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Slender: The Arrival

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know who Slenderman is and why he’s boosted underwear sales across the globe.  For that reason, I really enjoyed reviewing “Slender: The Eight Pages”, the precursor and field test for the recently released “Slender: The Arrival”.  In case you aren’t familiar with either game, “Slender: The Eight Pages” tasks you with collecting eight pages scattered around a forest, in the dark.  Slenderman, a faceless something-or-other in a suit, eventually shows up and attempts to hunt you down.  With your only weapon being a flashlight (I use the term “weapon” loosely), you’ll be racing to collect the eight pages before it catches up with you.  “Slender: The Arrival” is the official sequel, promising to bring more scares and more Slender goodness to the table.  Before we get into specifics, I’d like to thank the folks at Blue Isle Studios for providing me with a free review copy.

Slender: The Arrival

Slender: The Arrival (Windows, Mac)

The main menu allows the user to start a new game, select a stage, view extras, and adjust game options.  The options menu is fairly meaty, allowing you to adjust the difficulty, mouse sensitivity, gamma, key bindings, audio sliders, and various graphics settings.  The graphics settings include your common toggles like screen resolution, vsync, fullscreen, texture quality, bloom, anti-aliasing, and more.  The extras menu is place where you can view your scrapbook, which consists of various notes that you’ll be picking up along the way.  This menu also provides the time it took for you to complete a particular level, allowing you to go back and attempt to complete them faster.

The game is broken up into six different levels, each one tasking you with collecting or interacting with a set number of objects.  The first mission after the prologue, for example, will task you with collecting eight pages in a forest-like setting…sound familiar?  Not to worry, the layout of the level is completely different, as is the structures and objects you’ll see.  Those who are able to speed run through “The Eight Pages” will be scrambling to find that next page before the mystery man himself catches up with them.  New to the series is the idea that the other stages won’t necessarily include pages to collect. You might have to turn on a set number of generators, for example, before progressing to the next stage.  While it’s refreshing to see something other than pages to collect, it’s still a variation on the same theme.  These six stages do, however, tie into one larger story.  In this case, you are Lauren, a woman who is visiting her friend Kate.  You’ll quickly discover that something is wrong…surprise, surprise.  To avoid spoilers, I’ll hold off on saying anything more than that.

Slender: The Arrival

The sequel is still a seek-and-find, through and through.

The control scheme is roughly the same in that you’ll be able to move forward, back, and side to side.  You can sprint, though like “The Eight Pages”, you can tire out should you use it too much.  The flashlight, as far as I can tell, has unlimited battery power on normal difficulty.  Battery power and stamina are much more limited on the hardcore difficulty.  You can focus the flashlight with the right mouse button, which will serve a purpose later on in the game.  New to the series is your point of view, which happens to be through the eyes of a video camera.  Besides being able to zoom a short distance, it doesn’t seem to do much else besides provide a level of extra suspense.  The game doesn’t seem to include any sort of tutorial, so if there is more to these mechanics, the game hasn’t done well enough in communicating that with the player.  You can toggle the HUD, should you get tired of looking at the camera display.  You can also crouch in this game, though I’ve been too busy high-tailing it to really make use of that function.

My favorite addition to the series?  You’ll be facing a new monster in addition to the dreaded Slenderman.  Where Slenderman has the bad habit of popping up and spawning near you at the worst possible moment, this new monster physically chases you.  It is a fast little sucker too, so be sure to reserve some of your sprint energy until you actually need it.  At one point, it caught me in the third level, jumped on top of me, and got directly into my face…but strangely wandered off after a short few seconds.  I noticed afterwards however that my movement speed was slowed to a crawl for about a minute. Needless to say, I didn’t hang around to see if the thing could actually kill me.  Slenderman himself becomes a bit more aggressive the further along you get in the game, so expect some scary moments that are borderline unfair.  At one point, Slenderman will have the ability to just pop right in front of you and end the game.  I found that particular move to be a bit cheap, even if it did cause me to jump a little.

Slender: The Arrival

Slenderman isn’t the only one you’ll need to watch out for.

Is it worth the ten dollars it sells for?  Honestly, that depends.  The graphics are still a bit outdated in comparison to the horror games out on the market today.  While you can interact with doors and windows, the animations aren’t as streamlined and smooth as they are in “Amnesia: The Dark Descent”.  I found the ambience in “The Eight Pages” to be a bit more scary, as the audio ques like the piano keys being slammed on or the owl hooting are absent from this game.  You’ll occasionally hear footsteps around you, but the game didn’t scare me as much as it could have.  Whether this is because I’ve played a ton of horror games or simply due to bad game design, I’m not one hundred percent certain.  Besides running from point of interest to point of interest, there’s not much else to do besides collect things for your scrapbook.  I believe that it is a good game overall, but it could stand to use more variety and fresh gameplay mechanics to set itself apart from the other unofficial Slenderman games on the market.

Final verdict: 7/10

You can learn more about and purchase the game via the following websites:

http://slenderarrival.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Slender-The-Arrival/349286818491298

You can view video play sessions here:

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