Slender: The Arrival (Video Game)


Slender the ArrivalAvailable for PlayStation 3 (reviewed), Xbox 360, PC

Rated M for Mature

Developed by Blue Isle Studios

Oh, Slenderman, you creepypasta tweener psycho killer inspiring snappy dresser, you.

I was around when Slenderman first showed up on various forums. Fell in love with him immediately. The Internet crowd-sourced a brand new boogeyman in front of my eyes. Created by Eric Knudson, Slenderman took on a life of his own as others started creating images, stories, and even games using his image. The now-classic ‘Marble Hornets’ and the associated ‘totheark’ Youtube accounts popped up, creating an episodic found footage show about Slendy and his exploits. The whole thing was clever, fresh, and scary as hell.

So why does this, the first game officially signed off on by creator Knudson, suck just so damn hard?

Make no mistake, this isn’t just a misstep. This is an aggressively bad game. There’s not one aspect that stands up to any scrutiny. This game bashes you in the gnards again and again with just how painfully awful it is.

The sounds fade in and out drastically as you approach or leave them. Fires crackle if you’re within five feet… but you’re in the cone of silence if you stray from there.

The graphics look like an early build of Half Life 2’s Source engine. 2D grass/weeds, horrible pixelation and lack of detail, lighting effects that barely exist… it’s just horrible for a 2014 title. And that light… you spend most of the game wandering around with a flashlight with a beam that provides absolute illumination within its beam but zero ambient light. ALL lights in the game do this… a lamp in a room casts a spotlight and zero ambient lighting.

A giant spotlight in a clearing provides perfect light within the cone it shines, and zero outside it, even though that’s what it’s designed to do. It makes no sense, unless your lighting engine was designed by drunken howler monkeys with dyslexia. In 1996. Mirrors are silver (matte) panels on the wall. Even Duke Nukem had working mirrors.

And then we come to the game. I can forgive poor technical aspects if a game is fun or a story is engaging. Play The Last Door or Lone Survivor and you’ll see what I mean. But this, oh man.

You play… someone… who is going to see your… well, a lady who lives in a house in a forest. You have a video camera and you’re shooting all the time. You find her house in a shambles and evidence something was stalking her. Before long, you’re in the woods of a park behind her house and you’re… well… doing… things.

At no point in this game did I have any idea what I was doing, why I was doing it, who I was, or why I shouldn’t just walk back to my car and drive home. And I’m videotaping everything. For no reason. It commits one of the deadly sins of found footage movies, and it isn’t even a found footage movie. It can’t even manage to keep its suck within its own genre.

In the first sequence the game told me to collect pages. It wouldn’t let me see what’s on the pages. It didn’t tell me why I needed them. But doggone it, I had to stumble around in ugly woods with only my flashlight for light, looking for those pages. Get too close to Slenderman, your camera wigs out, and you die. Or not.

See, the first time I hit him, game over, would I like to retry? The second time, I inexplicably passed out and went on to the next scene. I didn’t get all the pages. I have no idea what happened. I guess Slendy is a creature of mercy, allowing me to move on without the pages so I wouldn’t have to suffer the horrors of those tree textures.

The next scene, I’m at a mine trying to turn on the generators to get an elevator to take me down. I have no idea why. Hey, I just blacked out and woke up the next day outside a mine, let’s go in! Sure!

There are six generators. This elevator apparently needs enough juice to power Cincinnati. These generators are hidden around the pitch-black facility. Because, you know, that’s what you do with emergency generators. There’s another critter chasing me now as well as Slenderman. I have to “focus” my flashlight to blind it. How I do that with a flashlight is beyond me. It blinds the beast for like 2 seconds. Inevitably it grabs me, slaps me around a little then runs away. Okay. Sure. This happens over and over. If I were in Vegas instead of a mining facility, I’d expect it to try and shove coupons for strip clubs in my hands.

I run into Slendy again and again and finally decide I’m a grown man in my 40’s and they can’t make me play this thing anymore.

Why am I videotaping everything? No clue. I understand keeping secrets, but this game hates exposition. You find emails, printed out and left hanging all over this nature preserve (why not) that tell you nothing, but they can’t explain who your character is and why you seem obsessed with videotaping everything? Screw this game.

One other thing I have to mention. You run into various ephemera while wandering lost. Completely useless bits of paper and signs you can view from the main menu, because I know I love reading random warning signs for mining camps from games I hate. One is a list of rules for a canoe shop. It includes the line, and I am not making this up: “Do not interact with any and all marine life.”

Oh, honey.

It’s a horrible cash-in on a nice horror concept. It rips off Alan Wake to the point that I’d recommend Remedy sue them.

Avoid this game like the plague. Go buy Outlast and Alan Wake. Outlast is the same game style done absolutely right and will have you crapping your tighty whiteys. Alan Wake has brilliant technical design and strong storytelling, everything this game lacks, with many of the same basic concepts: wandering a forest with a flashlight, using light to wound your enemies, trying to discover a story, etc.

For now, we can only hope someone like Telltale gets ahold of the Slenderman license and does something truly scary. Or hell, give it to Red Barrels, the Outlast people. They’ll do it right. This game just does everything wrong, over and over and over.

Game Features

  • Single player
  • A perfect mess
  • Game
User Rating 3.07 (14 votes)


Sign up for The Harbinger a Dread Central Newsletter