Having enjoyed playing through Hello Neighbor 2 back in December 2022, I was excited to hear that the ex-Stadia exclusive game Hello Engineer: Scrap Machines Constructor was coming to PC and consoles last month. Developed by tinyBuild, this construction puzzle game set in the same universe has players building vehicles of all shapes and sizes to tackle obsctacles along their escape from sections of a theme park, with the evil Mr Peterson looming in the background.
Set in the only theme park in Raven Brooks, there are three themed areas for players to navigate and the graphics detail suits the aesthetic of the Hello Neighbor games. There’s the racetrack, a wild west area and a space zone for you to build vehicles utilising a pretty cool construction interface. Starting simple and guided by tutorial prompts, we snap together sections and pieces to a chassis that contains a seat. We can tune engine power, wire up steering to axles and hook up batteries to power some weird and wacky contraptions.
Navigating various obstacles is the name of the game such as narrow sections, wide gaps with thin traps, and steep curved banks, it’s not as easy as it looks. In fact, it got downright frustrating at times with the floaty and bouncy driving. Add in having to dodge traps set by Mr Peterson and it the fun can be sapped pretty quick. The contraptions we build are flimsy and sensitive to control, and when you think you have lined everything up, one slip or wrong turn can send you upside down or get stuck in a rut. When you do get it lined up nicely, there are little ridges on the wood planks and with the floatiness of driving, these are enough to throw your tryes off the track and you’ll get stuck. Thankfully you can reset your progress and the timer resets also, but it did get frustrating early into the game.
When you do finish a level in Hello Engineer: Scrap Machines Constructor your time is kept, and you are rewarded with blueprints for more scrap parts to use in vehicle construction. Each successful run sees you having to construct more complex vehicles and navigating more difficult terrain. Mud was the hardest to navigate, particularly when it had speed bumps in it. There are also banked corners with rails above them, so you need to build a pole with a hook on it, then use speed into the corners. It’s a laugh the first few times you play these levels but gets grating pretty quickly if you haven’t balanced the vehicle construction evenly.
Once the tutorial tips stopped I struggled to remember how to put all the pieces together, though there is a handy in-game reference guide to refer to. It was also quite fiddly trying to snap small pieces to bigger ones, or trying to get a pole to line up central to a tyre or axle. I had to drop item pieces and aim at their ends to try and get more precision placement. You can easily swap out parts and start again, but when a few pieces snap together, it’s easy to accidentally delete a whole section when you just wanted to remove one small part.
You can duplicate whole sections though, so once you have agonised over getting one side of the vehicle sorted out, it’s easy to duplicate and rotate those pieces to connect to the other side. I do appreciate the tidbits of engineering education here for someone like me who is not that mechanically minded. It’s simplified but helped me alot when creating some of the vehicles and connecting engines to a battery and then moving parts to power them. After the tutorials I did struggle to remember simple things like how to make an axle turn, and so on. That’s the beauty of being able to play these games in co-op, so I bought a friend in and he helped me figure more of these things all out.
There is 20+ story missions in Hello Engineer: Scrap Machines Constructor but there really isn’t much story telling done, just changes of complexity in the constructions required and the well-detailed scenery. I do really like the art style of the environments around the track, and the vehicle detail is crisp enough, especially the smaller parts. Seeing darts sticking out of the sides of the wheels certainly adds a fun aesthetic charm to the game. There is a sandbox mode too that was a lot of fun for a short while. This allows you to freely construct your weirdest and wackiest vehicles and explore the area looking for mysteries and challenges. However, the novelty wore off pretty quickly for us unfortunately.
Overall, Hello Engineer: Scrap Machines Constructor is a difficult game to recommend. If you’re invested in the Hello Neighbor world and like construction sandboxes like Scrap Mechanics or Trailmakers, you’ll get some fun out of the game. If you are looking for a co-op vehicle building game to spend hours at a time in with mates, there are other games that do this better.