Hello Neighbor: Hide and Seek Review

tinyBuild has done a great job in building its portfolio over the past five years with many titles being well received such as Mr. Shifty, The Final Station and Party Hard 2. There are other games however that haven’t exactly shone bright. Hello Neighbor released last year for the first time yet before that is when it received most of it’s publicity, due to somewhat a broken state of the game in terms of technical issues and in difficulty when in early access. Keen on sticking to the IP, Hide and Seek looks to rectify what went wrong but instead, makes things worse.

It very much feels like a rehash of the original just with differing characters and the intent of building a narrative that leads up to the first title. I didn’t get far, or couldn’t get far into the content due to lack of direction, interest and a lot of irritation. You play as the young daughter of the Neighbor you had to avoid in the 2017 game. This time it’s about hiding from your brother as they play hide and seek and jump into exaggerated worlds that are based upon the reality of their home.

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Whilst playing it becomes obvious that the hide and seek is more a side objective whilst you try to complete different puzzles, and uncover what happened in the events leading up to the game before it. This feels like a piece of DLC and yet is priced otherwise, which wouldn’t be so bad if the quality was there but unfortunately that is not the case.

Gameplay is uninspiring and repetitive with the major game mechanic coming across as completely annoying. Whilst on the run from the brother, if he spots you the music kicks in to let you know he is closing in and when the distance between you is miniscule the screen fades a little, those parts are okay. When he grabs you however, he lets out this completely obnoxious noise somewhat reminiscent of Roger’s “NYEH” in American Dad. Aside from that, I don’t feel incentivised to go ahead with the levels, there’s nothing to clearly guide the way and when I try to accomplish something, I’m held back by terrible level design and difficulty spikes.

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The most promising aspect of the series are the visuals, delivering a unique art-style that I feel is now synonymous with these games, from the characters to the worlds, the use of varied colours is inviting and urges you to wander and take in the scenery around you. Accompanied with the ambient noises, each level really comes alive and immerses you right before everything else knocks you back into the real world.

OVERALL: 3/10 – TERRIBLE

Hide and Seek is a complete misstep for the publishing portfolio of tinyBuild and yet another step in the wrong direction for Dynamic Pixels, a promising premise with lacklustre execution makes for a forgettable experience.

Reviewed by Rhys Baldwin.

(Disclaimer: Jester Says received a review copy of Hello Neighbor: Hide and Seek, however this does not in any way affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)

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Hitman 2 Review

Hitman is one of the most recognisable franchises in gaming today and has transcended the entertainment medium by jumping over into the movie world. It’s no surprise that another title in the series was on the way thanks to the success IO Interactive saw with the 2016 game. Since then, IO have parted with Square Enix and managed to keep the beloved IP and continue it with Hitman 2. Does it recreate the satisfaction when taking down enemies in a stealth-like fashion, and bring the enjoyable content found in its predecessor?

The stealth genre is filled with fantastic series, like Metal Gear Solid, Dishonored and Assassin’s Creed just to name a few. Hitman however, thanks to its setting, characters and game mechanics, stands out amongst the crop. Agent 47 in spite of his soul-less demeanour is a memorable character that you can cling onto and feel like a badass. From the barcode tattoo on the back of his head, to the lack of hair and even his red tie he is easily spotted in a crowd which makes it more impressive that his cover doesn’t get blown from mission start.

Variety is the spice of life and this could not apply more here, each kill can happen in dozens of different ways and each level is kitted with a plethora of objects to assist in your murder quest. Use everything from your typical guns or knives to falling chandelier’s and electricity. Those who are quick to think on their feet and remain aware of their surroundings will absolutely make full use of the killing playground.

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In terms of content there just isn’t a lot of it, but I guess it is all about quality over quantity which fortunately seems to be the case here. The campaign features just six missions, all of which however can be replayed a great many times and you still won’t have found everything or completed the mission in each different possible way. What’s refreshing about the story is it comes across as concise with no un-necessary padding, my attention was captured through-out and I remained invested from start to finish. I couldn’t help but feel like I had just played through a downloadable standalone piece rather than a full game and the replayability just isn’t enough to sate my hunger for more.

What doesn’t help that feeling of in-completion is that in the menus you can see the story option for Hitman 1 and then a campaign option for DLC that is to come. By paying a little more you can get some extra content although it seems a little disingenuous as it feels needed to complete the package.

Ghost Mode is currently in beta and a much-welcomed addition to the series, with two players going head to head in a competitive environment, who can be the better assassin basically. Same starting point, same target etc with each player going about in their own instance whilst being able to see each other but not out-right affect the other players world. I had a blast with this mode as a result of the tension and urgency that it brings to the plate. There’s nothing quite like casually making your way through a heavily guarded area only for the indicator to pop up that tells you your opponent has killed the target. Upon this happening a 20-second timer begins forcing the fight sort of speak, either eliminate your target to even the score or forfeit the point. Consider me hooked on this adrenaline rush.

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Sniper Assassin is the second new additional mode to the series and serves as the co-operative experience whilst also remaining slightly competitive. Compete against someone whilst working together to take out all targets from afar in a limited timeframe. It’s the best of both worlds with the competitive aspect coming up in just keeping track of how many kills each player has. The downside to both modes is that currently they are only available on one map each, which adds more weight to the lack of content argument.

