The infamous Mr. Peterson returns in the sequel, and he’s picked up some new tricks to trap intruders.
The Hello Neighbor series started from humble beginnings. The original was a modest hide-and-seek game about young sleuths uncovering the darker side of their weird neighbor, but it would end up becoming a surprise hit with horror fans and took the online live streaming community by storm. The sequel, Hello Neighbor 2, is on the way, and it looks to be expanding on that creeping sense of dread and weirdness within a small town.
In this sequel, an independent journalist named Quinton, moves to Ravebrooks to learn more about the town’s strange atmosphere and unsettling characters that reside there–which includes the returning antagonist Mr. Peterson. Just before the reveal of a new trailer, and the announcement of an upcoming beta in 2022, I had the chance to speak to the developers at TinyBuild about the sequel and see an extended look at the horror-stealth game.
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Just like in the original game, you’ll have to solve puzzles and sneak past antagonists to uncover clues and make it out without being seen. Hello Neighbor 2 expands on the original game’s concept of exploring a single mansion. The sequel opens up the entire town of Ravensbrook up to explore, letting you interact with other characters that may have some ties to the larger mystery.
“There’s more of a sense of freedom compared to the original game, and the map is almost 8-10 times larger than in the previous,” said designer Alexey Kravchenko. “There’s a greater set of tools and gadgets to use to outsmart characters, and you can even drop the main investigation and just explore the town to uncover clues and secrets around the town.”
Though Hello Neighbor 2 has an unabashedly colorful aesthetic, similar to a Saturday morning cartoon, it is still thoroughly a horror game that seeks to build tension–and it does succeed in that regard. There’s a noticeable eeriness in Hello Neighbor 2, effectively juxtaposing that mood with its inviting and cozy look.
If the original Hello Neighbor was something akin to Ridley Scott’s Alien, then Hello Neighbor 2 is in a similar spirit to James Cameron’s Aliens, which greatly expands on the agency you have in uncovering the mystery while also heightening the danger in kind. In Hello Neighbor 2, there’s much more of an element of learning each characters’ behavior and using it against them. During one segment in the demo, the protagonist encounters Mr. Otto, Ravenbrooks’ resident hermit and misanthrope. He’s always unfriendly, and if he catches you, he’ll chase you off his property with his shotgun.
From here, you can attempt to brute force your way into his house and find tools to use elsewhere, or you can sneak past him as he performs his daily activities — which includes target practice. Each character in Ravenbrooks has a set schedule and agenda, which you can keep track of at your base. Sometimes, it might be better to make moves during the evening, which can help keep you hidden.
While Ravenbrooks has an array of weird characters, Mr. Peterson is still the strangest and most enigmatic of them all.
Though the gameplay isn’t as open ended as immersive sims like Dishonored or Deus Ex, there’s still a sense of freedom in how you use your tools and knowledge of the environments that reward your curiosity. This approach to the sequel, which was a modest concept in an isolated setting, felt really intriguing. The sequel does a lot to use the expanded lore and narrative that the franchise has grown over the years, which is fun to see play out in the game.
Though a release date for the full release hasn’t been set and development is still ongoing, a short alpha demo is available to play on the official website right now. But in 2022, Xbox users who pre-order Hello Neighbor 2 on April 7 will be able to play a closed beta version of the game, with a small sampling of Ravenbrooks to explore.