Slenderman: The Arrival ReviewAlex Follin
There you are. You have your trusty flashlight in one hand and an old video camera in the other as you wander aimlessly in the night. There is not a single sound but your own breathing and the crickets playing their familiar song. It's ominous, it's unsettling, but there appears to be no real threat. The blades of grass dance in the chilling breeze of the night as the leaves rustle every so often. You walk at a slow and steady pace, just trying to find your way through these woods.
Then you see it.
A ripped out piece of notebook paper with horrible pencil drawings all over that says "Can't Run" tacked cheaply to the trunk of a tree. That is when you know why it all feels so routine.
You look up and the familiar static and distortion takes over your sight, the video shakes and rumbles and sounds of glitched out visions take over and then you see him. Tall and well suited, the faceless Slenderman stands before you. Towering with his tentacles waving behind him, watching you with the head that typically holds a human face all before he takes you away. It is here that we relive the horror of yet another Slender game, but this one has a bit of a twist.
Slender: The Arrival was released by Blue Isle Studios and Parsec Productions on March 26, 2012 and it shed a new light on the Slender franchise. Typically the other games, including the original, were more considered short experiences rather than a game. Something meant to be "spook-worthy" but not necessarily have any rhyme or reason behind the madness, however, The Arrival brought a new twist to the concept of the game. Instead of having a nameless, faceless character wandering aimlessly around the woods for pages as they run away from a tall, brooding figure that is stalking them, we now know our characters and have at least an inkling on as to why we might be going on this journey.
That being said, it should be noted that this game combines aspects of the story and the YouTube series Marble Hornets. Reading and watching these sources may not necessarily be required to get a good experience out of this game, they might help understand better things that might have changed from the original game.
Compared to the original, there have been a lot of improvements that should be noted. Graphically, this game is beautiful with detailed textures that don't repeat and an environment that one could spend hours just walking in and zoning in on the detail, simply appreciating it for what it is. As beautiful as the environment may seem, it also does its job by keeping the atmosphere creepy and ominous, just as a horror game should. There are subtle things in your environment that keep you on edge and constantly in a panicked mindset even though there is no immediate danger, which include the darkly foreshadowing silence in the beginning as you inch toward the first real area of the game.
The Slenderman artificial intelligence also seems to be rewritten in a way that seems different than before. Aside from his obvious change in appearance, from simple and not exactly threatening to a tall and brooding figure that floats in the night with his glowing ghastly aura, we notice that his actions seem a bit more frightening than his appearance alone. We are accustomed to the Slender that teleports in random places when he is not in our line of sight, but that is not really the case anymore. We can look right at him, and he will teleport anywhere, it could be right next to our character or it could be guarding the next item we are supposed to obtain. Slender is written to stalk relentlessly as the familiar rumbles and scary ambiance grow in intensity with every page we collect.
The game play itself is very simple, as you move with the typical WASD controls and your mouse to look about the environment around you. The object of the game is also not really anything new for veteran players of the original or any of the knockoffs that were created. The character is set in a certain level to collect certain items of some sort. The objective is simple, it isn't really new, but for some reason, it is still so scary and thrilling to play.
The story is very captivating, but unfortunately, until towards the end, the player has to actively look for clues and hints about what story the game has tried to put behind itself. It makes several connections to the original game including a note that says someone was "found with a bag of several notes and a broken camera", but again, unless players are actively looking for these little extra things, they may be left with a sense of confusion until the end.
All in all, the game is ten dollars and is definitely worth a shot. The environment and good old scare tactics are hard to beat, as this is one of the more popular franchises in the horror indie era of gaming, and with good reason. Replay value may not be the best, as most players that plow through games would probably beat the entire thing in less than an hour. However, if you ignored a lot of the clues and notes the first play through, which is easy to do with Slender chasing you through the woods, certain completionists might find value in returning to the beginning to try and find the pieces of the puzzle they may have missed before, or discover some Easter eggs that are hidden throughout the environment. That being said, there is some value in having this game in addition to your library if you are a fan of horror, or just Slenderman and his legend, or if you just want a nice scare that you can enjoy when Halloween rolls around.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.