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Good Premise, Bad Follow-Through

From Next Door is a short mystery-horror game with a really cool and unique premise-- what about the house next to the haunted house?

I thought this was a really neat idea considering most games involve the main character moving into a haunted house, while poor Namie simply moves in next to a haunted house. It attempts to address something that a lot of 'haunted house' media doesn't so I enjoyed that.

That being said... I ended up being a little disappointed with the game. Namie seems reasonable at first but
her self-doubt seemed ridiculous and really hard to buy. She sees the monster come in the window, is chased out of her house and is knocked out, and still decides to stay in the house. Even decides to hide in the closet of the room where the monster enters and try to get a picture of it no less! And all of this after being warned by the previous tenant and finding newspaper clippings about strange happenings in the house. Despite the fact that the creature leaves gross footprints and gunk all over her house she feels she 'doesn't have enough evidence to justify moving out.' I found that really stupid of her and hard to believe. I would have gotten the hell out!

Another problem I had with the game was the ending.
I wonder if perhaps there were other endings, and this was just a bad one, but I couldn't seem to get anything else to happen. The fact that Namie ends up going down with the monster was extremely dissatisfying for me. I became attached to Namie and it was clear that her family and coworkers really cared about her. Her death seemed pointless. If she had set the house on fire to get rid of the creature and chosen to die to secure that it was dead, I may have been able to accept that, but it seemed just as plausible to me that she could have ran away before the monster grabbed her and gotten away.

All of that aside, there are a lot of really awesome things about this game. The art is absolutely incredible-- I'd say it's the best art I've ever seen in an rpgmaker game second only to Dreaming Mary. I liked the design of the house and the two characters we see full art of, Namie and Honda-san, are gorgeous. I think the muted palette added a lot to the game as well, and
the design of the monster was perfectly scary-- gruesome, but in an uncanny valley sort of way. I can really see the Junji Ito influence.

The puzzles were straightforward without being too easy-- I got to use my head a little bit and I found it interesting and fun exploring the house and piecing things together. The way the story played out was really well paced and the mystery behind the house was genuinely interesting.
I'm still really curious about the monster. Why didn't it grab Namie after she hit her head on the pavement? It can obviously go outside to some extent because it has to hop between the houses. And what does it do with its victims? Are they having a tea party in there? Why does it want them?

While I did not play with the recommended headphones because I'm a ninny, I have to say the sound design is masterful in a number of ways. The noises the monster makes are absolutely disgusting and ghastly and everything is perfectly timed. I liked that there isn't a ton of music in the game, especially during the really tense scenes, but the music that there is is good-- it put me just a little on edge without being too heavy handed.

Overall, From Next Door is a good little mystery game. It can be played in about an hour so it's not a big time commitment. Would I recommend this game to others? Honestly, no. For me, the good parts of the game didn't really make up for the issues I had with the story. Still, for someone who wants a beautifully illustrated game with a unique premise and inspiring sound design, who would perhaps be more interested in that aspect of things, it really excels in those areas.


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Thank you so much for the review! Seeing the sound design mentioned makes me happy because I put so much work on that, haha

About the ending,

there were other endings, yes! And not all of them ended up with Namie's demise. There was also a way for you to decide to get the hell out of the house on the last day instead of collecting evidence, although on hindsight I should have made that option easier to get. Oops?
Oh, that's interesting! I am gonna play this again and see what I can do! Thank you!
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