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Slender: The Arrival (Video Game)

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Slender: The Arrival

Slender: The ArrivalAvailable for PlayStation 4 (reviewed), Xbox One, PC

Rated M for Mature

Developed by Blue Isle Studios


It is really popular and easy to bash Slenderman these days. I can’t really blame anyone that does, since even before teenagers started killing people in his name, he was kind of silly. The internet has this habit of ruining good ideas with over complication, and Slenderman is not free from these insidious tendrils. What started as a simple photoshop of a tall man in the background of a playground for a SomethingAwful thread spawned the mythos of some kind of eater of children with ethereal tentacles coming from somewhere behind him.

Anytime your monster eats specifically children, shit starts silly, but it was creepy enough that it spawned the web video series “The Marble Hornets.” The premise was simple enough; Jay, the protagonist and main narrator through the series, receives a number of tapes from his high school friend Alex of a movie they shot but never edited together. The name of the YouTube channel is eponymous with the film, “The Marble Hornets,” so other than the uncanny found footage and text on screen presentation, nothing is immediately sinister. Soon, Jay is disturbed by the presence of a mysterious tall figure in the background of some of the shots. It is revealed that not all of the tapes are of the shooting of the movie, but some are of Alex as he attempts to document something stalking him.

Soon, the same thing begins stalking Jay, and the hunt is on to find out what exactly is going on. Camera distortions ensue, strange drawings are found, mysteries are afoot, and shits get retarded. It all goes downhill when they introduce an alternate channel thats full of illuminati code with distorted sound and flashing images and a strange masked man “hacks the channel” to upload videos. It jumps the megalodon straight into the unwatchable valley. To date they have somewhere around 70 videos, and I have watched up to about 50, and there are a few great ones scattered here and there. Still, even at its best, it’s just a guy walking through the woods with a camera and every once in a while someone going “boo,” and at its worst it’s poorly acted melodrama with a nonsense story straight out of a fanfiction. For what is literally a fanfiction, it isn’t terrible, and is surprisingly good if you look at it from that perspective, but it is hardly recommendable to a general audience.

The reason I bring this particular channel up instead of the other fan movies or stories is not only because it is the most popular, but it is also an official partner of Slender: The Arrival. The game itself is based on the free unity game Slender: The Eight Pages, and thus the perfect storm of terrible shit that teenagers on the internet love collided, creating a sharknado of mediocrity known as Slender: The Arrival. Ripped apart by a larger audience for the repetitive gameplay and overall juvenile stupidness, it was not terribly well received. But internet shit be a crafty beast, and she not be so easily taken down with demons like the Markiplier and the Pewdiepie breathin’ life into the infernal creature. Similar to 5 Nights at Freddy’s but without the creative twist, this is a game that exists to be fake scared of on Youtube.

So if the previous four paragraphs of derision didn’t tip you off, I do not like the Slenderman cannon. It works as a creepy image or concept, but has been perpetually blundered by an inept internet fanbase. I absolutely hated Slender: The Eight Pages, and that was back when it was free. It has no story, no real gameplay, and was just an excuse to have something that only moved when you weren’t looking at it creep up on you and make your ears bleed. That is fucking horror 101, so universal that Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon made fun of it. Things have been only moving when you don’t look at them in video games since the Boos in Mario, and screaming audio distortion is a cheap way to startle someone. I get that when I am startled, I am technically frightened, but I also tell women I love them when I fuck them and it is just a reaction, not the real thing.

When the original came out, Mr. Dark reviewed the game better than I could, and expressed his grievances in only the way that a fellow veteran enraged nerd could. Read his for the take on the original, since I’m mostly going to talk about how this game expanded on the original.

So the first thing you might notice is that I said that this game is available on the new gen systems and PC, which is wrong if you consider the PS3 and XBox 360 releases. However, this is not those. This is a re-release of the extended Steam version, with new graphics and levels. Its a pretty solid move, since the game already just aped off of the basic concepts of what made horror scary, why not just follow in the footsteps of what all video games are doing now and re-release?

I’m being a bit harsh, since at least this added content. Now, you get to walk through 8 locations while looking for items instead of 5, with a secret level that actually kind of doesn’t blow. It still doesn’t go past the basic concept of “find some shit with a flashlight and spooky things happen,” but lead is still lead and not gold, so it will be some time and magic before shitty meme games become good.

It looks fine I guess, but I’ve never been a terribly good judge of how things look. I can tell when something is gorgeous, sure, but if you were to give me a copy of Half-Life 2 with extended draw distance and dynamic shadows and one without, it would still look to me like a cool shooter whose graphical style complimented the gameplay. Slender: The Arrival goes for a dark and scary woods where a monster is chasing you, and it does it just fine. I’m positive there is some visuals nut out there who can point out every change and shortcoming, but that is not me.

The narrative is a bit more fleshed out in the new levels, adding new endings and a secret level that actually does something interesting. When you access the secret level, its the only thing that you can play. As you progress through the level, you become increasingly trapped, and once so the camera becomes locked. Attempting to access any of the other menus or modes leads right back to this trapped screen. I’m trying to keep free of spoilers, so pardon my lack of exposition, but it is a remarkably interesting and smart move for a game that if were food I would be afraid to feed to my goldfish.

It’s just so hard for me to give a fuck about this game. I am not the target audience. Slenderman is the Johnny the Homicidal Maniac or Invader Zim! of our generation: regardless of objective merit, generally only enjoyed and recommended by “misunderstood alt” teens who haven’t developed enough of a personality yet to define themselves outside of a medium. At the point where weird antisocial youths are killing people for your social media device, you have gone over the rails into teen bullshit.

I am going to refer to the wisdom of my elders heres. Mr. Dark gave the game a 1, with one of his criticisms being that the game looked ugly. The game looks a bit better, so that fixes some of his problems, but doesn’t fix his fundamental issues with the game. The expanded story and secret level makes the game slightly more interesting, so that also raises it a bit in his book. It is still fundamentally the same shit game, so nothing has changed there. I’m not going to say to “avoid this game aggressively,” since there must be teenages out there in need of an excuse to murder people. If you are my family, do not buy this game, since I actually really enjoy Thanksgiving. Oh, and if you are internet scum, please do buy this game. Children will flock to you in droves to give you likes subscribes, and your traffic numbers will nicely round out my castration bucket list.

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