Welcome Back to the Friendly Neighborhood
As a fan of the survival horror genre, I’m always open to titles that try to bring a new spin on a familiar setup. My Friendly Neighborhood is one such title that takes the concept of a horror game based on childhood nostalgia and makes it more like Resident Evil in regards to the gameplay. The results are an engaging and thrilling experience for horror gamers.
My Friendly Neighborhood is what happens when you want to set Resident Evil in the world of Sesame Streets. It takes an aspect that defined our childhood and builds a horror survival experience around it. At the same time, it opts for a more traditional experience that we are familiar with.
A Beloved Show Returns
The Friendly Neighborhood! was once a beloved children’s show until it was canceled. This led to the closure of the production company and the abandonment of its studio. Fast forward to 1993, and unexpectedly, the old episodes begin broadcasting over the airwaves. As this unexpected broadcast disrupts regular television programming, urgent measures are required to shut it off.
In response to this disruption, a handyman named Gordon is assigned to disable the broadcast. Upon arriving at the deserted studio, an eerie atmosphere surrounds him from the very beginning. As he steps inside, he quickly learns the old puppets are alive while something sinister is going on. Players must uncover the mystery of The Friendly Neighborhood! while finding a way to shut down the broadcast.
At first glance, My Friendly Neighborhood looks like a game that follows in the footsteps of Five Nights at Freddy’s. There are killer puppets and animatronics but those are the only similarities they share. The game feels more like an upbeat version of Resident Evil and BioShock. I say this as a compliment because it does it so well. This is made possible by finding the perfect balance between keeping it PG and being scary.
Right Tools to Survive
At its core, My Friendly Neighborhood is a light hearted themed first-person horror survival. It has all the elements and gameplay that have defined the genre but only it scales back on the darkness. Instead, it’s a more off-beat nightmare and the gameplay is built around this concept. There is combat and limited resources but you don’t kill anyone and don’t expect any shocking moments.
Gameplay is the classic horror survival setup. Limited resources such as ammo, health, and inventory space remain crucial factors that add tension. Saving is limited to a few spots and it comes at a cost. Players will need to gather resources that could help them but they need to be used wisely. Combat takes a two-prong approach, first, you subdue them with a weapon. Nest you bound them up with duct tape, but chose wisely supply is limited.
Part of the horror survival experience is solving puzzles and there are plenty at the MFN Studio. While some puzzles are straightforward and easily solvable, others demand deeper contemplation and problem-solving skills. Then there are those puzzles that will just have you go look up the answers online because you’re done thinking. Regardless they all add to the overall experience.
Finally, one can’t help but appreciate the nods to other works. Besides the obvious homages to Resident Evil, one could also find little tributes to titles like BioShock.
A Dull Wrench
My only real issue is how janky the melee combat could be. While this might be tolerable in other games, My Friendly Neighborhood heavily revolves around resource conservation, requiring melee combat to be a crucial aspect of the experience. Unfortunately, executing a melee attack requires the player to be precisely positioned. Failure to do so could render the attack ineffective against the puppets. Moreover, there are instances where it appears as if you’ve successfully hit the puppets, but it inexplicably has no effect on them.
Don’t let this one problem deter you from enjoying it as it’s a forgivable issue. Overall, if you are a fan of horror survival then this is an experience you’re going to enjoy. It has everything that defined the classics like Resident Evil but with puppets. It may sound silly but the scares are truly earned during one’s playthrough.
Living Your Childhood
My Friendly Neighborhood takes a cultural hallmark that defined our childhood and crafts a horror survival experience around it. This a horror survival one will be all too familiar with but the nightmare has been replaced by a more light hearted environment. It’s still scary but the terror required more effort than in most games.
Disclaimer: UberStrategist provided the game used for this review.
This review is the critique and thoughts of one writer. If you want to see how other critics felt then check it out on OpenCritic.
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