Slender: The Arrival, once a highly anticipated sequel to its infamous predecessor. But did it satisfy expectations for a terrifying game?
|Console||PC/Mac (Steam), PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One|
|Developer||Parsec Productions, Blue Isle Studios|
|Publisher||Blue Isle Studios, Midnight City|
|Release Year||2013 – 2015|
|Purchase (PC/Mac)||Purchase from Humble Store.|
Slender Man, Slender Man… originally something of a joke character created by Eric Knudsen/Victor Surge to be posted at the Something Awful website. Developed into a cult phenomenon during the summer of 2012 and reached his height—no pun intended—of popularity in 2013.
Stalking people, with class.
While Slender Man is no longer talked about as much today, he still made his mark on the Internet. In a way, he’s just another Internet fad that faded over time.
Still, we had good times. And horrible times, unfortunately…
And if you want some background on this character and his games, go ahead and read up on the spoiler.
Slender Man’s Background
For those who aren’t aware, Slender Man is a fictional horror character commonly featured in Internet horror stories known as creepypastas. His appearance is that of a tall and thin humanoid creature in lacking in facial features and wearing a black suit with a tie.
He is basically the Internet’s version of the Bogeyman, relentlessly stalking people and abducting them for unknown purposes. An urban legend consisted of multiple different sources.
The appeal behind Slender Man is that he is both literally and figuratively an amorphous creature. His motives behind kidnapping, murdering and driving people insane are left unclear. No one knows who he is or where he is from. His presence alone seems to distort electric signals. He is the universe’s greatest stalker. Whatever the reason may be, he will be fixated on his victims until he finally catches them.
And worst of all, he can’t be understood. There is always an overwhelming sense of mystery surrounding him. He isn’t just about fear. He is the embodiment of fear of the unknown.
Much of the known canon originated from the YouTube webseries known as Marble Hornets, which inspired several motifs of Slender Man. The strange pencil sketches, mysterious pages featuring those sketches and help messages, the fact that Slender Man often lurks around a forest, his symbol…
There were also other webseries that helped develop the mythos and tell their own stories, such as TribeTwelve, EverymanHybrid, MLAndersen0, and DarkHarvest00. Though all of these webseries were created by amateur filmmakers, they can be pretty fascinating in their own ways.
One of the first (and best known) games based on the character is known as Slender: The Eight Pages by Mark J. Hadley. It was a simple game of the found footage sub-genre where you explore the woods in the middle of the night while collecting eight pieces of paper. But with each page you collect, Slender Man becomes more aggressive and more persistent in pursuing you.
And what is the reward for completing this game?
You die. Congrats.
Then you have the Slender Man’s Shadow series by Marc Steene and Wray Burgess. This series is originally released as separate, free-to-download games that each feature a different map and different collectibles.
For the most part, the basic premise is the same as Slender: The Eight Pages. You find collectible items while avoiding Slender Man, though an additional objective is that you have to reach the map’s exit to win.
Then you have the ambitious freeware called Haunt by ParanormalDev, which has a pretty different take on Slender Man. But it also goes an extra mile in terms of gameplay and visuals, and the atmosphere alone is well worth a playthrough.
While there are many more freeware games based on the Slender mythos, the basic formula remains the same for the most part. Collect stuff and hope the monster doesn’t get you.
There isn’t much to beating these games aside from bragging rights. Part of the appeal to these games is that they take a very simple premise and manage to turn it into a stressful session. The only gameplay to speak of is just finding all of the collectibles before the monster gets you. But it’s actually really difficult to complete this simple objective because the monster itself is so persistent.
So, it all kinda comes together when Mark J. Hadley announced a sequel to Slender: The Eight Pages. And that sequel is what we’re discussing today.
Don’t Walk Out Into The Woods At 3 AM
What is particularly noticeable about Slender: The Arrival is its much higher production value. While Slender: The Eight Pages was a simple game built on the Unity engine, Slender: The Arrival has some vibrant landscapes and an excellent sound design. The game is very pleasant to look at from the beginning, though it quickly spirals into a dark, moody tone.
Well, that is freakin’ ominous.
If I have to be honest, the atmosphere of Slender: The Arrival is the best thing going for it. I love the choice of colors, which in some ways contribute to a more gothic environment.
But if you’re one of those people who doesn’t really care for that sort of thing, then you may or may not be interested in this game.
