Parsec Productions’ Slender: The Eight Pages was a hit when it was released in 2012 on Microsoft Windows and Mac OSX.
Tasked with finding eight pages within a woodland area at the dead of night, it was the first opportunity for many players to meet the mysterious and utterly terrifying Slender Man.
Now, Blue Isle Studios, with the assistance of Parsec Productions, hope to expand upon the title by releasing its sequel, Slender: The Arrival, on consoles. Promising more varied and developed gameplay, along with a story that will go some way to put the events of Slender: The Eight Pages into context; can the Slender Man once again scare the pants off us?
The game begins with you controlling a lady named Lauren, who has gone to her friend Kate’s house after hearing of her disappearance. It doesn’t take long for you to realise that something isn’t quite right, but with your car immobilised due to a tree falling on it, you have nothing left to do but explore the area. Upon finding a burnt out house, you encounter your first sign of life – a human that appears to be severely malnourished – and being the inquisitive creature that you are, you obviously go to investigate. This is the first time that the game will probably scare the bejeezus out of you, and trust me, unless you have nerves of steel, it sure won’t be the last.
Split across eight chapters, Slender: The Arrival is a fairly simple game. To progress, you generally need to find objects in the environment such as mysterious pages, power generators or gas canisters. However, to make things challenging and scare your socks off, you are usually pursued by some supernatural entity such as The Slender Man or The Chaser. Tension constantly runs high as you have no means of defence bar your torch, which can be used to sometimes blind your pursuer, halting their approach temporarily. Truth be told, the game can be quite challenging, especially on harder difficulties. The constant threat of the unknown means you spend much of your time running, and whilst your character eventually tires, rendering your running pace nothing more than a slow jog, your pursuers are relentless. The frenzy of being pursued also sometimes saw me getting stuck on scenery as I fled, but I quickly accepted this as the typical thing I would probably do in real life if I was running as a result of panic. It took me around 3 hours to complete the game my first time on easy mode so it is admittedly short, but replayabilty is offered in the form of multiple difficulty modes and some unlockable bonus chapters. The brevity of the title may be an issue to some, but for me it felt just about right. The horror would be hard to sustain for any longer and the gameplay mechanics are too limited for a full length title.
Graphically, Slender: The Arrival is a mixed bag. Upon starting the game I was mightily impressed by the near photo-realistic outdoor environments. Unfortunately, as I progressed I discovered that the indoor environments and character models were not up to same standard – though they weren’t ugly enough to affect my enjoyment of the game. Perhaps more crucial to a horror game however, is the audio, which I found to be impeccable. All the locations have a foreboding ambience that is heightened by excellent use of sound effects to put you on edge. What truly makes the hairs on the back your neck stand up though, are the audio and visual noises signifying the proximity of your pursuers.
If you’re looking to experience pure horror then Slender: The Arrival is one of the best games currently available. Although its gameplay mechanics are monotonous, its varied locations and constant tension throughout create a unique experience that will stay with you long after the credits have rolled. I liked that the story was non-intrusive and still left a lot of mystery with regards to the titular Slender Man, maintaining your fear of him on subsequent playthroughs. While its short length may be off-putting to some, anyone looking for a good scare would be wise to invest in this game and a clean pair of underwear.