Slender: The Arrival - Survival Horror Adventure REVIEW

A certain besuited, tentacled gentleman re-enters the nightmare gaming world smarter, scarier and leaving you in a colder sweat than in his original concept game Slender. Slender: The Arrival aims to frighten the pants off even the most hardcore horror fans, we got our hands on a copy to see how brave we were.

Not very it seems. After a pleasant atmosphere building stroll whilst filming an autumn evening (that transforms to night within seconds) you enter Kate's house. It's not clear at this stage who Kate is, or who you are indeed, or why you even care about Kate, but you do and you want to go into her abandoned house, which is fairly normal activity in the 21st century I'd say. At this stage came the first scare. As seen in the following picture I turned round suddenly to find the looming black figure. With the anticipation that had built up prior to playing I found myself having to collect my trousers from the same dry cleaner that Slenderman picked his up from earlier that day. Well no, but I jumped anyway. After the realisation that I was scared of my shadow I took a sneaky break to turn off the shadows, as they genuinely get in the way of the graphics and I found that having a shadow was more annoying than atmospheric. So I continued..

Blue Isle Studios' Slender: The Arrival is story-driven, but not in the same way as most games. You collect various bits of information including for example information relating to the areas and instructions as to what to do, along with notes from an unknown character who is revealed along the way. It's easy to miss one or two of these as you play although they are mostly in places you will have to go. The areas are diverse enough to be interesting yet keep the same theme throughout with plenty of opportunity to explore, albeit under pressure. The extra exploration is the only way to understand what is happening, and even still it's a bit suspect without reading around the 'myth' of Slenderman. Collecting is a theme throughout the game with a return to the terror-orienteering from Slender: The Eight Pages featuring early on. And when I say early on I mean it, the game isn't long. Played well it doesn't take more than an hour. Played like a complete wuss and getting caught in the tentacles of said stalker it took me about 3 hours in total.

Being such a short game works both for and against Slender: The Arrival. It is so short it feels like an episode, think The Walking Dead for example, and that there should be more story and character development. However in a longer game, Slenderman would no longer be scary. In fact towards the half way point the sudden appearance of Slenderman following his teleportations, accompanied by his introductory distorted visuals and audio, stopped making me jump and I just ran away. Which is all you can do anyway, or use your torch which has no effect on our main man, but can be used on the other promised 'monsters' to some effect. Slenderman certainly looks the part now even though you have to avoid looking at him to survive.

Talking of looks, the graphics are pretty good having been developed on the Unity engine and have enough settings to turn up for those who are that way inclined. The only qualm I had about the graphics was the inability to turn off motion blur, and because you spend so much time in motion this means that a lot of the game is blurry. It's only a minor problem in a small but well constructed game world (or series of game stages) that looks great in the brief daylight spells and manages to be both pretty and terrifying in torchlight.

I admit that I spent a lot of the play time running in circles, getting stuck in trees and corners and shouting 'run away' at the appearance of anything that moved, or didn't move in Slenderman's case. I didn't find the normal difficulty hard but found it frustrating that every time I got caught I had to replay the level. There is an unlocked hardcore difficulty that apparently extends the ending but I haven't yet played it through. At £6.72 it's reasonably priced, but short. If you like horror games and have played Slender, Slender: The Eight Pages or know about the legendary Slenderman then you can't really go wrong. The horror element is well executed, atmospheric and jumpy and the story is rewarding if you do your collecting. Overall Slender: The Arrival is a decent addition to a relatively sparse genre.



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