealth gameplay and unique look, it certainly stands out on streams and thus has started to build an empire of its own. The latest iteration of the game, Secret Neighbor, is now in beta. How it stacks up, though, does heavily depend on how you feel about the original game.
Billing itself as a social horror game, Secret Neighbor more or less picks up from the same basic premise as Hello Neighbor. You take on the role of one of several neighborhood children, and you're trying to sneak into the house of the Neighbor to rescue your friend who is trapped in the basement. You'll still have to search for keys and stay hidden as you try to accomplish your goals, but now there's a twist - one of your fellow kids is the Neighbor in disguise.
The game is asymmetrical, though, so one player will also play as The Neighbor. In this case, you get to set traps and try to track down the kids. It makes for a tense game of cat and mouse, though one that ultimately is as much about learning how to trust as it is learning the patterns of the game.
Graphically, this game is basically just Hello Neighbor. There really aren't any upgrades, which is probably a purposeful choice - so much of the game relies on its very specific aesthetic that making any changes would absolutely derail the game's ability to sell itself. As such, you're still going to look at the same unpolished animations and the same serviceable but boring backgrounds as you go through this game.
The audio really is no better. You're still looking at basically the same music as you got in Hello Neighbor - if you liked it there, you'll like it here. If not, you'll quickly find that the music is, at the very least, bland enough that you can turn it off without really missing anything.
The gameplay here is a huge leap above Hello Neighbor because you're going to deal more with a real human than with the AI. While the AI could cheat and bug out, a real player is going to be both much smarter and much fairer. It makes the game much tenser and more enjoyable for players, which really helps this new version to stand on its own.
The asymmetrical aspect is still one that needs some polishing. The Neighbor can be too easy to beat at times, but he's also a character that most players will want to play. A few more balance patches and a bit of work to ensure that the Neighbor strikes a balance between being beatable and still being a threat will be necessary for this game to reach its true potential.
Secret Neighbor really takes the best parts of Hello Neighbor and lets them breathe. Though the graphics and music could use some cleaning up and there are still balance issues to address, the game is still fun to play. This is definitely a much better expression of how the gameplay loop in Hello Neighbor was meant to work, and the social nature of the game shows the potential that the setting actually has.
Secret Neighbor is an asymmetrical take on Hello Neighbor, pitting kids against The Neighbor.
What follows is the official description of Secret Neighbor, from the developers.
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