Developer: tinyBuild Games
Publisher: tinyBuild Games
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Multiplayer
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on Xbox, PlaySation, PC – Steam and IOS)
Age Rating: PEGI 7 mild violence
Release Date: 26/08/2021
A code was provided for review purposes
Ssh… It’s a Secret
Secret Neighbor has come to Nintendo switch bringing a unique horror, multiplayer, online experience. Set in the world of the Hello Neighbour universe, things will be familiar to people who have previously played games in series. Though this time around your goals are all about team work. You select one of six kids and work together with the other members in your team to find key cards that are scattered around one of two houses, and locate all of the six keys to open the basement door locks and escape. All the while being pursued by an evil neighbour who is amongst your party in a disguise, waiting to strike.
Each house is large with many rooms to explore but the lack of extra locations is a little disappointing. However, each house contains multiple rooms, security doors to unlock with key cards and many secret paths that lead to every nook and cranny imaginable. You’re going to need to explore everywhere though to locate all the numbered key cards that are required to progress. Search every drawer, cabinet, wardrobe and open every door to find many hidden keys and items that can help you in your endeavours.
If for some reason, all your party members have been found and you’re the last one standing, you may encounter a friendly crow who squawks around the house leading you to undiscovered keys. Although the location of the crow is marked, getting there is another task all on its own. You may find doors blocked by chairs left by the neighbour or security doors that have not been opened yet. You’ll need to either find another way around, or find the right key card to gain access. With no mini-map to assist you, I was constantly getting lost trying to find a way in or out which was frustrating.
Thankfully you’ll be able play as one of six kids each with their own abilities and costumes, which are purely cosmetic. Each kid has a unique ability that will help you move around the house more easily. For example Bagger can carry more items which is incredibly useful whereas Inventor can create and craft key cards by finding cogs located around the environment. Adding in an extra layer of complexity to your game plan.
And while the evil neighbour can instantly grab you if he’s near enough to you, which means a game over, the kids aren’t completely defenceless. They are able to throw objects to stun the neighbour and any kid with a slingshot can knock him unconscious, allowing for some downtime for the neighbour and freedom for the kid to escape.
The game can become quite intense as your group numbers start to dwindle and you are tasked with finding the remaining keys by yourself. The sense of dread as you navigate each corridor is palpable and makes for a really enjoyable romp through the game. Playing as the evil neighbour is still exciting as you stalk your prey, but loses some of its muster as I found him to be quite slow, lumbering to move about. If am honest I enjoyed playing as the kids a lot more.
Secret Neighbor is an online only title and there is no offline mode available to play, which is fine as the core gameplay loop is enjoyable for a while and it’s easy to find matches specially throughout my time playing. But my biggest issue was that in some game sessions the neighbour player would just leave mid-way through, completely ruining the core gameplay loop.
When I played my first match I had no idea how to play and spent my time in complete darkness as I didn’t know or realise you could equip a torch to light your way. It was never explained thanks to there not being any tutorials available. This could have been fixed easily but sadly, it’s only one of the many missteps Secret Neighbor fails to follow up on.
Menu navigation is really slow and clunky, making the most simple things like choosing a character or looking through the shop a slow, unresponsive slog. Also, if for some reason the neighbour player leaves a match through a connection failure or rage quit you’re basically stuck in limbo. And you’ll need to complete the match even though the danger has been removed, making it pretty dull there on in.
Finally, my biggest complaint is about the depth of the game. While there is some fun to be had the range of modes is pretty bare-bones. Standard match, a custom game mode and slingshot brawl is pretty much all that’s here. There’s a shop with some great cosmetics but I never really had enough gold coins to buy anything exciting. A lack of unlockables, micro-transactions, three neighbour characters and the somewhat poor performance during some games made me feel like this game needed a little more time in the oven.
Secret Neighbor is a fun but fleeting title. While the core concept holds up for few hours, things start to become tiring with the same locations. The shop holds some great cosmetics to buy but is a complete nightmare to navigate due to slow, unresponsive controls. Graphics and sound is all OK, but things can become glitchy or laggy during matches depending on connections. I wanted to love Secret Neighbor as it reminded me of Dead by Daylight, but there’s just nothing really worthwhile here to invest your time in. Maybe this is one secret not worth telling anyone about.
Rapid Reviews Rating
2 out of 5
You can buy Secret Neighbor from the Nintendo eShop here.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.