As remasters go, I don’t imagine many players out there were clamouring for one of 2003’s Neighbours From Hell and its sequel. I’d not even heard of it before now. Yet, while it’s hardly a game changing title there is a good amount of slapstick fun to be had here, at least for the most part.
We take on the role of Woody, a poor soul who seemingly has the neighbour…from hell. Growing tired of his antics Woody takes part in the titular game show in which he must sneak into his neighbours house and cause as much grief as possible without being caught. It’s a simple premise, and yet I genuinely got a good few laughs as I puzzled my way through the stages.
The neighbour in question (Mr. Rottweiler) is a creature of habit, and each level sees him follow different set routines, indicated by a thought bubble in the lower corner of the screen. One may see him moving from tending to a rooftop barbeque to eating a steak in the living room, before heading to the kitchen to grab another beer, for example. There’s no real time pressure though as he will just loop through the same actions over and over until we beat the level; if we miss our chance to put some thumbtacks on his chair then it’s just a case of waiting a few moments for him to move on and then a few more for him to repeat this action.
There are items to pick up within the levels to aid in our mischief, such as the aforementioned thumbtacks, marker pens, hair growing solution, slippers and many more. Each stage tends to have between 4 and 8 possible opportunities for grief, with around ¾ of them needed to clear the stage. We need to figure out the options for ourselves though. It’s hardly Hitman but NbfH does manage to keep the variety up. It can be a little fiddly at times to figure out the correct item for each scenario as Woody will turn to the camera and shrug his shoulders if it’s wrong, giving the neighbour a few seconds extra to try and catch us. Get it right though and Woody will spend a few seconds setting up his trap before we make a hasty retreat and wait for the outcome.
The camera will zoom in to show the result in a typical game show fashion, focusing on the neighbours anguish and resulting pain. Woody is uncontrollable while this is the case, but we can exit out of the zoom at any time to move him to a safe location. If the neighbour catches us (simply being in the same room at the same time is enough, regardless of the direction he’s facing) he’ll give Woody a good beating before flinging him to another room of the location, one of our three lives gone. There are also other details to be mindful of, such as his pet parrot who will alert him to our location unless we sneak by it. It all adds up to a fun little puzzle experience as we try to manoeuvre around the locations setting traps and waiting to see the results.
It is a little disappointing then that often times the levels use the same traps between them, in the exact same way. The opening handful, for example, had me putting an egg in the microwave every time. While this is no doubt a limitation of remastering rather than remaking the originals it did deflate the experience a little – once a certain item is picked up you know exactly what to do with it yet again. Each level does introduce new elements to be fair but then these just enter the pot for recycling later on.
The limits for detection and the slight muddiness to the controls can make for some frustrating loss of lives at times. If we’re not well out of the room by the time the neighbour enters we’ re forced into the beat down animation even if it appeared as though we should really have escaped, while going up and down stairs is an all or nothing affair so if timed poorly then we walk straight into his grasp.
Despite these niggles I had a lot of fun with Neighbours Back From Hell. It’s a simple premise, but one that is executed with a good sense of humour and nicely devised set ups. There are a ton of levels to work through and while the repetition across them can add up there’s enough charm to help us carry on making Mr. Rottweiler’s life a misery.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.