Then we have Contracts, user-created missions, almost. Players can jump into one of the maps and select an NPC, however you kill that marked NPC will be tracked, saved and then available as a contract for other players around the world to try their hand at it. This provides another way in which IO have made the small amount of content go a long way and provides that quality. Challenges, Mastery and Unlockables combine to form this sense of progression as you rinse and repeat your way through missions to gain more experience and satisfaction in completing things 100%.

I am a huge fan of the visuals, more so the effects and design as opposed to fine detail and fidelity. Walking through a typical suburban neighbourhood whilst taking in the view of American flags rippling, trees swaying and leaves falling sets an atmosphere that almost contrasts to your objective of well, killing people. The brightly coloured street doesn’t share many features with some of the other areas you will encounter, showing the sharp differences in the locations as to which your assassin job will take you to.

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Sound has been put to good use in conveying what is going on, building the tension exactly where it needs to and then bursting into a rush when things go awry. You need to be using your ears when tracking your enemies, as there are a ton of things to pick up along the way, vital information primarily.

OVERALL: 7.9/10 – GOOD

Hitman 2 delivers a well-paced story, deep gameplay mechanics and a ton of replayability. To go back to the argument of whether there is enough content, I want to say for the most part yes but only if your happy playing through the same few missions just in different ways and trying to 100% what you can. Personally, the amount of content just isn’t enough to keep me invested and I found myself becoming disinterested after a couple of play-throughs. A little more content would have gone a long way.

Reviewed by Rhys Baldwin.

(Disclaimer: Jester Says received a review copy of Hitman 2, however this does not in any way affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)

 

Murderous Pursuits Review

Murderous Pursuits is being described as a Stealth-em-up and comes from the team at Blazing Griffin, the same people who brought The Ship: Remastered in 2016. They look to take what they learned from The Ship, improve upon it and deliver a more well-rounded, quality experience. Is this the pursuit of happiness or just a wild murderous goose chase?

It’s dog eat dog aboard the titanic (actual ship in the game is HMSC Britannic) where up to eight players face off in a murder not-so-mystery game in which stealth is best. I love stealth, I love meaningful strategy and tactics, so this is something I have been wanting without knowing it. The story if it can be called a story is that you are aboard this time-travelling vessel and being tested in a game of “cat and mouse” against seven others, perform well and you will be chosen as the trusted assistant to the narrator. Nothing really happens after a win other than experience gains, which feels a bit anti-climactic and not worth it.

So, how do you win then? Each player throughout will be given a designated target which is referred to as your Quarry, kill them to earn favour points, just be the one with the most favour points at the end, to be the victor. It’s not quite as simple as that due the fact you could very well be one of the Quarry’s yourself and will have to out manoeuvre the hunters whilst hunting someone else. Which proves to be both an amusing and difficult task.

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You can increase the amount of points you earn per kill in different ways. There are five weapons available, each with a number assigned as to how many points you gain from using them, with each kill, the numbers change which forces you to adapt or get left behind in the leaderboard. Another smart feature is the Exposure system, the more you are moving around and making a scene the more exposed you become. Whilst not exposed you can earn points dependent on the meter, if exposed then no extra points. Why is this smart? Because it stops players just running around and going mental with a weapon, if you do so, you miss out on the extra points that others could be accruing up, you may kill more people but it’s about how you do it that matters, I appreciate that, quality over quantity.

More favour will also be awarded if you are on a kill streak, using your abilities to kill, stunning a hunter before they get you and killing an exposed quarry. There are numerous factors to think about when going for the cut to black on someone. Vignettes go hand in hand with the exposure system as these are set places on the map where if you stand on them your character begins an animation as a sort of, take no notice, I’m acting casually type deal. This reduces your exposure and is the only way to reduce it. Not only that but it can be used to trick others into thinking you are one of the many NPC’s on the map, that’s right there are innocent NPC’s as well which makes it more difficult to track or be tracked.

What stops players going crazy and attacking everything in sight? Guards, that’s right, try and attack someone whilst in view of these will put you in an arrest for a brief 5-10 second moment allowing your target or hunter to get away. These guards however like a little nap sometimes which means they won’t be looking and will be unaware of your activities. This has been so incredibly well thought-out and balanced, ensuring it is a more even playing field and doesn’t turn into a troll fest, it ensures people play the way it is meant to be played.

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There are four maps to jump into and for a game with only one mode, I feel there just isn’t enough to keep on going past a few hours, if that. The maps are interesting to explore for a bit but eventually you have seen everything on offer and very quickly too.

The art style was certainly on point for the type of game, more cartoon like rather than aiming for realism, it combines with the narrative and gameplay to put on this charming front. Each level matches the setting in looking like every area takes place in a ship, my favourite being the a mix between posh, high budget rooms and the barebones engineering areas.

When roaming around, killing people or being killed, even the sound has been injected with charm, the narrator is consistently commenting on what is going on and will either be approving of your journey or nicely berating you for screwing up. A nice addition that helps keep the easy going atmosphere carry on running.

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Murderous Pursuits takes a fun concept and executes on delivering an equally entertaining package. The issues arise in terms of longevity and variety neither of which it excels in. The maps are fascinating, the gameplay is satisfying but I feel it all comes to an end after a few hours with no true reason for progression aside from skins. Not always the best motivator unfortunately.

OVERALL: 6.9/10 – AVERAGE

Reviewed by Rhys Baldwin.

(Disclaimer: CONQUEST received a review copy of Murderous Pursuits, however this does not in any way affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)