Games that let you perform acts of malicious mischief without actually, y’know, killing people are few and far between, but there’s a certain charm to playing non-lethal tricks or scaring the pants off people. Neighbours from Hell is an old game that lets you ruin your neighbour’s day, reality-show style. Its age shows, without a doubt, but due to its cartoony aesthetic, it hasn’t aged as badly as many of its contemporaries.
The game starts with a three-scenario tutorial, where you get directed through the major concepts of the game – and there aren’t many. The playable character, Woody, will look for items that he can either directly manipulate or use in combination with other items to make the neighbour character angry. In these early levels, you’ll draw on a photograph with a marker, and put marbles on the floor. This isn’t a Rube Goldberg-esque project, here; I have yet to come across a trick that was particularly convoluted.
The trick, of course, is in not getting caught, and in creating enough mayhem to keep people watching. While you left click to move, you can also right click to sneak around, and sometimes, there are conveniently placed wardrobes to hide in. Sure, you may fail a scenario here or there, but once you understand how it works, it’s not particularly challenging.
Which is both the good and bad of it, really. Because the challenge level is so low and the levels so short, you’re only looking at about 6 hours of play – and that’s with the sequel that’s included in the compilation on Steam. Since everything’s scripted (not unlike most reality shows, now that I think of it), there’s no great incentive to replay it either. Sure, you maybe mix it up a bit and do things in a different order, or try to go fast to get perfect scores, but for me, it just doesn’t hold up to repeat playthroughs.
I guess it says something when my primary complaint about a game is that I wish there were more of it. Ten dollars is a little steep for a game this old and with this little content, but if you’re into mayhem, it’s certainly worth picking up on sale. I was surprised to see that it still runs fine on Windows 10, but there are no resolution options, so you’ll be stuck with the default, and that may make it look a little weird if you have a widescreen monitor.