Slender: The Arrival
It was only a matter of time before Slenderman terrorized console gamers in addition the thousands of PC gamers he has already brought to the brink of insanity. We Xbox and PlayStation owners foolishly thought we could hide from his featureless visage but we were wrong! Midnight City and Blue Isle games have brought ‘Slenderman: The Arrival’ to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 as a downloadable title just in time for Halloween. So turn off the lights, turn up your stereo and brace yourselves for an intense scare!
Created in a photoshop challenge on SomethingAwful.com, Slenderman began filling internet users with unease as he began to appear cleverly photoshopped in the backgrounds of old photos. Soon, people began contributing to the back-story of Slenderman, with some people even creating fake documentaries to spread awareness of Slenderman. In 2012, Slenderman received his first video game with Slenderman: The Eight Pages (originally known simply as Slender), a game that triumphed over low-production values (it was free and developed only one person) to deliver a frightening and atmospheric horror experience where the player was tasked with gathering 8 pages of drawings in order to escape a blackened forest.
Slender: The Arrival is the sequel that offers a similar premise, but one with higher production values and a longer play time. In it, players are cast as Lauren, an average girl who goes looking for her friend Kate who has disappeared. After arriving at Kate’s house, Lauren soon discovers that something terrifying has happened to Kate, though it might not be too late to save her.
There isn’t much in the way of an in-depth story, though I do feel this is a deliberate move from Blue Isle Studios. It takes a very clever story to be a successful one in horror games, and as Slender: The Arrival is a relatively short experience I suspect that Blue Isle Studios didn’t want to bludgeon the player with an overly-complicated back-story for a horror character who was originally terrifying because of his appearance and the mystery surrounding him. Horror characters run the risk of becoming a goofy parody when we learn too much about them (look at Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan!) and I’m glad that Slenderman has been left un-Jasoned and the original Slender gameplay has been left intact.
Speaking of gameplay, there isn’t much to do except for what you may have already done in Slender: The Eight Pages. Sure it has a different twist on the “collect the eight pages” formula with each level, but you will be running around collecting/activating X amount of objects with each level. I actually think this is a good thing, as it allows for the action to progress unhindered with each level as the player already knows they won’t be solving a massive and convoluted series of puzzles – just getting what it takes to get from one nightmarish area to the next.
Now while Slender: The Arrival has progressed from Slender: The Eight Pages in terms of overall production values, I do feel as though this particular port doesn’t fully take advantage of the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3’s hardware. That isn’t to say this is a rushed or poorly executed port but it does feel (for lack of a better term) bare bones. Meaning that this game was not given a huge amount of attention or tweaking to make it flourish on consoles and it shows. The frame rate is sketchy (though it never seems to even come close to fluidity), the graphics are below average even for last-gen and using a controller can feel stiff. With that being said the game does work and it is playable – it just feels a little rough around the edges.
So why is Slender: The Arrival worth playing?
Slender: The Arrival (much like the original Slender: The Eight Pages) absolutely nails its atmosphere. It’s hard playing the game and not experiencing a feeling of dread of sheer terror at the thought of encountering Slenderman or one of his minions and the constant re-treading of your steps while running out of stamina flash light battery power only heightens that dread. Much like a good puzzle game makes players feel like Einstein for solving a clever puzzle, a similar feeling can be gained from progressing through a level in Slender: The Arrival, though it is also accompanied by a sigh of relief.
- Atmospheric and tense
- Highly accessible
- Decent amount of scares and gameplay for its asking price
- Below-average frame rate and graphics
- Stiff controls
When it comes down to it, Slender: The Arrival fills a void in the downloadable title marketplace, particularly on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Sure it might not offer the bells and whistles of some titles but it does offer a decent and tense horror experience for its price. Here’s hoping more developers take the risk in porting or developing a downloadable horror title to consoles.