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.

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.

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...

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

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.

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.

Phelaidar
Phelaidar

@001011000101101 It's a good game with good graphics, interesting ideas and low budget. It deserves a great score. Just look how many millions EA, Ubisoft, Capcom waste on games and don't achieve the same quality, or similar quality to an indie game...

Shanks_D_Chop
Shanks_D_Chop

@001011000101101 Consider the score as being relative both to the production level of the title as well as the cost to the consumer.

It'd also be nice if, with your slightly damning comment, you could outline why you feel the score is undeserved.

Skhuff
Skhuff

@oOhedzOo Wait, sending this to the developer and will ask for a reward for your valuable suggestions.

SipahSalar
SipahSalar

@Gbullet How can you not know? Do you live under a rock or something? When a game is "indie" and on top of that had very little production values (amnesia is indie but still had high production values), that automatically earns the game a "5.0" on GS. So the actual score of this game is "3.5". Which is well deserved. Good job GS :)

oOhedzOo
oOhedzOo

@pisoni94 that's because every person buys a game with 2 things in mind:

1. how much is it?

2. Is it  worth the price?

GoBlue11
GoBlue11

It is repetitive, indeed. But the scares are still quite good. And, while I don't agree with the 8.5, there is no need to compare/contrast it with the reviews that God of War and Crysis 3 recieved. They are wildly different games with wildly different budgets and styles. However, if we were comparing scores between Crysis and another popular FPS, then this argument would hold water. In your case, no, it does not.

Alexk91
Alexk91

@Michael1571 Wow, a smarmy, self-important, disrespectful ponce that thinks his experience with a game is universally reflective of everyone's experience, and as such should be considered by this reviewer when writing the review, instead of using his own experience with the game as the basis for his review, regardless of what his opinion actually is! 

I'm going to let you in on a secret, and I know this might sound scary, but believe it or not, people can actually voice their contrasting opinions, without being insulting and rude. In fact, being polite when voicing your opinion on something, tends to make people more willing to listen to you.

tweet7
tweet7

@miser_cz Ooh, what a cutting indictment of a non-existent conflict of interest. Who is this miser_cz? Enemy of Starkey I suppose?

LukeWesty
LukeWesty

@MaKillaGorilla  

I agree slender man sometimes pops up out of no where and it kinda shocks ya sometimes, well me anyway and I'm quite unfazed by most horrors so hats off to them.

hwrdstrnsbals
hwrdstrnsbals

@RevengeNegative 

isn't that the point of a professional review?  is that not the job of a professional critic?  To be as objective as possible, while appealing to his very audience?  


If people wanted subjective advice, they would just ask their grandma for game purchasing advice. 


don't be such a blockhead.  

DanCStarkey
DanCStarkey

@RevengeNegative It's not that big of a deal. These are nicer comments than you'd find most other places on the internet. They're pretty mixed too, much like the reviews themselves. 

Ultimately I would like to think I did a decent job of defending the score with my review. If others disagree, that's fine. No big deal.

SAMARAI117
SAMARAI117

@wavelength121 @Runock Repetitive, boring and dull is what I'd say. Every one is jumping on the bandwagon and saying how super original, scary and awesome the slender games are! When you don't really do anything really interesting at all. People will say "Oh but it's really scary!" No. That once again is over hype and exaggeration, I was falling asleep waiting for something scary to happen playing the original and this. But creepy sounds and an ass hole in a suit popping up every so often is not scary at all. Jump scares do not = horror. This is of course my own opinion of the title, don't take it personally or get all fanboy rage at me.

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.

SipahSalar
SipahSalar

@oOhedzOo @pisoni94 If thats the case i can name a dozen old games which you can get for $10 now and are MUCH better than this crap. Should their scores be revised?

wizardboyus
wizardboyus

@SipahSalar @oOhedzOo @pisoni94 ...no because these reviewers are journalists, they're reporting on CURRENT events. there's no point for them to go back and revise scores just because a game has a better bang for it's buck in the future. EVERY game is gonna cost less eventually, the reviewers job is to score the game based on how it performs right after release...including the value of the game on release day

wizardboyus
wizardboyus

@SipahSalar @oOhedzOo @pisoni94 no because journalists report on current events, no point in them wasting time to go back and change scores just because it's a better bang for it's buck at a later time..?? sounds pretty redundant..they rate the games based on how they perform at the time of release

oOhedzOo
oOhedzOo

@LukeWesty I don't mind myself. My grammer isn't perfect and I want people to fix my mistakes. He didn't say anything rude, did he?

Slender: The Arrival More Info

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  • First Released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • + 2 more
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    Slender: The Arrival is the official continuation of Slender: The Eight Pages.
    6.4
    Average User RatingOut of 165 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Slender: The Arrival
    Developed by:
    Blue Isle Studios
    Published by:
    Midnight City, Blue Isle Studios, Majesco Games
    Genres:
    Adventure, First-Person, 3D
    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