Slender: The Arrival Review
Perhaps the most anticipated horror game of the year, Slender: The Arrival has to fill the shoes of the original Slender: The Eight Pages in an attempt to scare players in a way that the original never could. With Blue Isle Studios and Parsec Productions working in conjunction, do they achieve this hefty feat? Or does Slender: The Arrival lose it’s effect in a market that is saturated by wanna-be clones?
The very first moment you’re dropped into the game, you’re surrounded by a lush backdrop of fall trees, a bright sunny day and beautifully moving grass as the wind passes you by. In comparison to the original game, this is like leaping an entire generation in gaming consoles in terms of how much of an improvement it is. As you begin to find the darker areas of the game, the lack of light makes the area even more terrifying and you’re going to swear to see things that aren’t really there. Character models for the antagonists… yes… more than one bad guy… are horrifying and will make you wish you could cuddle up with your teddy bear, telling yourself everything will be okay. Whatever engine the game is running on (which appears that it could be Unity, though I’m not for certain) does an excellent job of portraying and visualizing some of the scariest things you might see in a video game.
Slender: The Arrival uses the same mechanics as the previous game and the same as the beta with the only additions being the ability to pick up keys and open doors, Amnesia style. Aside from those small additions, it does everything it needs to do accurately and simply enough. There are times where you’ll want to hit a jump button, but no such thing exists. The sprint seems a little arbitrary at times, but it appears that there’s a regular stamina meter and an adrenaline meter (Neither of which you can see and have no indication of) because there are times where you will sprint when an enemy is close but then there are times where you more or less jog or even just power walk. This arbitrary change can be a little frustrating, but it can make sense if you’re spamming your shift key. The basics of most levels of the game are a new take on the old “Find the 8 pages” game. One requires you to find generators to power up a lift while other levels can be just a straight forward, linear path. These breaks in between the two different types of gameplay keep the game from growing old too quickly.
Probably one of the highest points of the game, the sound makes the entire title. From the somber and terror inducing tones of the album to the creepy, dreadful sounds of one particular enemy, you will be yelling at your screen that you don’t want to be playing any more… but you’ll continue because it’s so good. Jump scares lend themselves to huge jumps in the sound and, as we all know, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction… which will be you, the player, jumping out of your seat in fear. The little bit of voice acting in the game is done well and the overall mixing makes for a game that you’ll be hearing even when you’re not playing it.
The nice thing about Slender’s story is that it’s mostly voluntary. Everything you learn is done so through notes, messages and signs that you find in the environment, similar to how Left4Dead left the story telling to those who wanted to seek it out. The basics of the story revolve around going to your friend’s house and finding it empty and, from there, figuring out what happened. From there it’s all left to the player. If they wish to pursue the story, they can explore and figure it out. If they want to just get some good scares, those are there too. The story itself isn’t very heavy, except for how the friend’s character develops throughout the game, but it’s enough to want to keep moving forward and investigating further.
What made the original game so easy to replay was the fact that Slenderman was a random encounter. You never knew when he would pop up and in The Arrival, this mechanic pushes the envelope. Not only does Slenderman appear whenever he wants, he becomes more aggressive throughout the story. The game became so tense for me at one point I was sweating and had to stop my play session. On top of that, the way the maps are made are now randomized. In The Eight Pages, all the notes and all of the locations were mostly static. In The Arrival, these things move and change every time you play them. Don’t expect to know where anything is on any given level because it can change once you hit that “retry” button or just start a new game. It’s a brilliant idea to make the game more replay friendly and to insure that the scares remain fresh and plentiful.
- Graphics are beautiful
- The Sound is the best part of the game
- Voluntary Storyline
- High replay value
- Some mechanics can be a little clunky or arbitrary
- While voluntary, some more depth in story would have been nice
- rather short
If you played The Eight Pages and are looking for the next scare to really get your adrenaline pumping and to get you to yell like you did when you first saw Slenderman right behind you, this game will not disappoint. The addition of more than one enemy is a very welcomed one and will keep you on the edge of your seat as you scramble to stay one step ahead of your foes. For $10, you can’t go wrong getting this indie title, as it’s one of the best indie titles to come out in the market of survival horror.
Graphics – 9
Gameplay – 8
Sound – 10
Story – 7.5
Replay Value – 9.5
Overall – 8.8
If you want to see my entire playthrough and see me get terrified, check them out below!