Review: Slender: The Arrival

Slender: The Arrival is a great example of an Alien Hominid scenario in a current-gen console world.

Quite impressively, the original title known as Slender: The Eight Pages developed by Parsec Productions turned massive amount of heads on YouTube. Even the most prominent “celebrities,” who regularly pulled huge numbers of subscribers on the site, were posting reaction videos of them playing through this indie-horror click-and-point game. In the original, players frantically try to find eight pages scattered around a dark, foggy park before a tall figure traps and kills them and for a long time, that’s all this Slender game ever was.

Like Alien Hominid’s journey from Newgrounds to consoles, we now find that Parsec’s YouTube phenomenon has forged a similar path. With a couple years of Let’s Plays for horror games passed, the developers teamed up with Blue Isle Studios to bring the title back to light with Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of the game.

Slender: The Arrival tells of a search and rescue story a la The Blair Witch Project. Players take on the role of Laura, a woman who seeks out her closest friend Kate after attempting to visit her home, only to find out that it has been completely destroyed and abandoned. Through dark woods, ghastly churches and a fog-infested parks, the story is vaguely told through the items that Laura picks up along the way, be it letters to Laura from Kate, newspaper articles that go into detail about various disappearing acts and about the middle-of-nowhere area that Laura has unfortunately found herself trapped in.

A tall, slim and particularly slimy looking person decked out in a black suit and red tie is the main threat in the entire story,  notorious for creeping everyone’s tail in the woods. At every twist and turn, Slenderman is always right freaking there, hiding behind trees and inching closer like a sophomore high school nerd to his senior crush on a pity prom date. He’s not following in hopes to be pointed towards his job interview and he certainly doesn’t seem fazed by the fact that you’ve come all this way to his neck of the woods to find out what happened to your friend. This Slender dude is out for blood and will not let up for anything.

The Arrival plays like a first person shooter, except without guns and an indicator for aim. Players will be forced to utilize a flashlight to see their way through the deathly mystery, which beautifully keeps a lot of the limitations and weaknesses that Lauren, and other victims of Slenderman, have. Players can also use the light to ward off certain enemies, but this mechanic is only useful during one or two chapters. Frustratingly, the mechanics don’t get any deeper than that. Other chapters will mostly have players walking, running and picking up keys to unlock doors. Oh, and picking up documents. If you care about the story at all, don’t forget to pick them up.

This updated version still retains the scare factor that made the original so well regarded. There are dark areas everywhere you walk, with plenty of jumps and surprises that install a genuine feeling of fright. This game will seriously make you ruin your favorite pair a pants, because it’s that scary. Details such as Laura’s camera going haywire whenever Slenderman is near act as a heavy incentive to keep things moving. Some of the forest and beach landscapes point out how well the Xbox One console can make glamorous visuals out of what was previously low rent.  They environment may not be hugely detailed, but the gloomy and horrifying scenery isn’t lost because of it.
Being so vague on story and so short in time, The Arrival offers little replay value. The inclusion of secret levels and more than one ending are great, but it isn’t worth plowing through the dark tale a second time. The Arrival is better off used as a party game for a couple of friends on a Halloween night. For example, one of the chapters gives players the objective of closing all doors and windows in the house before Slenderman gets in, which can get quite arduous and scary with a higher difficulty setting. A good way to scare friends and another reason to play the game a little more, but nothing beyond that.

Closing Comments:

Slender: The Arrival boasts some genuinely scary moments, but offers little beyond them. Chapters serve as a mini party game with friends, making this point-and-click game more of a horror movie than an actual interactive scare fest. The lack of a real story dampers things further, and if by some weird chance that players suffer the Slenderman hunt a second time, the feeling of that genuine fright will be long gone.