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Slender: The Arrival Review


Normally when my esteemed editor sends a code for review I am full of joy and skipping at the thought of another JRPG but this one was different, sending me into a cold sweat, my eyesight doing that crazy vertigo effect honed by Hitchcock; for this was not any ordinary code, this was for Slender: The Arrival. The legend of the original Slender game grew just like any classic horror script of the 00's with gamers hearing about Slender: The Eight Pages by word of mouth, friends of friends telling of the dark mysteries in the forest on this free to download PC game. Those experiences I had hoped were locked away in the deep recesses of my mind, but the Slender Man always follows.

In the movies, the found footage genre is often the go to setup for budget horror, studios churning out some really terrible efforts to get cheap thrills from an unsuspecting audience, hoping to cash in on genuine classics like The Blair Witch Project and REC and it turns out this genre is perfect for console gaming, the first person view of the handheld camera an ideal viewpoint for those familiar with shooters and action games. 



Slender: The Arrival is best described as a series of horror "shorts" that you get to experience first hand, almost like walking though one of the scariest house of horrors you can think of. The main story thread involves your character searching for an old friend she has not heard from in a long time, but upon returning to her house things are not right; a tree falling in front of your car, blocking the path and forcing you out on foot and when you do arrive at the house, you are not greeted with a long lost friend but a deserted property that shows clear signs that something bad has happened. Then begins a terrifying search for your friend, uncovering all manner of shocking truths and horrors through your cameras viewfinder as you slowly pick up her trail but you are not alone as something is also following you.

Visually the game is a very dark experience, at times only your torch offering a pin prick of light against the veil of darkness that surrounds, the game only sporadically offering daylight, these moments feeling like you have been suffocated for the 30 min prior and whilst Slender: The Arrival is not going to win visual awards the grainy textures and simplistic level structure lend well to the overall feel of the game, as I see it as more than an experience, the gameplay at times getting in the way of what could have been some pant tearing moments.

Where the game really manages to get the tension to sky high levels is through the sound effects, your heart beating in your throat as some terrifying whispers play all around you, erratic strings playing faster and faster, leaving you at times wishing that whatever it is out there following you to come out and kill you now, but it does not always come, the game teasing with brief glimpses and camera faults constantly keeping you on edge.



Set over a few chapters the game slowly reveals the secrets of the woods as it leads you to the promised safe haven of the radio tower, blinking far away in the distance and whilst the game sets the scene well and is very, very scary it does make a few errors that snaps you back to the reality of playing this in your living-room. The game opens with a short statement about playing it like your own experiences in the wild which I found slightly misleading as the game is actually very linear, letting you open windows but then you can do nothing with this plus the at times annoying requirement to activate or collect certain items before an event occurs; it is a frustrating learning curve as to what the game allows you to get away with. Slender: The Arrival also suffers from a few graphical glitches, be it getting stuck on scenery or just falling through it, ruining all that atmosphere the game created.

Slender: The Arrival is more of an experience of how to scare yourself silly over and over again rather than a survival horror and aside from a few niggling issues I really recommend it, just remember if it gets to scary you can always turn off the console.

Words by Ash Buchanan.

(Version Tested: PS4)

Pros

+ Very atmospheric and scary.

Cons

- Frustrating glitches can spoil the experience.

Edited On 26 Mar, 2015

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