Slender: The Arrival Review
If you’ve ever taken a walk in the woods alone at night and felt that white hot fear that maybe someone is watching you, this is the terror that Slender: The Arrival strives to emulate. Following up on the hype gained from the independent Unity-created game Slender: The Eight Pages, The Arrival is able to replicate the fear and suspense of wandering the woods alone at night and being stalked by an unknown predator. However, the game’s very short length and low quality visuals hold the game back from becoming a horror classic.
Slender: The Arrival begins with the player searching for their missing friend Kate, who lives in a remote house in the woods – but she is nowhere to be found. Upon investigation of the house there are drawings and messages written all over the walls referring to Slenderman; a scream heard from the woods behind the house sends the player on a journey where the origins of this mythical monster are explored. Throughout the game, the player will investigate the surrounding forest, abandoned mines, and an old village where the curse of Slenderman and his thirst for children’s souls was first discovered. The story is fairly standard for horror, video games or not, and due to The Arrival’s short length doesn’t give much insight to the character’s motivations. While it is hinted at that these characters know each other, and a mystery surrounding a young boy who disappeared in the woods years ago is brought up, none of it is presented clearly.
Thankfully, the story can be ignored as most players are here for one reason: to go face to face with Slenderman. While the game obviously couldn’t stretch the simple game mechanic of “The Eight Pages” across an entire story (though “The Eight Pages” does get cleverly added within the beginning levels), the moments where it’s just you and Slenderman in a dark forest are where this game works best. That said, Slender: The Arrival does try in earnest to make the various other monsters of the game (ghosts, demonized children) as terror-inducing as the main protagonist, but these attempts fall short. This is due to the fact that overly-simple game mechanics can be used to overcome these enemies, such as shining your flashlight on them or simply running into another room; they barely register on the gamer’s radar when looking back at the campaign. Add in the fact these enemies are rendered in low detailed, low polygon counts and they will not leave much of an impression.
While it’s hard to judge an indie horror release on graphics, Slender: The Arrival does leave a lot to be desired in that department. Any characters, human or monster, are rendered so poorly that you could believe that this title was developed 10 years ago. However, the game’s environments and lighting effects are richly detailed. Standing out the most are the game’s various forests. Whether during the day in autumn with the sun blooming through the trees, or at night with the moonlight shining off the lake, The Arrival does a great job of rendering the environments and atmosphere so that it beckons your exploration. If only they could retain this level of detail evenly across the game. Sound quality fares better, as the music and sound effects are expertly crafted to elicit scares and make the player uncomfortable when the tension mounts. What little voice acting the games features is handled adequately, though certain characters sound phoned in.
Slender: The Arrival is best described as the gaming equivalent of a B-level, direct to video horror movie that you’d find throughout Netflix or RedBox – a cheap, short thrill that won’t leave much of a lasting impression but will keep you entertained for a few hours. If you enjoyed the simple thrill of the original Eight Pages, the low price point and continuation of the Slenderman legend will be worth your time.