My Friendly Neighborhood from John Szymanski, Evan Szymanski and publisher DreadXP is probably one of the most unusual survival horror games I've ever played, with a comical setting that's really worth exploring.
While it is a horror game, it's not the kind of horror where you can expect lots of awful things to happen. It's not bloody and gory, and instead relies on the atmosphere and some fun jump scares. Featuring a cast of puppets, set in a world where everyone's apparent favourite Saturday morning show was shut down. However, it begins broadcasting again and you get sent in to take down the transmitter. Something is really wrong with these puppets though, and they all seem to want to violently hug you.
Think Sesame Street but…horror. Or The Muppets if you're more familiar with that, blended together with the horror elements of games like Resident Evil, complete with inventory management. The design of the game and the puppets is simply fantastic, you really get a truly creepy feel from it in a way that's still surprisingly light-hearted but also dark. It's weird alright? But good weird.
Check out some footage and thoughts on Steam Deck:
While at it's core it's a survival-horror, it's also a puzzle game. You'll be running around this TV studio dealing with the puppets, knocking them down and watching them fly across the screen from your weapon (which is hilarious every time) and then hunting for items to get through different doors. It's truly clever, and I love that you can tape-up the puppets so they don't keep coming back to give you a hug. Even when taped-up though, they don't stop talking, they're truly possessed.
- A colorful cast of puppet friends turned adversaries (and maybe turned friends again!)
- Non-linear, survival horror gameplay. Make sure to check your map!
- Unique weapons like the Rolodexer. Do you know your ABCs? You better - it's your ammo.
- An array of puzzles in the vein of the survival horror greats.
- A multitude of diverse environments, from the "BTS" Ray's Workshop to cardboard crayon halls
- A grid-based real-time inventory, 'cause that's just way better
- Post-game Neighborhorde mode!
I think the only part I didn't particularly enjoy is the save system requiring coins to use at specific save points, which can result in some lost progress when you've had one too many hugs from those creepy chattering puppets. Their constant nattering can get a little annoying, but not overly so. Nice to see such a normal protagonist too, you're basically just a janitor sent in to turn something off and end up fighting for your life against puppets like out of a child's nightmare.
It works great on Steam Deck and desktop Linux (Kubuntu 23.10) with Proton 8. For Steam Deck the only change needed is just to bring down the shadows, which brings up performance quite a lot.
If you're in need of a new game for spooky season, My Friendly Neighborhood is a great choice. It has an Overwhelmingly Positive user rating on Steam for good reason, lots of fun to be had in this one.
Available to buy on Steam.