It seems my fellow writers at TechRaptor love to scare me with the things I fear, so I'm sure this is going to add more fuel to the fire: Puppets are freaky as hell. But, just like how we watch horror movies, we are attracted to the things that frighten us, so I decided to get my hands on My Friendly Neighborhood at PAX West 2022. As you might expect, My Friendly Neighborhood features freaky puppets out to kill you, but on top of a few scares is a rock solid horror game drawing similarities to one of the genre's greatest titles.
My Friendly Neighborhood's Residential Roots
My Friendly Neighborhood comes from the minds of John and Evan Szymanski, co-developers and siblings to Dusk's David Szymanski. My demo took me through winding corridors of what I assume is an old broadcasting station. For some inexplicable reason, it's now filled with puppets that want to kill me, and I'm armed with some strange gun that shoots out cards. The premise may be as crazy as it sounds, but I found the gameplay to be quite grounded.
In actuality, My Friendly Neighborhood appears to draw a lot of inspiration from the Resident Evil series. In terms of gunplay, ammo for your card-shooter is extremely limited and each shot needs to count. These puppets will stand in hallways chattering to themselves until you get near them, then they'll chase you relentlessly. One option is to stand your ground and take them out. The puppets aren't truly "dead" and can only be disposed of by binding them up with duct tape. If you leave them be on the ground and move on to a new room, they'll reset in a new position and attack you on the next go around.
Thankfully, going from room to room opens up a new instance where the puppets can't follow you. They're not going to open doors and continue their chase, much like Resident Evil's zombies. And similar to Resident Evil, combat is only one small component of the gameplay. Exploration is key, requiring you to look for resources like duct tape, ammo, and items or clues to access different rooms. Even saving your progress is dependent on coins you find to cash in a save at a machine. These operate in identical fashion to Resident Evil's ink ribbons.
Until you actually get your hands on My Friendly Neighborhood, you might be deceived by what this game has to offer.
My demo with My Friendly Neighborhood shows a lot of promise. It may not be the most complex game ever, but puzzles will probably rack your brain for a bit. One puzzle I solved involved punch cards, a bit of very simple math, and proper awareness of environmental clues. I can see where things may get a little more complicated while looking at a useful map I found during my exploration. The map highlights areas I've explored, and there were plenty of locked doors and pathways to find. Let's not forget the killer puppets attempting to stall my progress.
Until you actually get your hands on My Friendly Neighborhood, you might be deceived by what this game has to offer. I can't say I put a lot of thought into it being much more than a horror shooter with puppets. As it turns out, My Friendly Neighborhood is turning out to be a worthy homage to horror games such as Resident Evil. I'd even go so far as to say killer puppets are scarier than some silly ol' zombie.
TechRaptor's My Friendly Neighborhood preview was conducted on a demo booth at PAX West 2022.
Disclaimer: Our reviews editor, Sam Guglielmo, works at publisher Dread XP but did not edit or view this piece prior to publication.