A Preview of My Friendly Neighborhood

Ashley_Buckwell
edited August 2023 in Gaming

When it comes to horror games, few can hold a light to Resident Evil 4, although several other titles have had a similar impact on the genre, including Silver Chains, The Evil Within, Sons of the Forest, and Five Nights at Freddy’s. Now, a soon-to-be-released title is stepping up as the perfect game for horror fans looking for solid and surprising scares—without the typical accompanying gore. My Friendly Neighborhood is a highly entertaining pseudo-horror game that features a colorful cast of puppet friends turned adversaries. Read on to see what this game entails and why you are sure to want to try it out.

My Friendly Neighborhood storyline and gameplay

My Friendly Neighborhood is a first-person survival horror game that merges the likes of Poppy Playtime and High on Life into one quirky, albeit oddly creepy adventure. The story goes something like this: an educational television program called “The Friendly Neighborhood,” featuring a colorful cast of kooky puppets, was once a hugely popular Saturday morning show. For years, the show’s puppets delighted children across the nation; however, over time, interest in the show waned, and eventually the show’s production studio closed its doors for good, leaving the puppets abandoned. Except recently, the studio has somehow come back to life and started broadcasting The Friendly Neighborhood on repeat. Yet something’s amiss with the new show... are the cast eating each other?!

Thinking the antenna on top of the main building has started broadcasting old episodes, the city sends Handyman Gordon to the decommissioned studio to straighten things out. It doesn’t take Gordon long to learn that the typically friendly neighborhood has become a lot less welcoming. Think Sesame Street, but if Cookie Monster had dropped the first half of his name and Big Bird had decided Elmo looked like a snack. In My Friendly Neighborhood, players step into Gordon’s work-boots and must fend off ferocious friends, solve a number of perilous puzzles, and uncover the truth behind the terrifying environment.

That extremely strong premise paves the way for plenty of cartoonish shenanigans, with several references to the old Sesame Street show that many readers will remember watching in their youth. However, whereas games such as Resident Evil are known for their dark tones and terrifying moments, My Friendly Neighborhood mostly makes light of the genre, with its brightly colored environments and extremely silly antagonists. For example, in one section, players have to avoid the attention of a massive Big Bird–like abomination that is trying to devour Gordon as he collects letter tiles to pass a spelling test. In another section, players will find themselves in sewers that serve as the domain to an extremely Grouch-y tenant attempting to bonk Gordon over the head with a wrench.

John and Evan Szymanski are the creative minds behind My Friendly Neighborhood. The two-brother development team first teased the project back in 2021, at which time the publisher, DreadXP, posted a couple of trailers to show fans what they could expect when the game was eventually completed.

Game mechanics and experience

The game offers nonlinear survival horror gameplay, where players must explore diverse environments, solve puzzles, and use unique weapons to survive. The main focus of gameplay revolves around solving puzzles to be able to escape the various environments while avoiding detection by the roaming ill-fated puppets.

Assisting Gordon in his escape from each environment is his trusty toolbox. Acting as an inventory, the toolbox features a limited amount of space that is represented with a grid. Carefully managing this space is integral to seeing success in the game, particularly as some of the more useful items take up two slots in that grid system.

Two of the weapons that we have seen are guns that fire letters of the alphabet as ammunition. One of the guns is modeled after a pistol (called the Rolodexer), and the other is modeled after a shotgun and is initially hidden somewhere in the game and has to be discovered before it can be used. Although players will see no dead bodies or dismemberment in this game, they are guaranteed an intense and painful experience engaging in battles to defend against their new puppet pals who demand hugs.

Much of the time in the game is spent alternately gunning down and running away from the sentient props. Players also have to navigate around sewers to find various tools that help them progress while making sure to keep enough room in their inventory to keep both the new items and enough ammo and healing items to see them safely around. Other conundrums abound, including memory and number puzzles.

The puppets come in several varieties: regular “neighbors,” each with deceptively amicable names like Norman and Liliana, and “main stage” puppets that accompany each new area. The rotund Goblette, for instance, charges forward, arms outstretched, threatening to scoop you up in its gigantic mouth. Puppets can be defeated in combat, although scarce ammo and other resources often encourage players to find alternative, safer paths forward. 

Sound and graphics

When not aware of the player (and even when chasing Gordon, to a lesser extent), each puppet delivers a variety of monologues at all times in peppy voices. What at first sounds like your normal childish fare on subjects like making friends or feeding animals at a park slowly reveals itself to be a twisted array of truly unhinged comments, such as instructions on how to eat your own hands or the importance of finding friends that will forgive you for beating the crap out of them.

The gun models are visually impressive and really stick out, looking as though they’ve been cobbled together from office equipment. The environments that players need to escape from vary between plush corridors of executive lobbies, dank depths of underground sewers, and the more unusual sets of the titular television show. Hardly the Spencer Mansion; most areas may look light and breezy, but they contain compact, detailed environments that require back and forth to get through, and many secrets have been hidden in the game for players to discover.

My Friendly Neighborhood release date

My Friendly Neighborhood will be launching on PC via Steam on July 18, 2023. It will also be heading to Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5, although DreadXP has yet to confirm when exactly that is likely to be. A demo of the game has been available for download on Steam since early 2022, so players can check out the game now, before the full version releases later this month.

Overall, My Friendly Neighborhood is a hearty mix of hilarity and heart attacks. The puppets have wacky and hilarious dialogue spoken in quintessential puppet voices, and this in combination with their floppy, colorful bodies is effectively juxtaposed with the ever-present danger in the game, making for an immensely entertaining handful of hours. My Friendly Neighborhood promises to be one of the more unique and intriguing horror games on the market. For those who enjoy this type of game, be sure to check out the Xbox Game Pass for even more exciting games in one simple subscription, and see why Acer is an official sponsor of the Xbox Game Pass. 

Ashley is a technology writer who is interested in computers and software development. He is also a fintech researcher and is fascinated with emerging trends in DeFi, blockchain, and bitcoin. He has been writing, editing, and creating content for the ESL industry in Asia for eight years, with a special focus on interactive, digital learning.

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