Slender: The Arrival Review
Slender is now more than just a game, it’s a huge phenomenon. Slender: Eight Pages, a small, free survival horror published in 2012, gained a tremendous popularity and received rave reviews all around the Internet. Suddenly, Slender Man was everywhere – in let’s plays, in art, in fanfiction. The monster acquired even a group of devoted fangirls, squealing all the time how adorable he is (oh well, some people juggle geese). Anyway, it’s no wonder that the developer wanted to take advantage of this fad and decided to release a commercial sequel to his big hit. And thus Slender: The Arrival was born. Is it better and more terrifying than the original? No. Is it worth checking out anyway? By all means. Read on to see why.
One of the many things that was improved over the free version was adding some plot into the game. At the very beginning, after a rather creepy introduction, the fallen tree renders our car immobile in a forested and picturesque location in the middle of nowhere. Unexpectedly, it’s still broad daylight and everything looks beautiful and peaceful. Nothing bad could happen, right? Not right. As we move away from the vehicle, it’s getting darker and darker and we feel something ominous in the air. That’s never a good sign in a horror games. By the time we reach a house in the woods (not a cabin, but close enough), it’s already pitch black outside. After a bit of exploration we hear a blood-curdling scream in the distance and we need to check out what was that. Soon we live to rue that reckless decision as we pick up a sheet of paper, warning us against the lean and menacing monster with long limbs and a white face.
If you have played the original Slender, you’ll have no difficulty with figuring The Arrival out, since the main premise remains the same – collect eight pages and survive by running from the oncoming two-legged doom that chases you incessantly. However, pages are not the only thing we’re after. During the five levels the game has in store, we have to switch on six generators in a decrepit mine to power up the lift or close all the doors and windows in a house as soon as possible before Slender enters and chews our head off. That’s by far the most unsettling and unnerving part of the game. It made me scream shrilly like a little girl at the sudden jumpscares, I kid you not. Whatever we do though, the mechanism remains the same at its core (find X of Y and don’t die in the process), but props for the developer for trying to, quite successfully if I may say, conceal that fact by adding some originality to the tasks. Still, the game’s main problem is its length. The free version of Slender can be beaten in around fifteen minutes if you are skilled enough, but the Arrival is not that much longer. I was quite disappointed when I finished it in a little above one hour. That’s ridiculously short for a commercial product. A few more levels wouldn’t go amiss. What’s more, I feel that the Arrival was much easier than the original. To find all the pages in the free version you had to be at least swift as a coursing river or possess skills of a Jedi Knight, whereas in the sequel I managed to do it on the first take. The same happened with the generators as well, to my big surprise. Admittedly, they spawn in random places, such unusual spots like a bathroom included, so maybe I was just lucky. But still.
Slender Man is not the only hellish creature that will hound us in the Arrival. During the mine level we encounter another monster – a woman called The Proxy. Her method of pursuit is quite different than Slender’s. She basically runs after us, not teleports erratically, and we can ward her off by directing the beam of light from our flashlight at her, which makes the crazed lady stop for a while. When she catches us, not everything is lost, since only the second tête-à-tête with her results in our death, forcing us to replay the level. To be honest, I didn’t find her particularly scary. She was by far more annoying and a nuisance than being a real opponent, sending shivers down our spine the moment we lay eyes on her. It’s nice that the game had another villain, but this one was certainly a failed attempt at creating horror. In general, the free version was more atmospheric and creepy. True, the sequel scared me a few times, but it wasn’t even nearly as disturbing as the original. Sometimes jumpscares are pretty shameless, for instance when Slender spawns right in our faces, leaving us very little time to react and get the hell out from him. This is certainly unfair and in a way spoils the thrill of the escape. After all, what kind of a getaway it is, when our pursuers can just appear right in front of us, screaming “surprise”?
One thing that is undeniably better is the visual side. Even though the engine is the same, the Arrival boasts quite nice views. The forest by daylight is really stunning and the view from the mountain peak can be quite breathtaking. Interiors look slightly worse and occasionally we can see quite uninspiring textures, but in general the graphics is really good. The same with the audio. Every horror movie or game, relies heavily on sounds to create the right mood. The Arrival is not an exception. Without all the background noises or static when Slender comes close, this production wouldn’t be half as scary. Great job on audio, no doubt.
All in all, The Arrival has its faults and certainly is not perfect, but despite all that it’s still an enjoyable, though very short, game and one of the best horror games released during past few months. It can genuinely frighten you senseless. If you enjoyed the free version, certainly check out this title as well. But don’t come screaming if you have trouble sleeping afterwards.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10
Can give you a few nice scares
Good graphics and sounds
Not as terrifying as the original
Lame opponent in the mines
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