When I was a kid, my parents used to force me to play outside because otherwise I would have spent every waking hour inside playing video games. I'm a gamer through-and-through, what can I say? When I was forced to brave sunlight, I usually came up with some ridiculous scenarios involving imaginary monsters and weapons that consisted of anything lying around in the garage.
Neighborhorde is a labor of love that channels that nostalgic feeling of playing with your friends and coming up with the most ridiculous scenarios imaginable. This 4-player co-op shooter features everything from robots, to zombies, to lunch ladies and disembodied feet. Does it manage to nail that classic nostalgic feel, or is it too chaotic for its own good? Let's find out!
Fight Together or Die Alone
Neighborhorde is a couch co-op shooter that runs on the strength of its premise. You play as one of four different animal friends seeking to defend their neighborhood before bedtime.
There's never an explanation for the insane enemies you face, but it's heavily insinuated that these are the imaginings of the friends themselves come to life. Before each wave, you see a scribbled drawing of your next set of foes on a piece of notebook paper.
It brought a smile to my face every time, mostly because it reminded me of the ridiculous things we used to imagine fighting as kids. The ridiculous factor is also excellent here, as the enemies perfectly walk the line between utterly insane and hilarious.
Not knowing which enemy would come up next was always a fun feeling. At certain milestones (surviving several waves) you also fight some pretty insane bosses. When I first played Neighborhorde, it was with my girlfriend Christina, but we also sampled it with a total of four people in the same room, and this is where the game truly shines.
When you're playing with less than four people, bots help you out, but they're not incredibly good, nor are they skilled enough to really make a difference. A full set of four players is the best way to play this little gem.
Let's find out if the gameplay matches the nostalgia factor.
Weapons and Superpowers Galore: Time to Go Nuts!
Neighborhorde knows exactly what gamers want from a co-op arcade shooter: variety. With over 80 different weapons and superpowers, every game truly feels unique. The weapons match the enemies in terms of variety as well.
One moment you'll be shooting enemies with a marshmallow gun, and the next you're tossing firecrackers while your buddy takes out robots with a laser pointer. It's fast-paced, frantic, and really fun.
The slow, but steady process of unlocking more superpowers turns the tide in your favor, but only just. You'll be grateful that the you can dash faster, or that your friends can heal you faster, but at no point does Neighborhorde become easy.
The intense difficulty is both a boon and a curse for the game. On the one hand, it's awesome that you'll really be pushed to the limit, but on the other hand, seeing all the game has to offer is extremely difficult unless you have a full team of dedicated players, and even then it's not easy.
Some of your luck is based on chance. You're only as good as your weapons after all, and the sheer variety means your favorites won't always be there when you need them. Also, limited ammo for the weapons means that you'll need to quickly look for presents which can be broken open for new weapons.
You'll choose what can spawn each round or "night" as it were, but you won't start with anything but your fists and a few seconds to prepare. On the one hand, I understand the limited ammo, as it forces you to use different weapons, but too often I went down because I was backed into a corner, out of ammo, and all the presents were spawning at the center of the level.
Thankfully, Neighborhorde encourages teamwork in a really cool way. The general vicinity around your players is called "the friend zone" (which is hilarious), and if you all stay within it, you steadily heal over time. This encourages you to stick together, and allows you to quickly revive players who go down.
You'll collect tickets each game, which can be used to unlock new content in the in-game store, so that will keep you playing for some time. Combine this with the sheer amount of powers, enemies, and weapons, and you have a lot of value for the relatively low price point.
Really, the only complaints I have with Neighborhorde are very small. For starters, the sheer difficulty and randomness of the weapon drops can seem unfair, and that difficulty makes it less fun to play with bots and more fun with actual people, but you'll need four controllers to make that happen.
The chaotic nature of the gameplay also means that there will be times when you lose track of your character in a sea of writhing enemies and flying ammunition. It can get a little distracting with all the colors at play.
These are just nitpicks though, overall the game is really fun and nails a nostalgic feel of playing with your friends outside back in the day. Now, let's talk presentation.
Low-Poly Graphics, Meet Pure Nostalgia
The presentation is simple in Neighborhorde, and that's both a good and bad thing. It's good because it gets the point across while keeping the gameplay smooth and fun, regardless of how much is happening on screen.
The bad side, is that the low-poly nature of the graphics can result in my aforementioned complaint where my character would seemingly bleed into the chaos and I would lose track of where I was. Now, this is something that gets better with time and practice, but if the characters stood out more, or perhaps more effective markers over their heads, it wouldn't be as much of an issue.
Other than that, Neighborhorde's presentation perfectly nails the feel of playing outside and fighting the craziest things your brain could come up with. The groovy soundtrack does an excellent job of keeping the pacing high and the action intense.
The notebook paper presentation in the menus is also an excellent detail. At the end of the day, Neighborhorde success because of its nostalgia factor and the sheer variety of weapons and powers.
It's best played with a group, but even if that only happens once and a while, for its low asking price, this is something you should absolutely have in your library for those times you're cracking open a cold one with the boys.
Final Score: 8.0/10
A copy of Neighborhorde was provided to PS4 Experts for review purposes
Article by - Bradley Ramsey
Insert date - 6/8/17