Considering Slender Man was originally created on a forum site, it is remarkable just how big Slender Man seems to have become in the hierarchy of classic horror baddies. Truth be told though, it’s not hard to see why the Slender Man became much more than simply being a thread on a website. He (it?) is the epitome of everything you would want out of a horror character. A slim male, with extremely long and elongated arms and legs, topped off with a featureless face. It is the stuff of nightmares. The worst thing though is that he chases you.
Even if you haven’t played the games yourself, if you are the type of person who watches people play games on sites like YouTube or Twitch, chances are you have probably seen at least one of the Slender games before. The original Slender game released in 2012 and became one of the most streamed games online around that time, it was the cool thing to play, and watch. Everyone seemed to be doing one or the other. It has even spawned a full, feature-length movie, it’s just rather rubbish.
If you have never seen the game before in any capacity, Slender: The Arrival is a first-person, survival horror title in which you have to fulfil certain objectives, whilst not being caught by the aforementioned, and rather terrifying, Slender Man. One section, for example, has you searching for eight pages that have been scattered throughout the level, but because Mr Slender is chasing you, it does make for a rather sticky situation.
This is fine, but the opening gameplay section is dull, to say the least. I wanted it to give me something to go off during the first few minutes, but here, all you have is a very uninteresting walk to a house. I would not mind if there were nice things to look at or do on my way, but there is not. I know it’s only a few minutes long but it puts a downer on things right from the get-go. Thankfully, after the initial section, it turns from light to dark, you pick up a flashlight and it gets better.
It’s the lack of any kind of weapon that makes Slender: The Arrival so frightening during the first hour because you have no way of defending yourself. The feeling of being watched is also done really well and the suspense and anticipation of seeing Slender Man are downright frightening. Whenever he gets close, white noise will occur, your controller will rumble and the screen will become all weird and distorted.
He can appear in the background randomly and to begin with, it is so frightening, that your first reaction is to get the hell out of there. If you are in the least bit nervous whilst playing games and get startled easily, then there will be points where you will want to press pause and give yourself a minute to compose yourself, because it feels like something could happen at any minute and that is the best (or worst) part about the experience.
The sound design helps in this regard too and is certainly one of the best aspects of the game, as it helps give off a very discomforting and unsettling feeling. It helps drive the main feature of the game, which is, of course, to scare you. Without it being as strong as it is, I think it would have massively impacted on the experience.
Unfortunately, the scariest part is the opening section and its also true that the first half of the game, is a lot better than the second. After this, it seems it falls into a bit of a rut and it all becomes very mundane. If you compare it to something like Outlast, which plays in a similar kind of way, you get to see just how bland it becomes once the initial hype of seeing Slender Man is over. Considering this is a very short game, coming in at around two hours or so, that is pretty bad. It should be able to sustain a decent level of quality throughout or at least mix things up a little, but it does not.
Slender: The Arrival is not the best-looking game either. Well, I am actually being very kind to it there; it is a horrid looking game on the Switch. It is a title from 2013, but it looks like it pre-dates that by a good number of years. It seems that too much was scaled back and downgraded, in order to make the Switch be able to run the title at a decent framerate.
I had a decent enough time with Slender: The Arrival, but only really for the first half of the game. The second half treads heavily on the toes of repetition and makes it become rather mundane to get through. When the full length of the game is only two hours and the second of those hours relies too heavily on the same, predictable scare tactics of the first hour, there is something wrong. Initially, those scare tactics work wonders and you will find it terrifying, but it simply does not last. If you’re a horror fan and are desperate for a quick, budget-priced game to tide you over, then you can definitely do worse, just don’t expect too much out of it.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Blue Isle Studios