Game Review: “Slender: The Arrival”

  I have been taking full-advantage of the PlayStation Network’s Holiday Sale, and while I initially thought it was an absolute steal when I found Slender: The Arrival available for less than ten bucks, I walk away from the whole experience feeling ripped off. 

    I think that a lot of video-game players already know the basic premise for what Slender is, but for those that are unaware, I’ll offer a short summary: Slender Man is a fictional supernatural character that originated as an internet meme when it was created by Something Awful forums user Eric Knudsen in 2009. The character is something of a phenomenon because of the folklore-like approach that has been taken to him. That is, while there are common aspects about it, the character has never really been confined to a single narrative but often varies through disparate fiction that has been composed online. The character took off and became immensely popular to the extent that a video-game was made for him called Slender: The Eight Pages. A lot of critics and gamers praised The Eight Pages for its minimalist approach, its novelty, and predominant focus on horror elements. 

    I was really excited to play Slender: The Arrival because I found that the concept of the character itself was very unique and something that I appreciated to see come into fruition over time. The character as a video-game character represented something that I have always wanted from a horror experience. I’ve always loved slasher films, and horror films that focus primarily on one supernatural antagonist, and I appreciated the presence of his character. Unfortunately, there’s a novelty to the character that inevitably runs its course with a lack of innovation or complexity added in. A minimalist approach can only succeed when other variables are willing to compliment it and make it work. 

    Slender: The Arrival is a video game developed by Blue Isle Studios and was released on Microsoft Windows and OS X on March 26, 2013. Similar in a lot of ways to Outlast, this video-game isn’t the type that I would usually expect to find available on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360, but it was eventually added to them as well in late September. 

    There isn’t a whole lot to the storyline at all, and in-fact, that’s where some of my criticisms start about this whole experience. This isn’t a minimalist approach when it comes to the plot, but in-fact, a matter of incoherence. The storyline doesn’t really have anything to say at all whatsoever, and yet, from looking at it, I could’ve been fooled. I think it’d be more fitting to say that the story itself doesn’t contribute anything worthwhile to the experience. The reason for this is because everything that it has to say, it either grazes over with a single-sheet of paper or completely struggles to find others ways to get its message across. In The Arrival, the player takes control of someone named Lauren as she is visiting her friend Kate’s house after she evidently went missing. From there, the whole experience is mostly dedicated to her trying to find out what has happened to her friend and come in contact with various creatures.

    Like I said, nothing comes across very well, but there’s another factor that’s worth acknowledging. I finished the entire campaign in less than two hours. While you can justify this whichever way you want, or say that it’s an independent experience working with a tight budget, but the fact is, there are so many titles out-there that can say the same and offer more bang for a buck. I don’t think it’s justified, because at the very least, they could’ve added a few random maps or additions to make it more worth the price. I bought this on sale and I feel as though I was cheated by at least a couple of dollars, so I can’t imagine what it must have been like to pay the full-price and find this waiting for me. 

    If there is anything about it that makes it feel even worse, like adding insult to injury, it’s that the game-play itself doesn’t vary enough to warrant its own existence. Everything drags and feels completely repetitive, and not only that, but I feel as though half of my time was spent merely trying to figure out where I was supposed to go. I honestly feel like they had the means for the first level of the video-game, decided to spread it as thin as possible, and then, called it Slender: The Arrival. 

    I’ll be the first to admit that I never really understood the novelty behind Slender as a video-game character. The idea seems doomed to be grotesquely repetitive, considering that all he has to offer is jump-scares, but I was hoping that there would be more to it besides that. But there isn’t, and all that there is to show for the experience is very little game-play and an experience that isn’t the least bit scary. 

    In an effort to not come off as a complete pessimist, I will say that the visual efforts and the sounds were nicely done. In-fact, if I would just have taken a look at it, I would have thought to myself that it was something a lot more than what I know it to be now. I feel like it looks like it could’ve been good, but it was never finished. As if to say, this feels like something somebody might pitch a game publisher to show them what it could be and its potential if they were given the time and backing to create it. 

    Sadly, that isn’t what it is, and Slender: The Arrival feels like a badly thrown together experience with a broken story, repetitive mechanics, and a whole lot of disappointment. 

    Thanks for reading…

Rating: – 1.0 out of 5.0