Search for your friend and flee the Slender Man in an expanded adventure.
PC Release: September 24, 2014
By Ian Coppock
Imagine, if you will, a universe in which video games are released in a completed state. The concept has been rendered rarer than gold dust these days, as more and more developers release a portion of the game for $60, and then dole out the rest of it in pricey chunks (I’m looking at you, Destiny).
Usually this an accusation I hurl Phoenix Wright-style at the Triple-A world, but the original release of Slender: The Arrival proved that even our darling indie underdogs can succumb to grievous under-delivery. After witnessing the server-crashing success of Slender: The Eight Pages, indie dev Blue Isle Studios, well-meaning but inundated by the opiate of profit, released Slender: The Arrival, a game not much less skeletal than that gentleman up in the title card. The Arrival proved that indie developers are also susceptible to slipping up on releasing a full game, but I’m pleased to announce that they recently released the rest of the game! Or did they? Let’s find out.
Slender: The Arrival was originally released on March 26, 2013 for PC, and as I reported in my original review, the game wasn’t all that impressive. It was poorly optimized, could be beaten in about half an hour, and featured identical, repetitive gameplay. Find eight pages, or eight generators, or eight close-able windows, or eight corners to cry in for when Slendy shows up.
Ultimately, the game fell short of its potential, but Blue Isle’s recent re-release of the game features a plethora of new content, including updated visuals, new collectibles and several new levels. You even get to play as new characters in certain portions of the story.
As in the original game, the story sets off with Lauren, the player character, dropping by a secluded house in the woods to visit her dear friend Kate. A few troubling discoveries at the house and a bloody murder scream from the forest sends Lauren off on a terrifying journey against a grim adversary: the Slender Man. For those of you who hide from the Internet in primitive caves, the Slender Man is a gaunt, faceless creature that slowly kills you the longer you look at him. Why he torments the people he does and what his goals are are unknown.
What you soon find out is that he’s very interested in Kate… and you.
Lauren is a silent protagonist, so there’s not much character development to be had with her. Slender: The Arrival takes a much more active stance of showing, not telling, in this update. You find more items and pieces of the story scattered about the environment. Everything from an old family photo to a child’s drawing of a burning house fills in gaps of the story. Blue Isle was much more proactive about this approach with the new version of this game, and it pays off well, weaving more and better exposition into the game world.
These tidbits of story are what develop the other characters in this grisly tale. Kate’s increasingly disturbing drawings and the notebook pages she nails to trees paint a ghastly portrait of insanity, while letters left behind by her friend, the mysterious CR, detail a man’s desperate attempts to fight this menace.
Whereas the game’s original release focused solely on Lauren and left too many questions unanswered, the update adds new levels and characters to flesh out the narrative. In addition to our heroine, you also get to play as Charlie, a little boy who disappeared under mysterious circumstances years ago.
You also play as CR himself, and spend some time following his own investigation of the Slender Man. Both of these new subplots feature longer levels with badly needed changes in gameplay, focused more on puzzles and confronting enemies than pure exploration.
As you may have inferred, the update also features a new enemy, one whose presence in the plot both deepens the story and fills out the tragedy that is the Slender Man universe. With these updates the game felt substantially closer to the Marble Hornets Youtube videos, which feature three filmmakers’ battles against the Slender Man. They were involved with this game from the beginning, so maybe they had more say in the update.
Just watch out. You will scream.
The game’s updates expand beyond new content. Some nice tweaks were made to the existing levels and their mechanics. Opening doors can now be done with a click instead of clumsily pointing and dragging, so now it feels like opening a door instead of opening a door you are glued to.
Movement controls have been refined, the game’s been optimized to run at a consistently smooth framerate, and the game finally got fitted with proper lighting and shadowing effects. It makes for a gorgeous piece.
Although I have nothing but glowing praise for this update, I must once again reiterate that this new version of Slender: The Arrival should have been the version that was first released over a year ago. I get needing to make an update here or there, but the original game was shunted out deformed and unfinished for what I presume was a crack at a hungry audience. Show your fans a little respect by making a full game. They’ll thank you for the wait. But, I can thank Blue Isle for this update, and can now say that Slender: The Arrival is a fully realized version of that little forest terror that came out two years ago. Get it. It’s now worth the money for any horror fan.
Before we get to the next review tomorrow, if you’re interested in getting into the Slender Man universe a bit more, I highly recommend checking out that Marble Hornets series I mentioned. It’s a found footage-style series that actually established a lot of the lore and recurring themes in this mythos. It recently wrapped up after about four or five seasons, and what awesome seasons they were.
You can buy Slender: The Arrival here.
Thank you for reading! My next review will be posted in a few days. You can follow Art as Games on Twitter @IanLayneCoppock, or friend me at username Art as Games on Steam. Feel free to leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with a game that you’d like to see reviewed, though bear in mind that I only review PC games.