Slender: The Arrival Review

The survival horror genre gets another gem in the form of Slender: The Arrival, one of the most terrifying games in recent memory.

For years, conventional thought has said that the survival horror genre is on the decline, if not dying outright. As classic bastions of slower, more psychological play drifted into twitch gameplay and heavy commercialization, more and more independent games have managed to keep vigil for those who appreciate genuine terror. Slender: The Arrival is the latest game in this modern revival. Built up from an elegantly distilled core of exploration and vulnerability, The Arrival asserts the brilliantly masochistic joy of fear.

Slender: The Arrival takes its name from a relatively new urban legend: the Slender Man. Created from whole cloth by an Internet denizen, this information age monster is a far cry from anything in the classical pantheon. His unique mythology and strangely broad appeal meant that it didn't take long for the eerie figure to make his way to video games. The Arrival's predecessor, The Eight Pages, was an exceptionally well-made proof of concept that became somewhat of a YouTube sensation. Thousands of people posted videos of themselves wandering through a foggy, mysterious forest searching for eight pieces of paper with only a flashlight to guide them. While a successful run took only about 30 minutes, that pure sense of helplessness in the face of an unknown threat became the foundation for this well-realized sequel.

Keeping the focus on weakness and exploration, Arrival expands on the ideas of the original with a basic story and the creative application of old mechanics. The game is broken up into five chapters, each with its own focus. You play as Lauren, a woman driving to see her friend Kate. Shortly before the events of the game, Kate's mother passed away. On Lauren's way to Kate's house, her path is blocked by a fallen tree. Committing the worst sin in horror stories, she continues the rest of the way on foot.

One of the first items you find is a flashlight. Pushing back the veil of darkness that looms over the area, it's the closest thing to a weapon you get. It has two modes, one that casts light over a large area but has limited range, and another that does the opposite. Together, you and your precious flashlight trek through five chapters, which include a house, an abandoned mine, and several wooded areas closely resembling the setting of the first game.

It should come as no surprise that the game's primary antagonist is the Slender Man. A really tall, faceless man, he often appears very close to you, causing the screen to become distorted. The warped screen rapidly becomes more violent the longer you look at him and the closer you are, making it impossible to safely examine the ghastly killer. That, combined with the dark, misty environments, keeps the fear of the unknown at the forefront throughout. Level design is equally oppressive, in the best possible way. The initial areas are large and open with plenty of places to run if the Slender Man makes an unexpected appearance. Tension is high, but there isn't much real danger. Later, however, particularly as you make your way through an abandoned mine, tight passageways and scattered industrial equipment limit movement. The faint echo of footsteps and moans makes it hard to pin down just where your pursuer will come from, which elicits panicked, frenetic play.

Unfortunately, as spectacularly as the claustrophobic design works in some areas, the effect of it is hampered by a few awkward controls. Most PC games use a single button or key to open or close doors. Slender: The Arrival, however, requires you to click doors and then flick the mouse in one or another direction. This also happens to be the only control in the entire game that you cannot change in the options menu. While it's easy to see that the designers were going for an immersive scheme, this unusual mechanic doesn't work well in every case, potentially causing you to scream and blindly mash at the keyboard. Thankfully, this is only a major issue in one part of one chapter, but it's frustrating regardless.

The Arrival is no technological triumph, though cutting-edge visuals aren't vital when everything is cloaked in a peculiarly pervasive darkness. Screen effects work as a clear indicator of danger, however, and are quite effective. Effects like motion blur enhance the disorientation when you're panicked, and are solid, appropriate inclusions. Together, everything works toward an amateur, Blair Witch Project aesthetic. Feelings of abandonment and being alone in the wilderness are powerful, and they are evoked here with finesse. Equally masterful is the sound design. The ever-so-slightly paranormal setting is matched by a surreal, atonal background hum. Footsteps and the errant rustling of leaves give you the constant feeling of being watched, even when nothing can be found, and each time you pick up a new clue, a new instrument enters the sonic landscape. This reinforces the malevolent atmosphere and ensures that even during the relatively few calm segments, you are never completely at ease.

