My Friendly Neighborhood is more than a Resident Evil-inspired first-person shooter with a Sesame Street aesthetic.
Set in a post-war setting, My Friendly Neighborhood places players into the shoes of Gordon the janitor, the only real human presence in the game. Gordon is tasked with one final job before the end of his shift, which unfortunately happens to be deep in defunct puppet territory. Most of the game occurs inside the TV lot of the Sesame Street-adjacent program, with the player gradually unlocking access to the entirety of the interconnected map, including studios, theatres, back alleys and underground infrastructures.
Upon first boot, My Friendly Neighborhood’s visuals may appear dated, similar to something found in a pre-rendered background from a game from the 90s. Still, ultimately they fit the unsettling vibe of the game that feels reminiscent of something like Five Nights at Freddie’s. The lo-fi aesthetic also translates into the simplistic 60s-inspired puppets, with the main humanoid puppets feeling wholly inspired by the works of Jim Henson, which the Szymanski brothers seem to acknowledge throughout, as My Friendly Neighborhood features references to his many works within the game.
My Friendly Neighborhood also fully embraces other popular culture tropes, such as the Candle Cove creepypasta, which is in-game under a different name and is featured as a now-defunct TV show composed of some of the MFN cast members.
“My Friendly Neighborhood is more than a Resident Evil-inspired first-person shooter with a Sesame Street aesthetic.”
Gameplay in My Friendly Neighborhood is a mix of old-school survival horror with some Metroidvania-inspired backtracking elements that make for a rewarding and fun experience for fans of both genres. Interesting twists to the formula that help MFN stand out, outside its silly yet unsettling aesthetic, is its approach to limited resources.
Like classic Resident Evil fashion, My Friendly Neighbourhood forgoes ink ribbons for oversized nickles, which are required to use the various save and health stations present in the game. Additionally, simply downing an enemy won’t incapacitate them for good, instead requiring the player to bind them using duct tape, a limited resource that takes up valuable real estate in Gordon’s briefcase.
“My Friendly Neighborhood stands out by nailing its writing and voice-acting chops…”
Finally, all weapons (maybe outside the wrench) feel deliberately non-lethal and instead feature scores of the alphabet in the place of bullets and shrapnel to overwhelm enemies with, acting as a fun nod to the affinity shared between puppets and the alphabet in popular children’s programming.
Another welcome twist in My Friendly Neighborhood is its use of item management, which of course, isn’t anything new, but it is handled in real-time, which definitely adds to the game’s tension. Finally, My Friendly Neighborhood stands out by nailing its writing and voice-acting chops, with each character sounding appropriately overt in its unhinged friendliness and line delivery, with dialogue that doesn’t quite feel sinister but still distinctly manic.
Ultimately, My Friendly Neighborhood does an excellent job paying homage to the survival horror genre while creating its own identity that blurs the line between hilarious and nerve-wracking.