A fun and well presented remaster, that unfortunately suffers from repetitiveness during its short playtime
- Developer: MIG
- Publisher: Handy Games
- Genre: Puzzle
- Release Date: 8th October 2020
- Platforms: Xbox One, PC (Steam), PS4
- Reviewed on: Xbox One
- Game Supplied by: Handy Games
Neighbours back From Hell was a surprise to me. I had long forgotten my days back in 2003, crammed in front of a PC with my friends, taking turns pranking our grumpy old neighbour in Neighbours From Hell.
A strong sense of nostalgia passed over me when I saw Neighbours back From Hell in the Xbox store. With both the first and second game crammed into one, updated visuals that have been rendered in full-HD and animations seeing a double in frame rate for a smoother experience, it looked like a game I was sure to love.
To my surprise, the old-school claymation-like graphics have held up pretty well. There are still some signs of age but they are not all that noticeable. My partner, who never played the games back in their day, had no idea it was a remaster of an older title. The graphics are a huge improvement over the originals, breathing new life into what I would call a classic. As an added bonus the whole vibe and aesthetic of the visuals has stayed true, and it has not lost its early 2000s TV show looks.
The gameplay has also seen some improvement, given that now I am playing it on Xbox and as such, I am naturally more comfortable, but the animation and actual mechanics feel smoother than I remember. All animations saw a double in framerate and that really helped bring the game into the present. It was a joy to see a game I spent a great amount of my childhood playing brought back to light in such an updated manner.
The gameplay itself remains untouched from the original: The idea is that you are the host of a prank show on your neighbor. You will go from level to level, making his life hell, and every level, or episode if you will, gives you different prank opportunities and a set of challenges to achieve maximum stars.
You will start any given level by entering the area and Woody, our main character, will do his little smile and finger wag. Following that, you will need to search the area for things you can use to prank your Neighbour, which could be anything from markers to soap to fireworks. Then you have to move around and set the traps, waiting for your short-fused neighbor to fall for them. Do all of this while remaining unseen by your Neighbour and you will complete the mission.
This remains fun to play, working out the neighbors’ pattern, looking for every prank opportunity, hiding in cupboards to avoid detection and finally setting it all up for the perfect string of blood boiling pranks.
Back when I originally played Neighbours from Hell I spent pretty much all of my time in the neighbor’s house. Having never played the second game I hadn’t experienced the vacation destinations available in the sequel, so to experience them now in a remastered form on my preferred platform really was a treat.
There are, however, a few things that, while not a deal-breaker, could have been tweaked or added:
The animation when the neighbor gets mad and waves his hands around, leading to him cracking his back is iconic to me, but it is always the same. In the sense of bringing the game into the current-gen market, I feel a couple more animations could have been added to give some variety. As I said it’s not a huge deal but it does get repetitive. Understandably the game was held back by the limitations of its day, but nearly two decades on I would have preferred if a little more could have been added.
Carrying on from that idea, while a remaster is just a revamp, I do like when developers add a little something extra. Most games will include all DLC and some of them add some previously unobtainable items or areas. I wish that they had added a couple of bonus levels or even at a push a special area never before seen in the game. I don’t hold that against the game or developers, as that is not the definition of a remaster and at the price of £12.99 I can’t really ask for more.
The game is not without its issues, though. I have noticed the odd texture that is missing and the gameplay does have some repetitiveness. I can’t tell you how many times I defaced the same picture with a marker or put the same eggs in the microwave. But you do get new pranks often enough that it holds up for the six or so hours it takes to get through the entire game.
For the price, Neighbours back From Hell is a great game. Regardless of if you have played them before it is a great time killer that will have you living out your wildest prank dreams, maybe even satisfying a hidden desire to get some vengeance on your real neighbours (Jason the parking space thief).
The remaster has been done really well, the visuals look great and the game itself is still pretty fun despite having its issues and being a tad repetitive in some areas. I do still wish some extra content was added. New levels are not so much of an issue, but a couple of extra animations would have been a fun extra for old fans and extra variety for new players, as well as helping to alleviate the repetitiveness.
Overall, Woody is still a cheeky little guy who is fun to play with.