At about two hours, the game isn't so long that the constant apprehension becomes tiring. There is a smattering of collectibles to help flesh out the backstory, but because taking extra time to search for them places you at greater danger, you must weigh narrative cohesion against survival. The lure of these collectables is subtle, but it adds value and keeps you from becoming too comfortable with the world. After all, if there were no real, tangible danger, the Slender Man would cease to be an effective monster.

As a sort-of myth born on the Internet, Slender Man is probably one of the first genuinely compelling monsters to grace pop culture in a long time. The related games and their variants and mods, as well as the stories and YouTube videos surrounding them, show the genesis of 21st century folklore. While a little rough around the edges, The Arrival is fascinating because it plays on modern fears through a modern medium. For that, it has managed to breathe new life into a genre once thought dead. Slender is not an experience you will soon forget, and at $10, is priced just about right for its short length. Just be sure to play at night with headphones for full effect. Good luck.

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The Good
Impeccable atmosphere
Genuine psychological horror
Creative presentation of narrative
Excellent pacing
The Bad
Control nuisances lead to frustration
8
Great
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127 comments
sinik_87
sinik_87

I just don't find a tall man in a suit constantly popping into view scary... 
If you think like prey you'll feel like prey. Simple. 

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

This game has THANKFULLY been seriously given way more content in subsequent updates.  A significantly bigger first level and a brand new ending which really highly improves the experience.  I just wish the game would catch on with the mod community.  I'd love to see fans make their own custom Slender levels.  Considering how popular Slender is for making extremely crappy Slender games, I'd love to see people embrace this game engine so that at least the quality level and the basic gameplay would be heavily improved over basically all other Slender games (Haunted Memories being the only other legit Slender game competitor in terms of quality).


I really like the movement feel and the great use of the flashlight in this game, so I really wish PC modders would pick this game up and make new levels for it.


*sigh* wishful thinking.

Xander563
Xander563

Could you imagine this game with the graphics of the PS4 or Hi-End desktop? Would be stunning and terrifying.

Jedilink109
Jedilink109

@Xander563  The graphics are quite fantastic to be honest.  Even though my laptop is a gaming laptop it's years old and can't crank ALL the visual details (namely antialiasing) BUT the game looks fantastic.

nyran125tk
nyran125tk

I enjoyed playing through the free game of slender, don't care what anyone says. It was free.

Justin_G
Justin_G

there are some really silly people that live on this planet and post here.


it's a very simple 10 dollar game that's effective in portraying a sort of paranoia and fright, whilst having a great atmosphere. that's why it got a great score. the less a game has to bring it down, the more chance it has on getting a high score. since Slender's only problem was it's bad controls, it was warranted a good score. this isn't Crysis... this isn't even an indie game. (well, sure it is but my point is...) it's just a game. GET OVER IT.

Thatkidstevo
Thatkidstevo

I enjoyed playing it with friends. watching them jump and scream was hilarious. A must play at hangouts. xD

RockZillaX
RockZillaX

Great game!! a little grainy on the graphics but who cares .. no one cared Silent Hill 1 was crappy graphics... not with such an otherwise impressive game built on atmosphere rather than high end graphics

001011000101101
001011000101101

once again, and indie game scores way higher than it should, just for being an indie game.

botsio
botsio

i tried playing this game on may day!i started by collecting 4 pages with for more to go!with headphones on i was uneasy!thus i took them off to ease up a bit!just as i was approaching the building in the woods my screen stated glitching thus i was too scared to enter the building.i decicided to run circles around the building for a while to play it safe!just as i was rounding a corner i saw him from the corner of my eye!i run from my pc screaming,including a friend who was watching me play!i quit the game there and then!i've had enough!i might try again but not ant time soon!too creepy!i i know those who say its not scary are lying!deadly silence on the ds  was scary but the controls was horrible it marred the game!this game is double that!

botsio
botsio

i can see people talking,bickering here and there!this game is scary as shit!the sound effects will make u shit in ur pants!dementium made me feel the same way every time i played it with head phones on!this game had it a console release will beat resi and silent hill hands down!i didn't like the controls of the first game but they made amens by improving upon the second!i have slender the arrival!i'm just weighing the psychological factor of scaring my self to shits every night!

oOhedzOo
oOhedzOo

The review apparently considered the 10$ price tag. I loved the game and I have some suggestions to make it better:

-fix the door handling.

