Hello, Neighbor [official site], a game seeking Kickstarter cash, is cheery and terrifying. You’ve moved to a new neighbourhood and become intrigued by the gent living just across the road. Your house is a dinky little thing and he lives in a manor. That manor has many rooms and your neighbour is hiding secrets behind the basement door. Your task is simple – break in, enter the basement, discover the truth. Only your neighbour stands between you and success. Unfortunately, he’s smart. And he learns from your every move.
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This could have been tailor-made for me. I love the idea of a single location with a single entity to outsmart. There’s something very exciting about watching AI go about its business – part of the appeal of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. was always the incidental encounters that allowed me to be a spectator rather than a participant. The main loop of Hello, Neighbor! (surveillance, infiltration, exploration, escape) should encourage that kind of observation.
The twist is that the neighbour character is watching you even while you’re watching him. A video below explains how the AI should work. It’s exciting stuff, not only because it’s clever but because the explanations help me to believe that it’s actually possible. This isn’t a case of saying “OUR PRETEND MAN WILL BE INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM A REAL MAN”, it’s a case of explaining the smoke and mirrors that will make the neighbour an interesting antagonist.
I never thought I’d see a game adaptation of Tom Waits’s “What’s he building in there?” and this is close enough to count, even if it does seem to be on the side of the busybody rather than the builder.
The Kickstarter has only just begun – there are 30 days left to run and the target is $100,000 (£65k). Currently, the release is planned for October 2016 on Windows, Mac, and Linux.