You thought it was over. After booting up Parsec Productions sleeper hit Slender: The Eight Pages so many times and probably having the scariest time of your life playing such a simple game, you probably thought it was the last you’d see of the disturbing and enigmatic Slenderman.
Thankfully, that isn’t the case.
Slender: The Arrival
Developed by Parsec Productions and Blue Isle Studios / Published by Blue Isle Studios
Available on the PC
*Review copy provided by Blue Isle Studios
Parsec Productions, in conjunction with developer Blue Isle Studios, is at it again with Slender: The Arrival, a full-fledged entry in the series that adds gorgeous visuals, a mind-numbing soundtrack and more of the same jump scares that captivated us right from the start. But does this pseudo-sequel expand on the greatness of the first, or does getting greater production values dilute the horror contained within?
While the first Slender was more of an experiment and was devoid of a true storyline, this time around the development team brought in Marble Hornets, the team behind the Slender Man Youtube videos. While it’s not very prominent in the game, it does add some ambiance to the game. In it, you control a woman named Lauren who’s visiting her friend Kate. Upon arriving at her house in the middle of the night and the ransacked rooms inside, players find out that Kate somehow made contact with the famed antagonist, and is fighting for her life. The game then turns into a race against time as players search for clues to Kate’s whereabouts, while being pursued by the Slender Man.
Overall, the game plays just like you remember (if you played the first one). Players still traverse wide open environments searching for a number of objects that will allow players to beat the game, but this time around it takes place in different story levels. Some stages take place outdoors, similar to the first game’s environment, while others take place in more varied locales, like the dark and foreboding interior of a refinery. Each location is fantastically designed and looks great, and not to mention is dripping with scary imagery, like freaky scribbles, tossed furniture, and more.
Players are still as vulnerable as ever when facing the horrors that wait, using only a trusty flashlight and the ability to run from enemies who are in pursuit. What’s pretty cool is that the first-person view is now shown through the lens of a handheld cam, giving the game a found-footage feel.
Another addition is a new terrifying enemy, known as the proxy. It’s a ghastly woman who’ll stalk and viciously run at you, aiming to tear off your face off. By constantly shining a powered up beam of light at her you can freeze the creature in place, but just like the Slender Man you can’t kill it and must avoid it while completing your objectives. It’s the fact that you can’t stop your enemies from pursuing you that makes the game quite frightening. I for one was pretty nervous throughout my playthrough due to this.
While the game sounds like a perfect horror game, it does have its setbacks. One of my biggest gripes is that collectable objects are occasionally hard to find. If you are in close proximity, the item gets a glowing border to let you know you can interact with it, but this happens only if you’re very close. This usually leads to players running past crucial items, due to being pursued, and can lead to frustration knowing you could have passed the level but ended up short.
Another gripe is the game is too short. There are only five levels in this game, and they go by very quickly. One minute you’re playing the game, and then you suddenly see the ending. It’s unfortunate that such an enjoyable experience like this one is brief, but thankfully the game features a number of difficulties to keep players coming for more.
In the end, Slender: The Arrival is a fine game and an excellent experiment in horror. The already-classic mechanics of the first game are brought back with a couple of new additions to the formula, so newcomers and veterans alike will feel right at home here. If you’re looking for a genuine scare and some of the most pulse-pounding gameplay available, you should really check out Slender: The Arrival.