Slender: The Arrival, Don't go down to the woods today

Press L2 to run, says Slender: The Arrival, the moment you step into its first level. It quickly becomes apparent that’s advice more than a tutorial because you will be doing a  lot of running. Away from the titular antagonist. Away from a scuttling devil child in an underground mining facility. Away from your own shadow.

Slender is a simple game, but a very effective one. It bottles up those base fears we all have the dark, woods, gangly men in suits and empties them into your face all at once. Typically it’s not the inevitable appearance of Slender Man himself that will make your insides feel like they’re foaming up your throat, but everything preceding it.

Every area has a set number of objectives (turn on six generators, find eight paper clues) and it’s balancing this busy work with keeping track of your faceless stalker that makes the panic bite. It doesn’t help that Blue Isle Studios has cruelly crafted the environment to look like their iconic suited loon the trees are pale and thin with spindly branches clawing at dense murk, shocking white water towers thrust up out of nowhere, and accompanying all of it is a steady, ominous drum beat. He’s coming. He’s coming. He’s coming…

The horror becomes diluted however when you understand how the game works and realise what you’re really up against is an algorithm made all the more obvious by the one-trick, repetitive nature of the gameplay. The Arrival is also incredibly short in length (you can be done in two hours if you’re quick), but it’s sinister, unnerving and full of scream worthy jump scares while it lasts.

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