By: Ted Chow
Slender: The Arrival is a first person horror/mystery game that is based on the Slender Man, an internet meme, by originator Eric Knudsen. Many adaptations of the Slender Man were created from online stories to other multimedia to expand upon the mythos. Slender: the Arrival hopes to expand upon that lore, but does the game accurately portray the fiction as fans have come to expect?
The controls are rather limited to moving using the left analog and occasionally running in specified places using L2. Triangle is used to toggle your flashlight, and the X button is used to interact with limited environmental objects in the game. L1 is used to zoom in with your flashlight, but I found the feature to be essentially useless as your field of vision is already condensed. Lastly, camera panning is done with the right analog stick with a sensitivity changer in the options menu.
Running on the Unity Engine, the textures seem adequate, but the lighting doesn’t do the game justice. When the game is dark it can be extremely dark, even with the gamma cranked to the maximum. This takes away from the game’s overall gameplay as you stumble around trying to progress. The character models also seem a little low resolution and can be comical at times, taking away from the darker undertone.
Sound in any horror game is really the make or break for the genre and Slender: The Arrival manages to provide the nightmare-inducing ambience. The Slender Man’s approach is unique and provides the paranoia factor that makes you constantly check your back. Environmental noises are also well done and help to maintain the chilling atmosphere.
It is rather ambiguous who the main character is or why you should care about finding your friend that went missing. You are literally dropped into the world with no real back story, and the notes you find to help give context to the story are disjointed and unnecessarily cryptic. Flashbacks to different time periods really convolute the overall story by introducing more questions than answers to the motivation of all these characters. By the end of the game, I came out mostly confused as to what I had accomplished.
As a glorified walking simulator, the majority of the game asks you to, you guessed it, walk around and explore seemingly empty landscapes. With no clear indicator to guide you where you need to go, the game tries to establish an open world, but that is to mask the lack of depth to the gameplay and linearity to the story.
Encounters with the Slender Man can be intense initially with the screen starting to shake slowly, then more violently. However, the feature starts to become jarring and a negative to the play experience as you just want to get out of the zone. Other scare tactics are applied to make you jump out of your seat, but the gimmicks become stale and predictable rather quickly.
As a game that relies heavily on the story to keep the player engaged, the story was dismally short at around three hours. There is an option to replay certain portions of the game through stage select, but one might not feel compelled to go through content that loses its novelty after the first time. The game’s dynamic doesn’t change with increased difficulty, and the leaderboard time runs won’t provide an incentive for most players.
Slender: The Arrival has a good soundtrack and an interesting premise; however, the underlying gameplay and lack of a cohesive story really brings the impression down. One gets the notion that the game was trying to sell the lore of Slender Man more than providing a great gaming experience. And while the mystery of the Slender Man continues to live up to its legacy, it’s no mystery the overall game suffers from some shortcomings.