-give the character emotions.

-slender man's movement is easy to understand. or maybe I'm too smart.

-add something worth collecting like batteries, recorded tapes and area markers. the papers are fine though, I enjoyed reading them.

-no puzzles? the game is all about finding things over and over.


Runock
Runock

Terrible review. This game is a one trick borefest. Look at other opinions guys.

EL_Bomberdor
EL_Bomberdor

This game has tons of potential but is very short.

Gbullet
Gbullet

This got as much as Amnesia : The Dark Descent,,, how is that possible...

Gbullet
Gbullet

@SipahSalar What kind of stupid rule is that ? When a game is indie it automatically gets a 5.0 ? I dont know if your trying to be sarcastic or funny, but you failed at both.

pisoni94
pisoni94

can someone tell me what gamespot uses to rate their games because crytek was a well polished game and it got 7.5 and this got 8.5?


Gbullet
Gbullet

8,5 for this game ? This is a joke right ? This short, over hyped fright fest got an 8,5, better than God of War Ascension or Crysis 3... A short, buggy and dull game. Sure it is scary, has lots of atmosphere, but let us be real about this, objectives are so boring, the game is about 1 hour long, and its repetitive like no other, and it gets an 8,5.

Michael1571
Michael1571

This game is a waste of time. All you do is run around in empty spaces looking for objects and if you are unlucky enough, you get attacked by a well dressed ghost. When the screen starts to shake, run around like crazy and you will be allright. It's an adventure game without puzzles, maybe they should call it adventure for retarded people or something. After playing for some minutes I wanted someone to come and save me from absolute boredom! Nice work Gamespot!

LukeWesty
LukeWesty

I have just finished Slender it took me about 1 and a half hour's and 30 mins of that was looking for those dambed page's so it is painfully short, saying that I did really enjoy the 1 and a half hour and the game did only cost £6 so I didn't expect lots but it was a good little experience I guess.

miser_cz
miser_cz

Who is this Daniel Starkey? Friend of developer I suppose?

sirscarecrow
sirscarecrow

8.5 ? So just because the game is short and only costing 10 usd it gets a 8.5 ? 90% of what you do in the game is walk around and run. The fear-mongering music is the only thing that keeps you on your toes and yes it does scare you at times but it is also repetitive and annoying. The graphics are at least 6 years outdated and the game is very linear and boring and yet this game gets a 8.5? Let's face some facts here, the game is ok. I would give it a 6.5 but a 8.5, the heck???

mrgorgun
mrgorgun

dont care what anyone thinks,the game is scary as fuck lol

korvus
korvus moderator

I guess I just went into this game with the wrong approach. First thing I did was try to find the Slenderman so I could look at him. Then proceeded to run circles around the guy to see how long it would take for my char to die of fear. Then I realised he looks like a giant Piñata...couldn't get into the game after that...


(Not saying anything against the people who enjoyed the game, just saying I probably shouldn't have gone into the game with that attitude)

MaKillaGorilla
MaKillaGorilla

I like the game. Not many movies or games scare me, last one being the original Dead Space and maybe SCP-087-B but this game kinda got under my skin. Guess im a sucker for urban legends and the like.


RevengeNegative
RevengeNegative

To you guys who do not rely on Gamespot's reviews - and therefore guidance in general: seriously why the hell are you here in the first place?! This review of Slender: The Arrival is based on one single person's subjective expiriences with the game, which happens to be very positive. Deal with it, or go somewhere else!

00LiteYear
00LiteYear

Slender isn't scary. People are just scared.

dutchgamer83
dutchgamer83

So this game that gets a terrible score every where else scores a 8.5, but Evoland that is a nice game scores a 5....yeah GS makes sense once again.

Arsyad00
Arsyad00

GS reviewer fool of trolls

rasputin177
rasputin177

Look I am all about unique and creative games but I mean whats the point of this game? Can he even kill you? Is there a quality story? Obviously no combat or RPG like elements. So, basically all you do is walk around and then run around when you see the slender man? I ask again whats the point? I am honestly asking.

Freynow
Freynow

Rated this game higher than the whole Silent Hill series? You are a fiasco Gamespot.

