Many developers have been going darker with the tones of stories lately. It's time we stop asking definitively if this is a good or bad thing and consider the artistic value at hand.
Slender: The Arrival Review: Slender 1.5 Not 2.0
The original Slender game, The Eight Pages, was a breath of fresh air for the horror genre. While other games in the genre decided to stray too close to the action side, Slender stayed rooted to the basics of horror: atmosphere and tension. There are no different types of enemies, you know someone is coming for you sooner or later and you don’t really know who (or what) they are. Creators of The Eight Pages, Parsec Productions have teamed up with Blue Isle studios to release a follow-up, Slender: The Arrival. Is this $10 game worth your time?
The game’s premise is simple, you find yourself in an area after your car breaks down and you manage to get yourself to a relative’s house. But she is not there and you are experiencing hallucinations of a tall man in a suit. What follows is your character tracking down what happened to the relative through messages and notes scattered around the environments. There is no need to actually find these and build up the story though, this is purely for replay value and or for personal interest. The person’s whereabouts are explained through an interesting level (I won’t ruin it for you) but it did seem rushed slightly and didn’t live up to the production values of the rest of the game.
Arrival features five levels which basically feature different areas with certain tasks. The first level for example sees your character exploring the house for clues, finding a flashlight for example. The second level is the level that was released as the beta, the re imagining of The Eight Pages with better graphics and new areas. For more about that specific part point your browser here. The game no longer ends when you get the eighth page, pushing you onto a new destination. There is no variation in gameplay though, find ‘x’ number of generators or close ‘x’ number of windows. It feels like the developers wanted the same feeling as the original but in different settings. The problem is, other indie developers have done better Slender environments that the ones featured here. While it is an improvement on the length of the original game, the five levels do not last long, especially if you have played a lot of Slender games before. Another point is that the new enemies that were promised were not all that I hoped for but at $10 though, I cannot really complain that much.
One thing that stands out to you when you start the game for the first time is the graphical improvements. The trees are detailed, the sun shines through the foliage and onto the ground and the screen disorientation that occurs when Slender is near adds to the tension and makes you jump even when you don’t see the eponymous bad guy. If you feel that the upgraded graphics will ruin the simplicity found in the original, try the new version, it adds to the experience and immerses you further into the character’s plight. The character model for Slender is much improved and watching him slowly and calmly walk towards you (rather than stand aimlessly still) can make even the most fearless person start to worry.
This game’s high point is its genius sound design. Walking through the more open areas which look deserted and then hearing quiet footsteps or rustling of leaves behind you tempts you to make sure you are alone. Sometimes screams fill your ears from a distance or recordings play their messages, all sound like they would fit in with this genre. The soundtrack features creepy piano music, bells and strings that wouldn’t be out of place in a Hollywood horror film. In the first level there is even a radio which, if turned on, blasts out some of that old music that you find in many horror films which adds to the tension. Seeing as the beginning of the game is completely new, the game builds your uncertainty up which contrasts to the familiarity of the second level.
The game really succeeds at revamping the original level (which is still amazing after the twentieth time) and working on the already established ideas but the lack of varied gameplay and incredibly linear areas with nothing happening detract from the fun of this game. The ending of the game leaves much to be desired but the game already has a planned sequel so maybe that explains it. For $10 though, the game is a good purchase if you are interested in the Slender back story or were obsessed with the last game. It isn’t a good buy if you were expecting large areas and anything new.