Hello Neighbor: The Secret Neighbor Party Game

You may have played the video game Hello Neighbor on your computer or console. Developed by Dynamic Pixels and published by tinyBuild, it's a stealth horror game where you've heard screams coming from a neighbour's basement and you're trying to sneak into the basement to rescue the victim who has been imprisoned there. In Hello Neighbor, you have to break into the neighbour's house and use objects and solve puzzles to find the keys to the basement, all while evading the sinister neighbour and avoiding the traps they have set. In the video game, you're a child (at least initially) so the game has a Home Alone/Stranger Things vibe to it.

In Hello Neighbor: The Secret Neighbor Party Game, designers Juliana Moreno Patel and Ariel Rubin and publishers Arcane Wonders have taken the basic premise of Hello Neighbor and fashioned it into a light hidden-role game which offers a couple of twists to the countless Werewolf variants on the market. Artwork is by Stephen Gibson, following the art and style familiar from the video game.

In this hidden-role game for 5-10 players, the majority of the players will have secret roles showing them to be kids, and one or two (depending on the number of players) will be neighbours. In all player counts, one player will have a card designating them as a secret neighbour. At the start of the game, with eyes shut Werewolf style, the neighbours identify themselves to each other, except that the secret neighbour keeps their eyes closed: so the other neighbours know who the secret neighbour is but the secret neighbour doesn't know which other player(s) are on their side. Oddly, this feels more like you're playing not so much as the Secret Neighbour but as the Blind Neighbour.

Players are each dealt a hand of object cards. You need a set of three matching object cards to be able to enact that object's power. The Flashlight lets you look at another player's hand and steal a card; the Trashcan lets you force a player to discard their entire hand; the Magnet allows you to take an unclaimed Key or steal a Key from another player; the Box lets you see three other players' role cards (shuffled - so you don't know whose card is whose) or move a Key; and the Lever lets you steal a power within 3 seconds of it being announced.

There's a chance that a player will happen to have been dealt a hand with three matching object cards but it's likely you'll need to trade with other players to try to get a set. The game sets aside a two-minute slot (timer recommended) for players to make one-for-one swaps. Honesty is not a requirement and cards are swapped face down, so I may not give you the card I claimed to have offered you...

As you may have guessed, the chunky plastic Keys are the key. The number of Keys in the game depends on the number of players (with 5, there's just one Key; two Keys with 6 players and three Keys with 7 or more players). Once the Keys have all been 'found', players vote on whether a player with a Key can use it. To win, the kids have to be the ones to use all the Keys - and in games where there is more than one Key, each Key has to be used by a different kid because using the Key immediately identifies whether you are a kid or neighbour. If any Key is ever used by a neighbour (secret or otherwise) then it's Game Over for the kids and the neighbours win.

This all makes for a light hidden role party game that's at its best at higher player counts where you have all three Keys in play. Hello Neighbor: The Secret Neighbor Party Game has been shaved of any horror element and so is readily playable by actual kids. Many will find it easier to get into than other hidden-role games.

You learn about others by the way they handle the swaps: behave too underhandedly and players may not trust you when voting on whether or not you can use a Key. And in The Secret Neighbor Party Game there can be real tension over when to use the powers you have by dint of having collected a set. You may have three Magnet cards needed to claim a Key but you may hesitate to use them because you fear that another player has a Lever... Just try not to let this apprehension grind down too slow what is intended as a light filler-length game.

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