Slender: The Arrival Review
Armed with a pitch-black suit and a white featureless body the demonoid fantasy Slenderman stalks children and impressionable adults, terrifying them, twisting them to his whim. Built from the original PC game: Slender the Eight Page, Slender the Arrival expands on a single terrifying level into a fully imagined arcade game for consoles. Players experience the perspective of Lauren, who arrived to help childhood friend Kate pack up her home after some traumatic event. Upon her arrival it quickly becomes apparent, through childish scribbling over her walls, and the eerily empty house, that Kate is nowhere to be found. Soon enough the foreboding sense of Slenderman trailing Lauren through the landscape consumes the experience of the game, leaving little room for much else.
Slenderman the Arrival had a limited story which essentially started and ended with learning that Lauren had arrived to help Kate pack her house only to find her inexplicably missing. After picking up the handy cam that depicts the game’s story, players are dragged through houses, abandoned churches, abandoned camp grounds, and an abandoned mine shaft, just to name a few abandoned locations. What little story there is can be gleaned from pieces of paper containing clues hidden throughout the game, some give hints as to Kate’s potential whereabouts, or they provide some backstory for Slenderman: how he was able to enter this realm and begin terrorising the locals. Most disappointingly was that ending of this game was entirely predictable, for such an atmospheric game this seemed like something that could have been avoided with more careful story structuring.
Atmospherically Slender had it right, for the first 5 jump scares and being a non-combat game, the jump scares are punctuated by the desperate need to run in the opposite direction. Between the music, static filled sound effects, unclear surroundings and the handy cam being anything less than handy, it was enough to launch you from your couch when Slender unexpectedly popped out from behind a tree. Charmingly terrifying as this was many sections of the game’s surroundings had only two directions in which to travel. When Slender appears at both ends of this meters long path, it’s enough to have you screaming in frustrated anguish at the television that Slender can’t have it both ways. Whilst some parts of the game inspired fear others created confusion.
Slender provides a limited number of clues concerning your destination whilst being even more vague as to how to get there. This shows itself to be a tactic designed to throw the player off guard, thus render them more childlike when Slender snakes his arms towards the player, seemingly from out of no where. Clever as this gameplay design may be for their purpose it is present in parts of the game that are not plagued by the terror of Slender or his Proxy. Each path starts out being deceptively easy but by either flaw of design or due to an increasing challenge the path becomes convoluted. At times the path disappears entirely, there is a technical path to your intended destination but good luck finding it without pointers. Either by luck or through dogged perseverance players can navigate their way through the eerie levels.
Graphically Slender is superb for its genre, what’s in front of you is clean, and the daylight scenes are beautiful, yet when the dark creeps in a flashlight is needed. Shifting between bright and clean to dark and gritty purveys the sense of dread that Slenderman’s presence brings, not to mention his Proxy. This subhuman creature was once a person that fell under the influence of Slender, turning them into something that looks like it belongs in a drug and alcohol rehab clinic. Appearing from the shadows, with only a distant shriek for warning, the Proxy inspires terror but up close it shares the same dark grittiness as the setting. What works for the background does not work for characters, up close the Proxy loses its visual effectiveness because it’s face is indistinct or blurry, not frightening.
On the Australian Xbox Live Marketplace Slenderman the Arrival retails for $9.99 and this pocket money will provide you with 1-2 hours of terror, confusion and running, maybe more of you enjoy the experience enough to keep playing. Make no mistake; there will be running, lots of it. Considering the price tag this is a fair value for money when compared to an $80 – $100 game that provides between 10-20 hours of entertainment. With some replay value to complete achievement based challenges, best difficulty levels and to complete the hunt for collectables, Slender does provide motivation to continue braving the eerie landscape, the challenges and achievements are challenging, and entertaining enough to supply further entertainment.
Slenderman has a longstanding reputation as a terrifying character, nightmare fuel, his visage has even inspired children to kill other children. There’s a perverse fear that stems from a man who just watches you, like the world’s creepiest, most obvious pervert, and in this game he can stare at you as long as you’re playing in the dark. Honestly it seems that Slender’s goal to touch you with his noodley appendages, which is not terribly motivating. Slender the Arrival is a good bit of fun, not perfect but nothing is without its faults: for a few fear filled hours you can experience what nightmares are made of.
About: Sarah Rigg
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