By: Jeff Cater
Back in 2009, a simple photoshop contest led to the creation a terrifying creature known only as Slender Man. Since then, real life sightings have been reported, violence has taken place in his name and more than a few awful video game adaptations have been made. With Slender: The Arrival, you’re pretty much tasked with the same objectives as every other Slender title: gather notes and survive in a dark forest.
The lookspring of the right stick is extremely sensitive and makes it really difficult to point your flashlight at anything you really want to. Pulling the right trigger focuses the beam of your flashlight into the size of a pin-prick. To guide Lauren (the main character) about the twisted paths of the woods you’ll use the left stick, and that is pretty much it. Things don’t get very complicated here.
Upon first starting Slender: The Arrival you’re immediately treated to a beautiful mountain backdrop with the sun bleeding its last few shards of light throughout the treeline. It’s actually pretty damn good looking, but seeing as how the rest of the game is played in the black of night, you’re rarely (if ever) treated to additional visuals that come close to wowing you.
The soundscape is also incredibly barren — the click of the flashlight, footsteps and some Silent Hill-esque radio buzzing is about all you’ll hear. A little further into the game you encounter a few different enemy types, but they’re mostly silent or excrete comical sounds similar to the Houndeyes from Half-Life. There. I just put Slender: The Arrival and Half-Life in the same sentence, boom!
While the game does create a bit of tension since you’re constantly being stalked by ol’ Slendy, the tension wears off pretty quickly when you realize that you’re just walking through the woods, trying to find bits of paper with poorly written “spooky” phrases entailing the history of Slender Man and his antics. But mostly just walking.
If Slender Man gets too close, it’s time to restart from an automatic checkpoint that could set you back much further than you’d like. You’re also not given any form of map or objective indicator, which wouldn’t have been a problem in the mid-90s, but it’s a big issue here because every damn tree looks the same and your flashlight is garbage.
If you happen to encounter an enemy that isn’t Slender Man, you’re supposed to “hit” them with your flashlight. And by hit, I mean pull the right trigger to focus your beam onto them (similar to Alan Wake) in order to blind them momentarily. Like, really momentarily. I’ve focused the beam onto one for a good 15 seconds only to have them seemingly forget that they hate light, so running away blindly into the forest is really the only option most of the time.
There’s not much in Slender: The Arrival to justify playing it on your fancy new console, especially since more than a few iPhone and Android apps are essentially the exact same thing. Maybe we just need a new twist on Slender Man? Like, give us a gun. Give him a gun. In its current form, you might as well… return to “Slender”? Har Har.