If you took one glance at My Friendly Neighborhood, you might not think it’s a horror game. And, if I’m being honest, it’s not necessarily a horror game in a typical kinda way either. However, you won’t have to spend long in this cute yet vicious world to realise there’s something sinister going on beneath the surface, and believe me, it makes for one heck of an enthralling experience.
Check out some screenshots down below:
My Friendly Neighborhood puts players in the role of Gordon, an engineer whose future work relies on him completing a job disconnecting a recently activated broadcast antenna at the set of an old children’s TV show known as ‘My Friendly Neighborhood’. It should have been a pretty straightforward job too, though the roaming puppets that want to murder Gordon do make his job a little bit more difficult…
Yep, the once family-friendly cast of My Friendly Neighborhood have gone insane, so you’ll have to take them down if you hope to have any chance of completing the job. It makes for a fun premise that doesn’t always feel scary in a conventional manner, but is constantly unnerving thanks to the colourful characters that want nothing more than to bring your life to a swift end. The whole ‘child-friendly’ take on horror ticks a lot of the right boxes for me, and it gives My Friendly Neighborhood a unique vibe that helps it stand out in what is a crowded genre.
Of course, the fact that it also happens to be a lot of fun to play helps. The best game to compare it to would be Resident Evil, with players exploring a range of connected areas that are locked off from each other by doorways that require specific keys to open, solving a variety of clever puzzles that’ll require some logical thinking to unravel, and carefully managing their resources in order to ensure they can keep enemies at bay. The setup will be very familiar, but with the children’s TV show-inspired world feeling like a unique treat to explore and the blend of puzzling and combat offering plenty of entertaining moments, it’s easy to appreciate the throwback.
“Hearing the creepy muttering of the puppets as you try to carefully sneak around them will genuinely leave players on edge, whilst having to backtrack through areas to complete puzzles can feel especially daunting if you KNOW you’ve left some unbound enemies around.”
There are even some more direct nods to the Resident Evil series that I appreciated, such as having to use tape to tie down enemies to permanently defeat them (which reminded me of burning the zombies in the Resident Evil Remake) and using a tile-based system to manage your inventory, which is something that’ll be very familiar to Resident Evil 4 players. The only thing I wasn’t such a fan of? The save system, that requires players to use tokens in order to save the game. Whilst there are some checkpoints in place to ensure you don’t lose too much progress when dying, I’m one of those survival horror fans who doesn’t miss the days of having to use ink ribbons to save my game. But hey, maybe that’s just me?
One of the best things about My Friendly Neighborhood is how it manages to nail that unnerving sense of tension. Hearing the creepy muttering of the puppets as you try to carefully sneak around them will genuinely leave players on edge, whilst having to backtrack through areas to complete puzzles can feel especially daunting if you KNOW you’ve left some unbound enemies around. As mentioned, you’ll have to tie enemies with tape if you want them to be defeated for good in the game, but with tape a limited commodity that’s hard to come by, you can expect some fallen enemies to come back for revenge when backtracking through areas. It adds a greater sense of tension to each showdown, which will already keep players on their toes thanks to the zany but creepy designs of the enemies. I don’t want to spoil too much here, but believe me, you’ll come across some of the most unique enemies you’ll see in ANY survival horror game when playing My Friendly Neigborhood…
I should point out that the combat isn’t always perfect though. The shooting mechanics are fine and I love the unusual take on weaponry, but getting up-close and personal with the wrench always felt a little off. It was hard to judge the distance between the enemy and my attack, meaning some swings that FELT like they should have connected missed and left me vulnerable. Whilst I’ll admit this could be a skill issue at times, there were plenty of occasions where the hitbox felt off, especially when compared to enemies who could grab me with ease. There’s a big reliance on using your wrench given that resources are limited in the game, so it could be a bit annoying when an attack feels like it should connect but doesn’t.
Check out some screenshots down below:
It’s a minor complaint in what was otherwise a thoroughly entertaining escapade though, with My Friendly Neighborhood proving a great balance of exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat to keep players fully invested in their plight against the puppets. There are some wonderful sights to be seen as you explore the ‘family-friendly’ world, whilst the set pieces bring a welcome change of pace when the tension needs to be ramped up. And the boss battles? They bring with them some real stand-out moments, even IF they’re rarely difficult to beat. Add to that the fantastic voice acting of the puppets that somehow perfectly mixes up child-friendly mannerisms with violent tendencies and it’ll be clear to see that My Friendly Neighborhood is a special little experience.
My Friendly Neighborhood Review
My Friendly Neighborhood offers a unique horror experience that’s a lot of fun to play thanks to its clever yet unconventional children’s TV show setup. It’s all very ‘family-friendly’ in design and doesn’t always necessarily feel like a horror game, but that’s what makes the whole experience so unnerving – especially since it’s full of moments that’ll leave you unsettled and on the edge of your seat.
It’s just good fun to play and manages to nail the balance of exploration, puzzle-solving, and combat perfectly. Sure, a lot of its gameplay mechanics have been seen and done plenty of times before, but they complement the refreshing concept and ensure that My Friendly Neighborhood stands out as a unique treat for horror fans.
Developer: John Szymanski, Evan Szymanski
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed)