Slender: The Arrival Review

By Marc Hollinshead, 1 year ago
Originally released on PC back in 2013, Slender: The Arrival re-imagined the phenomenon that is Slender Man into a game that had more of a robust story than its previous counterparts. Until last year, only PC gamers were able to play the title but it eventually made its way onto consoles in September. If that wasn't enough, the game has now been re-released on current gen consoles. Is it actually worth the effort, though? We've known about the creepy, suited figure for a fairly long time now, so does the game still feel fresh or should Slender Man slither back to wherever he came from?

Slender LogoSlender Logo

For those who aren't acquainted with Slender Man, he is an unnaturally tall and faceless man who preys on defenseless people with torches. Before Slender: The Arrival, there was Slender: The Eight Pages and all you had to worry about was roaming through a dark forest collecting eight notes with strange writing or pictures on them. Every page you collected caused the threat of Slender Man to rise until he was constantly stalking you at every turn. The aim was to collect all eight pages before Slender was able to catch you and ultimately kill/kidnap you. That's all there was to it.

When Slender: The Arrival arrived on scene, there was an actual story to be uncovered and a different number of levels to add variety to the usual "walk through the dark woods and get this" mechanic. The story is fairly intriguing and helps you to learn a little more about the demonic man. You play as Lauren, a girl who initially sets out to help her friend, Kate, to sell her house. Instead, we find that the house looks to be abandoned and that something is seriously wrong. The premise sets the tone nicely for what's to come and hints at the mystery that lies behind the game.
The beautiful sun...something you won't be seeing much of in this gameThe beautiful sun...something you won't be seeing much of in this game

Starting with the fairly simplistic prologue, Slender: The Arrival quickly throws you into the deep end and forces you to come to terms with the fact that you are not alone. When you are in the engulfing darkness, the sound of your own feet is the majority of what you'll be hearing as you attempt to complete the required objective. Horror titles thrive when they make great use of sound and this is one of Slender's strongest features. The soundtrack tends to mirror exactly what is happening in the game rather than taking a step back, so for example, if Slender himself appears on the screen, a sudden chime will resonate along with heavy screen static to signal that you are in danger. When not in immediate danger, the game will either have a continuous brooding tone until you progress or have nothing playing at all. On its own, the sound is able to increase and decrease tension very well, so your first time through will keep you on edge a fair few times.

Once you do get to grips with the game or continue for subsequent playthroughs, the threat of Slender Man will definitely lessen. Seeing him the first few times can certainly startle you, but a few hours in and the shock of encountering him will decrease drastically, to the point that he is nothing more than an obstacle that's just in the way. Of course, different things can scare different people, but it's surprising how desensitised you will become to the game after playing for a lengthy period of time.
You again? Get out of my face.You again? Get out of my face.

With the game being re-released onto Xbox One, we would think that something would have changed, or that a slight graphical improvement would be apparent, but that doesn't seem to be the case here. The Xbox 360 version of the title looked pretty basic and never tried to wow you with beautiful vistas and detailed textures, and unfortunately the Xbox One version hasn't done anything to change that. There are the odd occasions where the sun shines through the trees and fog seeps across the ground, but upon comparing the two versions, it was hard to notice much of a difference. It feels like wasted potential as certain effects could easily have heightened the scare factor of environments. There are uglier games out there, but this one won't win any awards from a graphical standpoint.

To reiterate this point further, the game actually suffers from the same glitch that was on the Xbox 360 version. When traversing through the woods in "The Eight Pages", once a few notes are acquired you are able to glitch the game into thinking that you have completed the level by running into Slender while only looking at his feet. The exact same thing is able to be achieved on the Xbox One version, and while it can be a rather helpful glitch, it's strange that it wasn't ironed out when porting the game over to current-gen consoles. When a game is so similar to its last-gen counterpart that it shares the same glitches, it makes you think that the developers could have done a little more in making it feel more of a fresh experience.
Ok Slender, now if you just keep your feet in that exact spot, that'll be greatOk Slender, now if you just keep your feet in that exact spot, that'll be great

Although Slender has a couple of problems and isn't full of eye candy, it still harbours a unique story if you search deep enough. There are collectibles littered throughout the levels that range from "Ooooh that's interesting!" to "And I picked this up why?" to enrich the story and going off the beaten path can sometimes reward you. The game is host to bonus levels as well, so players can even re-live where it all began by playing "Genesis". After a couple of run-throughs, the game can easily be completed in under an hour but the collectibles and bonus levels do help to beef up the content somewhat. Once you figure out a good route through each of the levels, you will realise that there isn't much to it and that it is a rather short-lived experience. Still, part of the fun is actually knowing that you can race through the game and give Slender nothing more than the back of your hand.

Slender's achievement list undeniably mirrors the game itself. It's exactly the same as the Xbox 360 version (but with 1,000 Gamerscore this time around). On your travels, you will need to collect everything you can, complete a few random activities and even die a few times. With the list being the same, this also means that the speed-run achievements are back. While initially tricky to pull off, they become much easier once you know where to go. With the "Eight Pages" glitch still prevalent as well, you'll have an even easier time maxing it out. The hardcore playthrough may be the biggest challenge as your torch's light lasts only a short time and the enemies like to jump out at you a lot more. All in all, though, an easy enough list with a bit of dedication.
Standing in a dark room isn't really the wisest thing to doStanding in a dark room isn't really the wisest thing to do


Summary

Slender: The Arrival is neither a bad or exceedingly good title. If you've played the last-gen version, you'll be getting the same thing here. If you're a newcomer, you'll be getting a fun but quick-to-finish game. The graphics haven't improved all that much and even the same glitch remains, but nonetheless it is still a title that provides entertainment. The soundtrack can be top-notch in places and the run of adrenaline can spur you on to keep playing when you see Slender Man for the first time. At its reasonably cheap price of £7.99/$9.99, the game isn't on the highly recommended list. Slender may be starting to lose his frightening charm, but he still manages to keep us on our toes, even if it is just for a short while.
3 / 5
Positives
Negatives
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent just under five hours completing the game, racing through it again a couple more times and shouting at Slender to move out of the way. 14 of the game's 20 achievements were gained along the way. A copy of the game was provided courtesy of the developer for the purpose of this review.
Marc Hollinshead
Written by Marc Hollinshead
To summarize Marc in two words, it would be "Christian Gamer." You will usually find him getting stuck into story heavy action-adventure games, RPG's and the odd quirky title when he isn't raving about Dark Souls and Mass Effect. Outside the world of gaming, Marc attends and helps out in his church on a regular basis and has a not-so thrilling job in a supermarket.