You’re a young woman named Lauren and you’re visiting your good friend Kate out in the woodlands. Eventually, you come across Kate’s house deep in the woodlands and find out that she’s nowhere to be seen. After finding cryptic messages and drawings around the house, you hear a scream from the woods and set out to investigate. You know, instead of calling the police. I guess Lauren thinks it’s a good opportunity to play some Pokémon GO along the way…
Slender: The Arrival has somewhat of an open-world feel to it, allowing you to wander around and explore the woods, many buildings and the countryside. You can find many collectibles scattered across the game, which help provide some backstory. But the gameplay experience still remains linear as you’re just jumping from one area to another. This is not really a bad thing as there are optional areas you can explore by finding secret items.
Yes, just keep smiling, you little creeper.
One time, I accidentally accessed the game’s secret level by looking at one of these posters. I have to admit, it did legitimately creep me out as I thought the game was glitching. But it turned out that the game was self-aware at this point, so I played along to see what secrets it holds. This is especially unsettling when you’re basically exploring Kate’s house in a distorted world with a black void surrounding it. Damn you, Charlie Matheson Jr.
Seriously, it’s like creepypasta actually happening right before you.
However, the game does let you know when you have entered an area where you must perform specific tasks like collecting items and activating machinery. It does make things easier and you won’t have much trouble finding your way, even without a map to assist you.
For example, the first major area is pretty much classic Slender gameplay. You have to explore the woods to collect eight pages while Slender Man gives chase. The most notable difference is that Lauren is capable of running for long periods of time, unlike Kate in The Eight Pages. While this does speed up the game as well as make it easier to avoid Slender Man, you will still find him rather difficult to avoid.
Strength in Numbers
Slender Man has a new ally in this game: a strange pale-faced creature that we can probably assume to be a “proxy.” Most people know it as the Chaser, which holds a strong resemblance to Masky from Marble Hornets.
And guess what? It chases you. What a name.
I honestly find this bitch more annoying than scary. While it is a legit threat and its presence combined with the Slender Man’s makes for a deadly duo, it’s honestly difficult to avoid. Every time you see this…
You’re just screaming, “DAMN IT! NOT AGAIN!”
Unlike the Slender Man, you can fight back against the Chaser by focusing your flashlight on its face. However, there are many times where this just doesn’t work for me and I constantly get pounced. It’s like one of those Hunter enemies from Left 4 Dead. The Chaser even screams like one.
There is also another enemy which is prominently featured in a chapter released in a later update of the game, a mysterious Gollum-like creature that can move quickly and silently through the darkness. In my opinion, this creature is the scariest enemy to come out of this game.
While the gameplay is slightly improved over The Eight Pages, there’s not really a milestone reached. It’s just an okay experience that kinda comes across as a scenic walking simulator.
Let’s discuss the story real quick. What’s interesting to note is that the story of The Arrival was actually conceived by the staff of Marble Hornets. It’s a nice little collaboration that helps merge the myths of different canons together.
The story does a good job in keeping you in suspense and providing a sense of mystery, though much of the actual story is more of an experience than a structured plot. You’re likely to learn more about the story from finding the optional objects around the game and reading up some articles on the Internet than from just one playthrough of this game.
But even then, everything is not too clear cut and you’ll find yourself asking a lot more questions than discovering answers. This is especially true towards the end of the game, with Lauren’s apparent demise and not being a single step closer to discovering what the Slender Man really is. It really felt like nothing was accomplished.
I like Slender: The Arrival for its strong atmosphere. I’m not lying when I said that the environments can look especially impressive.
I will admit that the gameplay can get stale and the story is too open-ended to be a memorable experience. It is pretty disappointing, considering it was a highly anticipated game by indie communities. Still, it can be a pretty scary game when you consider that someone as tall as a tree is watching your every move from afar, waiting for you to slip up.
Now that is actually creepy.
One comment I should make is that Slender: The Arrival shouldn’t be completed in one sitting. It’s not only a stressful game, but it’s one that can cause some motion sickness. I swear, the copious amounts of video distortion in the game made me feel nauseous. And this game has Oculus Rift support too. While I don’t own a VR device, I can only imagine that it will help make the game much scarier.
After it’s all said and done, you will find that the game is quite short. If you’re just breezing through the game, you can complete it in about one hour. If you’ve first started playing, it may take at least a couple of hours.
So if you have some time to kill and want to immerse yourself in some eye candy with some horror, then Slender: The Arrival is a good choice.
Slender: The Arrival$9.99
- The game has a heavy, oppressive atmosphere that turns it into a gaming spectacle.
- There is a creepy environment from beginning to end, and can get legitimately scary at times.
- The story does a good job in keeping you in suspense and providing a sense of mystery.
- The additional chapters added in later are worth playing simply for the fascinating lore.
- The gameplay can get redundant at times.
- The overall story feels shallow and doesn't explore the characters too much, leaving a lot to be desired.
- The game is disappointingly short, especially when you're expecting to see a more fully realized game.