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 Hello Neighbor The Secret Neighbor Party Game

What is your creepy neighbor up to? Gather the keys and unlock the basement to find out. But be careful, because not everyone is on your side.

Hello Neighbor: The Secret Neighbor Party Game is a social deduction game in which you’ll be making trades, ferreting out information, and ultimately voting on the players you trust.

Gameplay

Each player is dealt a role card. You look at your role secretly. You are either on the kid team or the neighbor team. The exact number of players on each team varies based on player count. There are two types of neighbors: regular and secret. At the start of the game all the players close their eyes, and the secret neighbor, keeping his eyes closed, puts his thumb up. The player(s) who are regular neighbors open their eyes, sees who is the secret neighbor, and then close their eyes. The secret neighbor then puts his thumb back down and everyone can open their eyes and start the game.

At the beginning of the game, each player is dealt four object cards. There are five types of objects — in order to use their abilities you must collect three copies of a single type.

Each round begins with the trading phase. During this phase, players stand up and walk around to talk to one another and make trades. Trades must always be one for one. You cannot, for example, trade one card for two.

Once everyone has sat down (or a two-minute timer runs out if players have chosen to play with a timer), you move onto the power phase. During the power phase, players may discard a set of three matching cards to use that object’s ability. If more than one player is using a power, they are resolved in the order in which players declare their intentions to use powers.

The box cox card allows you to peek at three role cards, however these cards are shuffled before you look at them so you do not know who they belonged to, and once looked at the same role card cannot be looked at again by another player. The trashcan allows you to force another player to discard his hand, and the flashlight allows you to look at another player’s hand of object cards and steal one. The lever can be played to steal a power, up to three seconds after someone has played their objects and before that power is used. Finally, the magnet lets you take an unclaimed key. If all keys have been claimed you instead steal a key from another player. Depending on player count, you play with one-to-three keys in the game.

Once all the keys in the game have been claimed, at any time during the power phase, you can call for an unlock vote, choosing a player who holds a key. When you call for a vote, you may make a case for why you chose this person (you may nominate yourself). If another person seconds your nomination, all discussion ends and all players vote on whether or not to allow this player to use the key. If the majority of players vote yes, the player with the key reveals his role card. If he was a neighbor, the neighbors immediately win the game. If he was a kid, and all the keys in the game have now been used, then the kids win the game. If there are still keys left in the game, and it was a kid who used the key, then the player’s key is returned to the box, and the game keeps going. That player cannot use another key for the rest of the game as his role has now been revealed. He can, however, still use objects.

After the power phase ends, any players may choose to discard all or none of their object cards. Then all discarded cards are shuffled back into the deck, and each player is dealt cards until they have four cards in hand. Then a new round begins.

Hello Neighbor: The Secret Neighbor Party Game

Review

Hello Neighbor: The Secret Neighbor Party Game is a fun, light social deduction game. The deals you strike and the powers you use all give players some information to work with as well as opportunities to make alliances and bluff. The game plays fairly quickly, keeping things pretty casual, and it’s easy to keep a cap on the debating phase so that things don’t turn acrimonious.

The ability to walk around and talk to other players, with different degrees of secrecy, is an unusual mechanism and a fun one, particularly as the secret neighbor and regular neighbor(s) try to make contact. Other players are going to be watching, and suspicions can be raised if you're seen to be too obviously whispering, so you have to tread carefully. This can also lead to fun opportunities to bluff and, in general, introduces an interesting dynamic to the game. It also makes discussion of trades easier, as you don’t have to wait for other conversations to end at the table before making your own deals.

Needing to get up and walk around does, however, limit the locations you could play this game. While you could, in theory, play the game seated, it’s going to lose what makes it special. This means that you’re not going to be able to play this game as easily at a restaurant or in a setting where you have to remain at a specific location.

The production design is well done, with nice packaging and components. The artwork is a unique style that works well. While the theme is based on a video game, it’s very easy to grasp the nature of the game’s story without being a fan or even familiar with that game. This is a fun, light social deduction game, and if you’re a fan of the genre or looking for a more accessible entry to introduce your friends to it, Hello Neighbor: The Secret Neighbor Party Game is well worth checking out.

Pros: Players get to walk around and have private conversations, players have information to work with before casting votes

Cons: Needs the right space to play

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.