Neighbors From Hell is a comical game of practical jokes, presented as a spoof of "reality" television shows. Players view a cross-section of a residential building, where their character lives with a neighbor. Throughout the game's 14 episodes, the main goal is to sneak into different rooms and booby-trap everyday items that the neighbor might use, causing him to fall for one dirty trick after another.
Each time the neighbor is caught in one of the player's traps, a simulated studio audience will guffaw and applaud with approval. The better the sneaky trick, the louder the audience will cheer. If the player's character is ever caught in the act of setting one of these traps, however, there will be heck to pay. Neighbors From Hell features cartoonish 3D characters and apartment building settings, in line with its lighthearted, slapstick objectives.
If you've seen any reality television shows, you know the basic premise is to take "real" people and turn them into television stars, often by having them perform a variety of embarrassing or demeaning activities. Neighbors From Hell uses that concept and gives you control of your own reality show star, allowing you to direct him to produce a series of pranks on his neighbor that are cruel, painful, and really, really funny.
The basic premise behind Neighbors From Hell is to collect objects around your neighbor's home and use them to produce a series of pranks that the neighbor will set off. You have to do this without being caught, because if he catches you, he'll beat you up and you'll have to restart the mission. Plus, the audience's reaction will be lukewarm applause and we don't want that; the more pranks the neighbor sets off in a row, the better score you'll receive with your audience. If you can complete the episodes in a season nearly perfectly (an audience score of 90% or better), you'll receive the "Golden Neighbor Award."
Neighbors From Hell has a very simple control scheme. The left mouse button moves Woody (your actor), and is used to pick up and interact with objects; the right mouse button does the same in "sneak" mode. That's it. Three of the seventeen total missions are a basic tutorial in how to use the controls and play the game. Missions are timed, but if you want to make the game a bit easier (or dislike the stress of timed games) you can turn the timer off.
What Neighbors From Hell boils down to is a fun exercise in puzzle-solving and pattern recognition. The neighbor follows the same routine until the episode is over and only changes it if Woody does something to affect it. Once you've determined his pattern, it's simply a matter of following the steps needed to see the solution through. This makes the puzzles a bit simple to complete, so much that I'd consider recommending the game for children ... if only Woody's pranks weren't so mean. The puzzles are often very funny and clever, but are also quite cruel, in a Roadrunner-vs.-Wile E. Coyote sort of way. The neighbor will slip on banana peels, fall out the window, and electrocute himself thanks to Woody's pranks.
Graphics and sound are superb. Everything in the game is bright and cartoony, and the sound effects as pranks are perfectly fitting. The audience laughs and claps over a perfectly executed prank and giggles slightly when you set one up that looks particular painful. Watching Neighbors From Hell is like watching a Saturday morning cartoon.
Aside from the light difficultly level, the only serious flaw with Neighbors From Hell is that it's just too short. You'll probably finish all seventeen episodes in five or six hours, and even the most casual gamer is unlikely to take more than ten. Difficult missions rarely take more than half a dozen tries.
If you love puzzle-solving games and like the idea of being the star of your own reality television show (or even if you don't) you'll find a lot to like in Neighbors From Hell.
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