Slender: The Arrival PS4 Review
Publisher: Blue Isle Studios Developer: Blue Isle Studios Genre: Survival Horror Players: 1
Age Rating: 12+ Other console/handheld formats: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U
Upon its initial release on the PC on June 26th 2012, Slender: The Eight Pages quickly became a phenomenal fan favourite, a game that was based on a popular Creepypasta called Slenderman, a short story about an inhumanly tall, slim and faceless human-like creature that stalks and kidnaps people, mainly children. Every popular YouTube Lets Player and their mothers was playing this game at its time of release and it spawned many, many spinoffs and fan games and, in a darker turn, was even the influence behind a real-life stabbing. Currently available on the PS4 is the official sequel Slender: The Arrival – but does it live up to the hype of its predecessor?
The Slender Man games are known for not really having much meat to them, mostly consisting of a protagonist collecting something and being stalked by the Slender Man and having to avoid him like the plague. However, The Arrival does try to add some depth by introducing a back-story to the Slender Man mythology.
You play as Lauren, a young teen on a mission to find out what has happened to her good friend Kate after she mysteriously disappears. The Arrival ties the story to the events in the original The Eight Pages and even though it is a basic story, it still has an intriguing plot and even though you already know that everything has happened because of the Slender Man, you still find yourself wanting to know what has happened to Kate and how the overall story will unfold.
The Arrival is able to keep you on tenterhooks, making you think that the Slender Man is always lurking just out of the corner of your eye, waiting for you to make a wrong move. As you move through each chapter, you find yourself aiming your torch to and fro, aiming at every corner where you think he could be prowling and hoping to catch the Slender Man in time, before he catches you. With every object you pick up, you find yourself wondering how close the Slender Man is and feeling ever more desperate to find that last object in order to finish the chapter. There is also no way for you to attack an enemy or even deter them and this added sense of vulnerability enhances the sense of danger as you wander around alone.
The Slender Man isn’t the only antagonist in this game either. The Arrival introduces us to Charlie Matheson Jr, a young boy who was lured away by the Slender Man and captured and the scene, in which you see this happen, is truly harrowing as he screams for his parents and their growing concern as they search for him. You come across Charlie, who is now a proxy of the Slender Man, in his decayed, emaciated form and who is used to prevent you from finding out what has happened.
The gameplay is simple; as you enter each area, you are tasked with finding certain objects, be it the original eight pages, a key, generators etc and you have to find them before the Slender Man, or Charlie, gets to you. You can tell if either one is nearby as the camera you are recording everything with, will suddenly turn fuzzy and glitch, giving you the upper hand to escape. You’ll also be able to collect letters, notes and pictures that add more depth to the story, giving you more of an insight into what connections the Matheson family had with the Slender Man, as well as what happened to Kate and her friend, Carl Ross, who she had turned to for help.
At times whilst attempting to escape the Slender Man by running away, the character doesn’t seem to move too fast for someone in a panic to escape certain death. Other than this minor nitpick, there are few issues with the controls, and there was no glitches experienced. Also, whilst for the most part the game is intense, this tension is sadly dulled once you are finally captured by an enemy and know what the kill-screens are like, but that can be said about any stalker-type game in which you have to avoid an enemy. After you are captured once, you feel more fearless and so take more risks with the enemies and do find yourself mostly wanting to complete a chapter so you don’t have to redo something once you are killed, as opposed to not wanting to be captured again. Another critique is how you will encounter Slender Man very few times, with him only really being featured overtly in the Eight Pages chapter of the game – for a game about the Slender Man, there is very little of him.
Slender: The Arrival garnered mixed to positive reviews upon release, with its overall gameplay length being criticised for being only around 2 hours in total, and for being rather overpriced. The Arrival is by no means a perfect game, though for what it is is truly a haunting experience, a game that oozes with atmosphere and one that is able to consistently keep you on guard for any unexpected attacks; as you move about and the camera suddenly jumps, it certainly does give you a jolt. A lot of effort has clearly been put into this sequel to give players something fresh and new and with the added story it certainly gives the game more depth than its predecessor; despite its short playtime, this sequel is certainly anything but slender.