Maybe the title is a little self-indulgent, but I like words, okay? ^^”
It doesn’t take a lot to gather from my previous reviews that I like horror-themed things and I like puzzles. While some may dispute the following claim, I feel that Slender : The Arrival is a great blend of the two elements combined into a chilling First Person game.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with the “urban legend” of The Slenderman, you can read up on him at his CreepyPasta page here: http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/The_Slender_Man
In essence, he is a mysterious figure with an abnormally thin visage who moves around the peripheries of your vision hoping to be seen. As you observe him, he is able to hypnotise/paralyse you and take you away to do unknown and unspeakable things. I have reason to believe he generally preys on children, but is not opposed to taking adults away if he needs to.
It was this lore which inspired Parsec Productions, to create Slender: The Eight Pages in 2012. It gained renown as a piece of “YouTube Fodder” and was screamed at by many YouTubers, as well as their audiences. Many small girls were lost to The Slenderman’s grasp in the weeks and months that followed.
With all the coverage the [ at the time ] Tech Demo received, Parsec Productions went on to develop Slender: The Arrival. While many couldn’t see how the demo could be expanded into a full game, Parsec Productions created a very engaging piece of interactive storytelling, while retaining elements of their demo’s renowned gameplay.
Within Slender: The Arrival, you play a young lady who has been called upon by her friend to help her deal with a crisis at her remote country house. Needless to say, you soon find out the crisis is Slenderman related and all you know is that you must reach the Radio Tower…
The rest of the story unfolds through notes strewn about the environments, as well as a few clever story-telling devices that I shall not spoil. I was quietly impressed by how they utilised the First-Person perspective and classic horror movie tropes to create a cinematic feel while retaining the actual gameplay aspects.
The first thing that hit me about this game was how pretty it was. Even with the low settings that my Mac could provide, the scenery of the forests and mountainsides were gorgeous.
I like how the game is played from the perspective of a handy cam and the little interface details give you some little bits of in-game info, but also help to create the immersion.
01. The record time lets you know how long you have been playing the game. This proves useful for some of the speed run achievements which the game offers.
02. The battery life acts as a progress bar for the story. As the game progresses, your battery runs lower… But how low will it go?
03. The camera itself displays the interference created by The Slenderman and allows you to detect his presence as he moves closer behind you or is within your view.
These simple, little details really help to enhance the immersion of the game and make it very accessible for an audience who may not usually play a game of this sort, but enjoy horror movies.
Putting these minor details aside, Slender: The Arrival doesn’t just rehash the same gameplay as their popular tech demo and spread it across 10 – 12 chapters… No, this time The Slenderman has brought some friends along and I assure you that you will get to know these delightful characters all too well…
Without spoiling too much, the main addition to Slenderman’s entourage is The Chaser. Unlike Slenderman, who you want to be avoiding the sight of, The Chaser does as his name suggests. He pursues you through the darkness and can only be deterred by shining your torchlight into his face.
I discovered in my most recent play through that you can evade from The Chaser if you hide just off of his path and turn off your torch. But don’t forget that the longer you stay still, the closer The Slenderman moves towards your position.
The Chaser certainly mixes things up for his time in the game.
Taking all of these aspects into consideration, I feel that Slender: The Arrival mixes up it’s tech demo origin enough to provide a new experience without out-staying it’s welcome. The game offers the Achievement of speed running the game in less than 45 minutes, giving you an idea of it’s length, at it’s shortest.
By including the extra minions, the game adds a more puzzle-like element giving the player the choice between running and hiding, while trying to map the areas as you progress. To further the depth of gameplay across multiple playthroughs, the maps alter the locations of set items depending on the difficulty and the play through. By relocating the items between a number of pre-determined locations the game adds an extra level of complexity and a sense of uncertainty.
Adding in the collectibles, multiple difficulties, speed run Achievements, Easter Egg bonuses and Genesis Mode, I feel that Slender: The Arrival is the perfect addition for fans of the Horror genre.
Some may challenge the use of jump scares to create horror, but I would defend it in the case of this game. The lore of The Slenderman directly links to the nature of the jump scare as it is how he induces fear in his prey. The horror is much more built around the tension and fear of when he is not in view and works in tandem with The Chaser who actively needs to be seen to be avoided.
The use of semi-randomised items add to the uncertainty and horror as you move through environments which you once thought you knew. I have been caught out many times when I ran to a location I thought an item was at before finding nothing and having The Chaser corner me in a dead-end.
As with all games, the enjoyment of the game will be unique to the individual. If the game sounds attractive to you, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
If it sounds good, but you don’t fancy being the player, get some friends together and have a little exhibition of the game; it’s great!
If the game sounds pants, then have a look at something else. Lone Survivor is great!
Ellen took these screenshots all by herself. She may not be with us anymore, but we will find out next week, I guess… Slender: The Arrival is a product of Parsec Productions and The Slenderman is a rather dashing chap, even without any features. That pasty, gauze-like flesh is just SOOOOO alluring. Mmmmm….
Most recently completed on the 29/03/15 for PC.