Review: Slender: The Arrival
Slender: The Arrival, from Parsec Productions and Blue Isle Studios, is the true sequel to the massively popular indie phenomenon, Slender. Is it a worthy successor, or has hype done this one in?
- Worth The Time?Yes, absolutely to any horror nut.
- Things LovedThe game is seriously nerve-wrecking, it's freaky as hell, the backstory is really interesting and requires exploration to discover, the world is compelling, the randomly generated page collecting section doesn't just change the page locations but the entire layout, the graphics are amazing, the visual effects are absolutely stunning, the music and audio is wonderful.
- Things HatedThe story is a bit too ambiguous sometimes, there are some visual bugs and a few glitches, the increased difficulty of the page collecting section could frustrate many newcomers and there's no easy difficulty to help out.
- RecommendationIf you've been anticipating this game, chances are you've bought it long ago. But to any fan of Slender or horror in general, this is a must-play.
- Name: Slender: The Arrival
- Genre: Horror
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PC, Mac
- Developer: Parsec Productions, Blue Isle Studio
- Publisher: Blue Isle Studio
- Price: R95
- Reviewed On: PC
Slender: The Arrival, from Parsec Productions and Blue Isle Studios, is the true sequel to the massively popular indie phenomenon, Slender. I’ll be straight up with you. I’m a huge fan of the Slender Man, always have been, and this has been one of my most anticipated games for the year. I’m not exactly someone to get carried away by the hype or have any expectations in general, so I’ve been quietly excited about the release of this one. However, because sanity is for the weak, I pulled an all-nighter last night waiting for the launch of this game, then once I had it I turned off all the lights, cranked the volume on my headphones up to maximum, and played this game the way it was meant to be played. With all that said, let’s get into The Arrival and whether or not it takes the Slender Man throne.
The game follows a young girl who is permanently forced to hold a camera. I’m kidding, but yes the game is played with a video recorder HUD, although you can toggle it on and off at any time with the TAB key. The premise is pretty simple though. The girl’s friend, Katie, has gone missing, but not before seemingly going off her head a little. The two girls have a history, sharing a disturbing encounter in their pasts. Your objective is to find out where Katie has gone to, and what happened to her. For the most part, the story is quite ambiguous and features very lightly. However, the backstory is what keeps it compelling, and you’ll discover it by finding notes in the environment. This is a very intriguing game, and it easily manages to grab you right from the great introduction, and keep you hooked until the end.
The Arrival’s gameplay focuses dominantly on survival and exploration. Often you’ll be navigating large, open environments, where detracting from the main path can lead you to some of the collectible backstory notes. The world is compelling, and it remains that way throughout your stay. One of The Arrival’s most powerful tools is immersion, and the meticulous way they’ve crafted the horror and atmosphere of this game. When it’s going, this game is seriously nerve-wrecking and freaky as hell. The campaign is packed with unique scares and variety in them, and it’s very unpredictable apart from the page collecting sequence, which forms one level in the game. Speaking of, they’ve increased the difficulty of it, and this could frustrate many newcomers who struggled with the original game and beta, especially since there is no easy difficulty, only normal and a harder, unlockable one. What I found really impressive about the page collecting sequence though is that it was randomly generated in a way that didn’t just change page locations, but the entire layout of the area, spicing things up nicely.
Slender Man himself is as intimidating and aggressive as he’ll ever be, and he’s relentless in the way he pursues you. He can now walk and actively move towards you, and the first time I saw big old Slendy walking up to me, it gave me shivers. Although, he’s not the only scare in the game, as later you’ll have to deal with him as well as a character from Marble Hornets, the YouTube horror series whose writers joined The Arrival team, but that’s a scenario I really don’t want to spoil. Let it be known that this game is just intense like you wouldn’t believe in its best moments, and I’m pretty sure the stress I felt in some sections of the game was enough to reduce my life expectancy a bit. And I never stress or get scared usually. But despite that I got told after I finished this game and walked out of my room that I looked like I had seen a ghost. As I love to say, atmosphere is the heart of horror, and The Arrival is impeccable here. All of its elements come together to create something special.
Often, the game can be frantic, and survival is something you’ll need fast reactions and a good grasp of the sprint button to achieve. In some sections of this game, letting your guard down for just a moment can get you killed. In this way, it’s definitely an engaging and pulse-pounding experience that you’ll need nerves of steel to get through. Whether you’ll be scared or not is completely subjective, but horror mechanics and atmosphere are tools that can be analysed. Take it from someone who has played hundreds of horror games. The Arrival knows exactly what it’s doing. Even if it doesn’t scare you, it’s absolutely going to unnerve you and make you tense up. But it’s intriguing and compelling enough that you’ll most likely complete it in one sitting like I did. That’s also because the game is a bit on the short side, consisting of five levels including the prologue. It should take you around two hours to complete it. Once you do, you’ll unlock hardcore difficulty if you’re into that. Another incentive to keep playing would of course be for all the collectibles, to piece together the whole backstory. The length of the game feels appropriate, but I couldn’t help craving more. It’s genuinely good horror.
The Arrival looks absolutely amazing. It offers a host of advanced graphics options, and does as much as it can to be a high quality production, which it most definitely is. Environments are intricately detailed and full of life, and the same can be said for the fantastic character models. One of the best things about the game is undoubtedly the visual effects, which are absolutely stunning, as well as the wonderful music and audio. The wild screen distortions, immense static, eerie music and blaring sound effects all come together to deliver an atmosphere that is both crushing and incredibly oppressive. The audio and visual experience propels The Arrival into excellence, and that is extremely admirable. I did encounter some issues though that marred the high graphics quality a little. These were minor, but noticeable in the form of some visual bugs and glitches, where for instance textures popped-in awkwardly or Slender Man spawned in an unnatural position. Nothing too bad, but it can be distracting.
Slender: The Arrival is a compelling, nerve-wrecking and seriously freaky game that may be a bit on the short side, but there’s no doubt that it’s top quality throughout the time that it lasts. It’s a powerful experience, a great achievement, and definitely among the best of the horror games I’ve played. It felt absolutely worth the wait once I finished it, and it really was the experience I was hoping for. I’m definitely going to remember this one for a while, and not necessarily because it made me wet my pants, but because the experience was just awesome, and one I appreciated greatly as a lover of horror. It’s definitely worth buying if you’re a horror nut or Slender fan of any kind. It’s a must-play.