Slender The Arrival Review
Starting from small origins, Slender: The Arrival has the high expectations of it’s fans to live up to.
Following the massive success of the short indie experimental game Slender: The Eight Pages, comes the eagerly anticipated title from Parsec Productions (who produced the original game) and Blue Isle Studios. With promises of a story line, new entities to try and escape from and more horrific scares than ever before, did Slender: The Arrival live up to the fan’s high expectations? Well, kind of.
The game begins as your character’s car is blacked en route by a fallen tree and so you must walk to your destination, through a trail carved into the woods, towards a house. Oddly, this begins in broad day light, but upon approaching the house you are destined for, night time quickly descends. Upon entering the house, it quickly becomes obvious that not all is right, with nobody to be seen, strange drawings on the walls and odd note scattered about the place. After hearing a scream outside, you must go and investigate and “search for clues to Kate’s whereabouts”, at which point you are somehow transported into a forest and begin to collect pages whilst being stalked by the being known as Slender or SlenderMan – an entity based on the Creepypasta legend of a tall being who stalks and ultimately kidnaps people, most commonly children.
Collecting pages scattered about the world whilst not being hunted is the main way to delve a bit deeper into the story, though these pages can be quite difficult to find at times. There is a real issue with the story and that is that the main story is quite vague and at times can be confusing. The best way to understand as fully as possible is through the scattered notes; however, this does not guarantee a full comprehension of what’s going on. I have an inkling that the aim of the developers was to try and remain partly mysterious as to the definitive version of events to try and create some kind of discussion and debate between players, similar to what happened with the games in the Silent Hill franchise.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t work as the main points of the story are quite confusing, for example, why is my character at the house to begin with? There is a reference to the house being put up for sale, but then multiple references later to my character havin g been an old friend of Kate, the woman who has gone missing that my character is trying to find. So, am I helping to sell the house or was I called to the house to help find Kate? Then, at a later stage in the game, my character goes to a Mine, but, yet again, why? With no clear reasoning, I found the motives behind what was happening at certain points to be very vague – something that could be easily improved upon.
Unsurprisingly, gameplay is similar to the first title, being from a first person perspective armed only with a flashlight and no means of which to fight off your attackers. A main difference is that you can interact with objects in the environment to a degree, such as opening and closing windows and doors – the mechanics for this are very similar to that of indie horror game Amnesia, where clicking and holding down the left mouse button then pushing or pulling in the desired direction lets you have greater control over objects. This works as it is incredibly simple and a large chunk of the Slender audience is already familiar with the controls.
Gameplay stays incredibly simple throughout, the objectives are usually to explore and discover what’s going on in the immediate area or to collect a set number of notes or interact with other items whilst being chased by Slender or one of his proxy’s, a small creature that will run, jump on and attack you by slashing at your face and body with it’s claws. With SlenderMan himself, you have no choice but to run away as if he catches you – its Game Over – but a different enemy requires a different method of survival. As the proxy is so incredibly quick and persistent in it’s hunt for you, the only way to slow it down is to aim your flashlight at it’s face and hold down the right mouse button, which concentrates the beam and temporarily blinds the creature, giving you a few seconds to run and create some distance between the two of you. Yet again, you can sprint, but you can’t sprint forever, and hammering the sprint will ultimately lowe r your overall capacity to sprint, forcing players to think and optimise an effective technique for each situation.
One of the biggest let downs of this game is how short your time in the Slender Universe is, being able to easily complete this is a mere two hours, and for those having problems with completing the objectives, maybe four hours. From all the build-up and hype, the impression I got was that this was going to be a MUCH bigger game, maybe eight to eleven hours in length, which I feel the game needed to completely engulf the player so that they could lose themselves inside this world. The game producers apparently worked with the Marble Hornets team, the group who brought the infamous YouTube series to life where SlenderMan invades the life of a film student working on a project and happens to capture his various sightings of the entity as it stalks him. Surely, after such a creative and well thought out story that was not only well done but received an immense cult following, the team as a whole could piece together a much more in depth and expansive, longer lasting plot for Sle nder: The Arrival?
As far as looks are concerned, the game is great, but not quite “stunning”. Including periods in the day time has allowed for a much more varied feel to the game – instead of everything happening at night and therefor limiting the colour spectrum to mainly dark blues and greys, the forests in the light provide vivid coppers, reds, browns, greens and blues. Textures are pretty good, the swaying of tall grass in particular was impressive as well as the lighting and shadows giving a very believable sense of “reality” at times.
Enhancing the atmosphere phenomenally is the audio, the soundtrack especially; which is executed brilliantly. With a general creepy ambience throughout most of the game from the oh-so-eerie music in the background that gradually rises and falls, building up fear in the subconscious – then during the more active parts of the game, while being stalked in the forest or hunted in the Mine, the tempo picks up installing a sense of panic and urgency.
Hopefully, the success of this game will inspire the team to work together again and create a bigger and better Slender game in the future, and that the limitations that stopped them this time, whether it was their budget or another factor, will no longer be an issue. This game is an absolute Must Play for fans of the Slender legends, stories and countless games as well as and horror lovers. This game is a steal and can be purchased from the Official Site – for a measly $10/£6.80, with the Soundtrack Edition and Special Edition which includes the soundtrack and official artwork, fetching a slightly higher, but not unreasonable, price.
Written by Guest Contributor: SillyRabbit