The Slender Man is an original concept that came out of the murky depths of the Something Awful forum. This mythical being has become so popular that it even got its own video-games, starting off with Slender: The Arrival.
Most people would have been told about the Bogeyman when they were young. The Slender man shares the same concept, in that its sole purpose is to scare players. The story follows the journey of the main character looking for a missing friend in a remote community. Nothing is ever what it seems in Slender: The Arrival though. On at least one occasion the character passes out and awakes in a completely different location. Perhaps that is part of the reason that makes it so compelling to get to the end, given that it’s never easy to know what will happen next.
At first the game gives subtle hints of the creature players are up against. It all builds up to a terrifying encounter in the woods, where the mysterious Slender Man is stalking the character. Its ability to pop up anywhere at will makes it a formidable foe. It doesn’t have any weaknesses and getting to close to it will result in loss of health and eventual death.
The main character, like many others in indie horror video-games, makes use of a video camera. Any screen distortions are warning signs that the creepy stalker is nearby. The only way to ensure survival is to run away from it. Add the fact that this being only appears at night officially makes this the scariest game of cat and mouse. Some nerve wrecking music also plays whenever the Slender Man makes an appearance.
Despite the antagonist’s terrifying nature, it is still necessary to offer some kind of challenge to make it appealing to play the game. These usually consist of finding generator switches or items scattered in one area. The Slender Man has minions working for it who will join in the stalking fun at some points.
Albeit it is nerve wrecking to try and complete each challenge with one or more of these predators roaming that area, there are a few design flaws that can make it frustrating. If the character dies then it is necessary to start challenges from the start. This is quite annoying after having to get a set of items or turn on switches for the tenth time or so. This is due to the very limited number of checkpoints that exist throughout each chapter.
Quitting the current chapter will also result in having to continue from the start of that chapter, rather than the current chapter checkpoint. These are design flaws that would have been easily fixed during development. It just makes it less enjoyable to have to repeat whole sections of the story a few times.
Where the game exceeds is in the mind games that it enjoys employing. There are times when it seems like the character has died or has been captured, but then it is the complete opposite. Not being able to know exactly what is going on just makes for an authentic horror experience.
The game also looks much better than when it was originally released on the previous generation of consoles, such as the Xbox 360. Some of the areas players can explore are huge and it’s nice that the game lets players find out about a lot of the back story on their own.
Even so, it feels like the story doesn’t last that long and it ends abruptly without really showing what happens to the main character. The game becomes less scary towards the end when the Slender Man is shown so much on-screen that it ends up making it less frighting. It seems like a case of the story losing momentum halfway through, which is a shame as the initial encounters with the Slender Man were scary enough to cause nightmares for a couple of nights.
The usual collectibles are scattered around each chapter and there’s different difficulty levels. But these are not enough to warrant going back to visit the Slender Man.
Albeit it starts off as a promising horror video-game, the various design flaws and the fact it starts to lose momentum halfway, makes for a not as enjoyable experience. Slender Man is a truly terrifying creature that will haunt your dreams, very much like Freddy Krueger. Slender: The Arrival also has the same effect, or at least it did for the first couple of chapter, but it doesn’t manage to keep it up for the whole duration of the story.
We would like to thank the team at Xbox who have kindly provided review code.