‘Another indie horror game?!’ I hear you cry, ‘And it isn’t even Halloween!’ Well, in that respect, you would be right but horror games are fun all year round…sometimes. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to yet another free indie horror review. This time, I will be delving into the rather terrifying RPG Maker world of From Next Door. A game about a girl moving into a new house only to discover something sinister is waiting just outside her window. So, without any further ado, let’s jump in.
You play as the young Namie Matsuda moving into her new home whilst she is taking a much needed break from her work life. However, once Namie moves in, she finds one of the doors is mysteriously locked. But, when she eventually finds a way to open it, a bigger mystery waits inside. The only window into that room is boarded shut. The neighbourhood seems friendly enough. You have a nice neighbour called Hanae Honda. And the other house next to yours isn’t out of the ordinary. Except for the fact it has no windows.
Namie soon becomes obsessed with discovering the truth. Why did the last tenant leave so suddenly? Was it perhaps because the house next door only has one window. One window that looks directly into the room in your house with the boarded up window. Namie foolishly removed the boards. But, that was a mistake.
It isn’t long before strange noises can be heard scuttling around your house. And that window that overlooks the house next door, mysteriously opens on its own. The truth must be discovered. But, are you going to be the one to find out just what resides in that dark place next to your house?
I liked the story in this even if it was a little vague at times. It is creepy and well thought out, you even get to read a lot of notes to discover the history of the house next door. But, nothing is ever concretely stated. It is really up to you to decide if the information that you have read has anything to do with what is happening in the story. Aside from the rather vague endings, it is decent story line for a free game.
If you have ever played an RPG Maker game before then you will be set. ‘From Next Door’ has pretty standard game play. A couple of small puzzles here and there. One puzzle that is rather difficult to understand to begin with until it seems overwhelmingly obvious. Other than that, there isn’t really anything spectacular about the gameplay. The tension is well built up and the atmosphere works well. Unfortunately, as is the case with most games like this, there is a lot of reading. Especially, towards the end of the game when you are finally figuring out the mystery of it all.
Graphics & Sound
As you might expect, the graphics of From Next Door are not spectacular. However, in the context of the game they are actually pretty good. I was pleasantly surprised that the hand drawn elements were very well done. I also have to say that the green mono-chrome colour scheme is rather effective. It goes to show that not every game needs to be beautifully coloured to have an impact. Although there aren’t many sounds in this game, they are pretty effective. Especially when the ‘creature’ finds its way into your house. That scratching will keep me up at night.
Very basic controls as it is made in RPG Maker. It doesn’t try to do anything clever with the controls because it isn’t necessary. Almost doesn’t seem necessary to review this section but I will anyway. It may be simple but it works and that is all that matters.
From Next Door does become frustrating at times. When it isn’t obvious what is supposed to happen next, it can feel stupidly difficult. There was a point towards the end of the game when I thought I knew what I was supposed to do, but it turned out you had to do several other things before hand. However, the most difficult part of this game is discovering all the endings. There are, from what I have seen, about four different endings and some are easier to find than others. Although not a particularly difficult game (it isn’t a rogue-alike after all) it does occasionally have you pulling your hair out because it doesn’t give you much help.
There are a couple of chances for replayability for From Next Door. As I have said, there are several endings to the game. So, if you really wanted to you could go back through just to find them all. However, this game is not that long. It is perhaps an hour at most. Now, for a free game, an hour is pretty generous. But, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for replayability down the line. There may come a time when you look through your games list, spot this one and think ‘I might give that another go’. Until you realise how terrifying it was, shut the game down, delete it and never think about it again. But, like I say, if you are a completionist then there is an opportunity for you to find all the endings.