SLENDER: THE ARRIVAL
Console: Wii U
Start Date: October 26, 2015
End Date: January 11, 2016
When I started the Nintendo Resolution at the beginning of 2015, my goal was to make as much progress as possible in reducing my enormous backlog of unbeaten games. By the end of the year, I had come a long way in accomplishing that goal, but along with the dozen games that I’d eliminated from my backlog list, there were also a handful of new additions to that list – games I started in 2015, but hadn’t finished by the end of the year. I decided to make these games my first priority of the new year, starting with Slender: The Arrival.
Back in October of 2015, as Halloween was approaching, I really wanted to play a scary game on my Wii U. I thought the new Fatal Frame would scratch that itch, but after having mixed feelings about the demo, I decided to take a blind chance on the other, cheaper new horror release on the system, Slender: The Arrival.
The Slender Man is an internet-born urban legend about a creepily tall and thin supernatural entity, which has captured the imagination of many horror fans, myself included. In addition to appearing in fiction, art and movies (all at a grassroots “internet” level), he has also been the subject of a few indie games, the most notable of which was Slender: The Eight Pages, a 2012 freeware game which was later expanded and refined into Slender: The Arrival.
Upon loading up the game, I was immediately impressed by its presentation. I’m generally a fan of found-footage horror movies, but it never occurred to me how perfectly that format could fit in with a first-person video game. Perhaps this gimmick has previously been used elsewhere, but Slender: The Arrival is the first time I’ve encountered it, and I thought it was extremely clever.
One of the many criticisms of the game that I’ve read in reviews and such is that it has janky, old-fashioned graphics. I guess that’s technically true, but maybe I just have low standards, because I found its woodsy setting beautiful to look at and walk around in.
The gameplay, such as it is, consists mostly of walking around woods, houses and caves, collecting scraps of paper with plot points written on them, and avoiding the Slender Man, who can often be seen silently stalking you from a distance.
Honestly, most of it is pretty dull. But, since I’m a wuss, the game’s cheap scares were embarrassingly effective on me. I am just such an easy mark for shit like this:
In fact, after playing for a while, I suddenly encountered one of the game’s many cheesy jump scares – I turned around and THERE WAS SLENDER MAN RIGHT IN MY FACE, ACCOMPANIED BY A REALLY LOUD MUSICAL STING! I literally went “AAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!” on the couch, and then turned the game off and didn’t return to it until January 11th, 2016.
When I started the game up again, I found that I was really having trouble following the game’s story. To be fair, that’s partially because I’d stopped playing for two months, halfway through the game. But I’m pretty sure it’s also partially because the story is stupid nonsense. In any event, I powered through the last couple of segments and beat the game.
There are my final stats, which are pretty lame. I’d forgotten that I played the game on Easy mode. What a dork. I also apparently missed an entire chapter of gameplay entitled “Genesis” so maybe I’ll go back and try to find that? No I won’t.
Look, Slender: The Arrival is by no means a terrible game. It looks cool, has a clever presentation and fun environments, and offers some effective scares. But it’s also very short, sparse, shallow, and probably some other negative adjectives which start with S. And, with a $10 price point (on the Wii U eShop, as well as XBox One, PS4 and Steam), it’s also way, way too expensive. If your curiosity gets the best of you, I’d say your best bet is to just try out Slender: The Eight Pages for free instead.
One last thing. Hey developers, it’s cruel to include this in your horror game…
…but not allow me to pick it up and heal myself. Jerks!