We live in a golden age of indie horror games. All it takes is a bit of MadLibs to come up with something that’s truly disturbing, even if the internet will complain about clones of more successful games. I truly don’t know how else you end up with something ridiculous like My Friendly Neighborhood, a new survival horror game set in a television studio inspired by Sesame Street. I guess we all have different responses to Mister Rogers.
Made by indie developer John Syzmanski, who’s previously made narratively quirky games like Kyle is Famous, My Friendly Neighborhood casts you as a local repairman who’s tasked with figuring out why the old abandoned TV studio is suddenly broadcasting new signals. That’s pretty classic as horror game setups go, sharing some DNA with Bendy and the Ink Machine, which featured a former cartoonist returning to his friend’s shuttered animation studio and discovers a demonic infestation.
Gameplay blends a bit of Resident Evil-style puzzle-solving with lots and lots of shooting at human-sized Muppets, including a faux Ernie and a more generic Muppet girl with pigtails. Syzmanski is adamant that the game will rely on genuine scares rather than gore, but that doesn’t appear to stop the puppets from bending their spines like they’re late for a limbo competition. It seems like multiple copies of each puppet can hunt you at once through the game’s “non-linear” structure.
There’s also a big element of dark humor. Syzmanski has added a mechanical gun called the “Rolodexer” that spits out alphabet cards. The “letter of the day” was never so deadly. Besides sneaking through studio sets and boardrooms, there are weirder environments like an area made of crayon art, much like Elmo’s World, where you take a crayon-drawn “soop pot” and put it in the crayon-drawn sink.
Perhaps most importantly, you’ll have a grid-based inventory to manage all your puppet-slaughtering weapons and items.
My Friendly Neighborhood says it’s “coming soon,” on Steam. I’m eager to see how they’ve corrupted my boy Oscar.