McGuirex3
McGuirex3

Wow 8.5 and no Video Review! And yet they just gave Evoland  a Video Review with a 5.0 interesting indeed! Sorry ran out of edit time on the post below.

McGuirex3
McGuirex3

Wow 8.5 and no Video Review!

davidsworld3
davidsworld3

This is nothing new. I will say that the slender man is an appealing scary monster but he never actually attacks you, the screen just goes to static.  Honestly I hate these kind of horror games where all you can do is run, I prefer the old school games like silent hill and the old resident evil games where you can defend yourself. It's still scary but offers more options and fun in my opinion.

I will never buy this and frankly I think this review is giving it way too much credit.  I'll skip it I've already seen a dozen videos on youtube for me to not need to play this.

simo_tmm
simo_tmm

Is this an Amnesia rip-off? Because it sounds like one.

ArataWata
ArataWata

Can't wait for PewDiePie to ruin this.

canelacandy
canelacandy

Why the fuck are there achievements in a horro game, it ruins the atmosphere

naryanrobinson
naryanrobinson

Are you actually kidding me right now?

The second you've finished this game you'll be wanting your money back.

It's half-finished "shovelware" that uses a total lack of NPCs to create atmosphere, and uses atmosphere as a substitute for story AND gameplay, and on top of *that*, it's full of bugs and unforgivably short.

If you really want to play Slender, download one of the free games.  They're not good either, but since they're free they can't be considered thievery.

-EDIT-  Look at GoG, the user score, or even the Metacritic if you want to get a better idea of this game.  It's the same trick over and over and over again until the game ends.  It was scary once or twice, but by even half way through it's nothing but *stale*.

Prats1993
Prats1993

The gameplay might be half assed, but its still scarier than 95% of Mainstream horror games. That in itself is an achievement.

spammehardo
spammehardo

I don't get how anyone could give this game a high rating. It has one dumb overused and now completely stale gimmick. There is no real compelling story or psychological build up. Just ohmahgod it'z slendar man 2spooky 4 me!1LOL11!

H0rizon
H0rizon

Great game all around.

Anthrizacks
Anthrizacks

Relatively meaningless statistics are boring

gtandiono
gtandiono

this game feels like a demo; finished it in one sitting, but scary as hell, I got that blair witch feeling when i played

toane
toane

I'm leaning towards buying this game...
For me it would be awesome if: 
1. They announce a linux version. 
2. They pass a steam greenlight.
3. It is mod friendly, and the community creates custom content, like amnesia.
I'd be willing to pay six times its price for such things. 

Lumon
Lumon

I think that this concept isnt scary because of slenderman its scary because of the atmosphere.One a lot of games have not touched on.What is keeping someone from  doing this on a bigger scale game with the same atmosphere and flashlight setting? Where you are in a haunted house or something. That would be great. I want to see a big publisher take this on, with great graphics, animations and atmosphere at its core. I would pre order something like that. No one is making good big budget horror games anymore. Silent Hill series has gotten terrible, Resident evil is an action game.

skr10
skr10

It has a great atmosphere and good scares, sure, but that's about it. It can be finished in under an hour or so. Amnesia received the same score and was way, way better (and longer!), the only thing it didn't have was cutting edge graphics (but they were still pretty good and effective).

xsonicchaos
xsonicchaos

I disagree with every bit of this review. The game is not completely caca, but it's still a stinker. I'm not antagonizing, I'm just expressing my opinion after buying the game because this review convinced me it's a 8.5 game. It is clearly nowhere near an 8.5 game.

GamerNerdTalk
GamerNerdTalk

This game is really solid. Defiantly worth the $10

Slender: The Arrival More Info

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  • First Released
    released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • + 4 more
    • PS3
    • PS4
    • Xbox 360
    • Xbox One
    Slender: The Arrival is the official continuation of Slender: The Eight Pages.
    6.5
    Average Rating174 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Slender: The Arrival
    Developed by:
    Blue Isle Studios
    Published by:
    Midnight City, Blue Isle Studios, Majesco Games
    Genre(s):
    3D, First-Person, Adventure
    Theme(s):
    Modern
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Blood, Violence