Slender Man is back, and now he has a friend…
Slender: The Arrival is the follow up to the now infamous Slender: The Eight Pages; an indie project by developers Parsec Productions, now in partnership with Blue Isle Studios. While it never actually seemed to make it out of its extended beta period, the original game became a surprisingly popular free horror game among indie fans and those who simply like to scare themselves for pleasure. Very small and simple in its nature, the game achieved a considerably large fan base which has led to this new and more prestigious development to come about. Boasting a brand new storyline, a shiny new appearance, new challenges and scares, and a whole new set of mechanics to figure out, Slender: The Arrival has really put its name out there and become highly anticipated, so how has it really done?
The game throws you straight into the story, with your car having crashed near some woods causing you to need to walk to “Kate’s House”. Your relationship to Kate is not made entirely clear here, but it soon becomes obvious that she has had some trouble with our old friend Slender Man. For an unknown reason, your character feels inclined to put their life at risk and investigate the situation, and so the real horror story begins. Kate’s home is filled with drawings of the Slender Man and messages about being unable to escape him, resembling those found in the forest during the original game. You go on to follow these pages through the new set of woods while the Slender Man enters into a hot pursuit. This stage of the game is pretty much the same as the adventure the original placed us in, and aside from nostalgia the improvements which have been made in this release are quite clear. Following this some surprises face the player, including new areas to explore and a new, female character who in some ways is more dangerous than the Slender Man himself, with your only weapon being your flashlight.
In terms of mechanics and workings, this new game has both good and bad aspects to it. On the up side of things the way that the Slender Man “works” has been greatly improved upon. He now seems to be able to teleport to wherever he feels fit, but does so in a way which is fair to the gamer, creates greater tension in the game, and makes him a progressively greater challenge the further through the game you get. With the new perspective of the game, directly through a video camera which comes complete with motion blur and makes the static effect more fitting, the white noise and trippy graphics that the Slender Man likes to cause when he is close are now much more effective at making the thrill of the game real and the gamer think fast. The new character of the game, who will catch you unless you dazzle her in the beam of your flashlight, is also a welcome new addition and challenge adding a whole new element to conquer. When she comes for you alongside the Slender Man, tact and speed are crucial if you manage to think past your fear. Unfortunately the game’s high detail with such effects, even when graphics are reduced, can cause some lag to it which makes it a little difficult to play. While some of this is down to the video camera effect, it can be somewhat frustrating at time when pace and free-moving are key to surviving. The lag is not so much a major issue, but as a minor one it can be, in ways, more irritating during gameplay. Opening doors at the start of the game is also something simple which the developers may want to try and fix slightly, as doing this does not seem to be particularly easy.
Other than these issues, and the apparent lack of sense of your character who seems to want to follow Slender Man through this story, the game has been done pretty nicely. The graphics of Slender: The Arrival are very good, improving even on the full detail playability of the original game. Both in the dark and the light the realistic look just adds to the horror of the game, bringing in some classic elements such as corn fields and low lit rooms to increase the tension. If you look carefully around the game you may also notice a few cameos by objects from the first instalment, such as the truck that sat in the original forest. The sounds of the game are still very atmospheric too, adding to the pure tension and fear that are truly struck into the gamer throughout aside from all of the jump scares intended to catch you out. Once again the graphics and sounds together manage to create that tense and caution-invoking atmosphere which Slender: The Eight Pages first presented to us, keeping probably the most important element of the game alive.
Slender: The Arrival has certainly made a move forward for the series bringing an actual storyline into the mix and improving upon some of the simplicity of the sweet and simple first instalment. It has made the game look good, play well with a bit more diversity and continued to keep the element of tension at its core to make gamers stay on their toes as they play. There are a couple of minor issues with the gameplay, but nothing that could not be relatively easily fixed. A couple of the mechanics of the game do not work perfectly, but these will likely be identified and either fixed or made not of for future productions. The main issue that gamers may have with Slender: The Arrival however is that the story is pretty short, and in some ways the game doesn’t feel as natural as the first instalment did where you had a simple yet challenging task to complete in a genuinely frightening setting. The first game had a certain uniqueness and simplicity which played into its hands in making it a fantastic experience, and some of that has been sacrificed in place of depth. On a positive note however, the diversity of a second scary figure with different dynamics in the game is a very welcome addition to what we are used to.
All in all the game has its ups and downs. It is not a bad game but it does not feel quite as strong an experience as its older sibling proved to be. With some welcome changes such as a new storyline and a bit of diversity, the game is some of the way to moving the series forward. Some elements are not perfect as yet, but this at least gives some grounds for the developers to continue to improve their series into the future. As a whole, Slender: The Arrival is not a bad little indie horror game which some people will see as an improvement on the previous instalment while others may experience a little loss of charm. In either case it is certainly worth trying for the price to see what you think personally. The game in itself is a pretty good experience and a possible sign for a strong potential future for the series.
The Good – A new storyline, a new character with a different set of dynamics to the Slender Man, an improved look to the game and the maintenance of the great atmosphere presented by the original are all good steps forward.
The Bad – Some mechanics are not perfect, a little of the original game’s unique thrill and charm have gone astray, and the logic is all somewhat odd.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.