My Friendly Neighborhood PAX East 2023

PAX EAST 2023: ‘My Friendly Neighborhood’ Offers a Horrifying Day in the Neighborhood

What does a title like My Friendly Neighborhood conjure up for you? Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood most likely, or Sesame Street, perhaps? You picture a nice children’s show involving kindhearted puppets, colorful sets, and the precious knowledge of how to count from one to ten. But what if those puppets were murderous, those sets held puzzles, and the only counting you’ll be doing is counting down how much ammo you have left? My Friendly Neighborhood gives a preview of that experience today at PAX East.

The parody-horror game tasks players with exploring the abandoned set of a Saturday morning puppet show where something has gone terribly wrong. Developed by John and Evan Szymanski and published by DreadXP, the indie horror game takes content inspiration from children’s shows but gameplay inspiration from your favorite horror titles.

“It’s an intersection of a bunch of stuff that I like,” John told me in regards to the inspirations behind the My Friendly Neighborhood. “Survival horror, but things that aren’t so much gruesome but creepy.”

I got this vibe from my playthrough of the demo. Tasked with finding eight blocks with letters on them, I explored a section of the eerie set. I went into colorful laundromats, shops, townhouses, and other buildings out of a children’s show. Along the way, I avoided the puppets. These wandered around the set, spewing lines about wanting me to learn and become educated. But I didn’t want to learn what they were teaching, so I shot them with blocks of my own fired from a makeshift gun.

Sadly, I didn’t find every letter before the demo ended. John reassured me that most people don’t, with four being about the average. Two of the letters require a key to get to them, and one is apparently diabolical to find. I spent much of the time battling these puppets, and John explained that the PAX demo has more of an action-orientation. But the full game will consist of “combat, puzzles, and exploration.”

Players can currently check out a less action-oriented demo on Steam, which came out last year. Since then, the game has grown quite a bit. My Friendly Neighborhood will arrive sometime this year on PC, with the team shooting for a summer release date. Until then, players can wishlist the game on Steam and check out the earlier demo there.

And don’t worry, neither demo features “Gobblette,” which I am told is the scariest puppet in the game. It’s not a beautiful day in the neighborhood at all.