Slenderman is no doubt an icon of internet horror. While the character’s popularity peaked many years ago, his name is still as well known amongst PC users as the likes of Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees. One of the biggest factors to his rise in popularity was that the character was a community effort – starting off as just a blank slate of a monster and evolving into an entirely new beast via thousands of fan fiction. While this definitely kicked off his rise in popularity, everyone can agree that the moment Slenderman became a mainstream sensation was with the launch of Slender: The 8 Pages.
This game had a simple premise, explore a dark forest and collect 8 hidden pages while avoiding Slenderman. This game became popular with Let’s Play videos at the time, and in turn, it became popular with YouTube viewers. The portrayal of Slenderman in that game would become the character’s most iconic version. Obviously, with the game’s massive success others would attempt to ape its mechanics, even spawning horror games with Shrek and SpongeBob. Most were blatant copies and thus lacked any originality, but now we have Slender: The Arrival and it’s now out on Switch.
With a focus on a linear story and ditching the simple formula that made the original so popular, Slender: The Arrival is a very different beast. You’ll be going from level to level exploring abandoned areas and completing the tasks within them. These range from exploring the environment, collecting specific items, or interacting with certain objects. It’s not a walk in the park, however, as you still have Slenderman to worry about! What’s great in this game is that he acts differently depending on the stage. Sometimes he will just creepily watch you from afar, and other times he will try and stalk you. He can even teleport right in front of you for that classic jump scare. Everything seems rather randomized to keep players on their toes.
Another unique aspect of this game is that Slenderman isn’t the only monster you must watch out for. Some levels have extra enemies that you must be wary of. Their goal is to just chase you down and try to kill you. Some are scared of the flashlight you carry and can easily be waved away; others can’t be chased away so you’ll just have to cross your fingers and make a run for it. They are effective at making each scenario more intense, especially when you factor in the dynamic of the level design. Each level is made to make you feel isolated from the outside world, adding to the intensity of the scares to really get your heart racing.
As said before this game has a much bigger focus on story. Other Slenderman games focused more on the creepy gameplay than the actual story, so this was rather new territory. That being said, this game did adapt the storytelling method of previous Slenderman games on a much grander scale. Here the story is conveyed through notes and other objects that you may find while exploring through the levels. There are also VHS tape levels that you can play to experience the story from someone else’s perspective. These tapes and the notes you find throughout the game help you piece together a story that isn’t very clear from the get-go and you will have to connect the dots yourself. That being said, it does feel very rewarding when you finally uncover the story, especially when you begin to notice all of the very subtle story details in the environments that you may not have noticed your first time through.
The horror aspects of Slender: The Arrival can be hit or miss. The game primarily relies on atmospheric horror, which is portrayed well throughout. The levels managed to make me feel isolated from the rest of the world and on alert for enemies. Besides the levels where there are enemies chasing you, a majority of the scares in this game are scripted. Meaning that you aren’t in any real danger for a majority of the time. You may get a jump scare or two, but a lot of them are easily predictable – sort of like when you go into a haunted house. There are very few moments in the game that will get you a game over, and the rest of them are just scares that don’t put you in any real danger.
Despite this game originally releasing over five years ago, it doesn’t really seem outdated. Piecing the story together is rather entertaining and the graphics hold up surprisingly well on the Switch – looking better than some other indie games I’ve played. It runs perfectly on the system with no issues.
If I had to nitpick some negatives, there are only two that I can think of. One is that the game is rather short if you know what you’re doing it can be completed in less than two hours. The second issue is that it doesn’t really have any replay value. It’s good for a first-time experience, and maybe a second playthrough if you want to try and piece together the story. But once you experience all of the scares you already know what to expect from this game. You can unlock a higher difficulty by beating the game, but all that does is make it so that your flashlight can run out of batteries.
Slender: The Arrival probably won’t bring in many new people into the franchise, but it does a solid job of providing a fun experience. If you enjoy exploration walking simulators infused with jump scares and isolated and creepy environments, or just like the Slenderman universe, then you’ll want to check this one out.
Slender: The Arrival Review
- Graphics - 7/107/10
- Sound - 6/106/10
- Gameplay - 8/108/10
- Lasting Appeal - 3/103/10
Final Thoughts: GOOD
Slender: The Arrival is a unique take on the Slenderman story that has stood the test of time. The game feels as fresh as it did six years ago, and it has been perfectly ported to the Switch with no setbacks whatsoever. It’s perfect for a first-time experience – though if you have already played this game then we’re not sure that this game offers enough to warrant another playthrough.