I’m a fan of horror films, although I don’t tend to watch too many of them due to no one else in my house really enjoying them. From time to time I’ll jump into a survival horror game and more often than not they tend to have a much more profound effect on me than simply watching a horror movie does. I had a chance to check out the latest survival horror port to the Xbox One (and PlayStation 4) and here’s my Slender: The Arrival review.
The game is based on the infamous fictional Slender Man character which was originally created back in 2009. Traditionally Slender Man is a tall thin character with long tentacle-like arms who targets children and young adults. Slender: The Arrival is a sequel to Parsec Productions’ 2012 Slender: The Eight Pages. In the sequel, you play as Lauren, a young lady on her way to visit her friend Kate. Upon arriving at Kate’s house, Lauren finds it empty but filled with scrawled messages on the walls and notes lying about.
Of course all this happens at night, and upon reaching Kate’s room a scream can be heard outside in the direction of the back of the yard. You quickly (conveniently?) find a flashlight and proceed outdoors in order to track down the source of the scream (assumed to be your friend Kate) and you are led through a series of chapters which take you through various abandoned areas searching for evidence of Kate’s location.
I’ve watched many YouTube videos of people being recorded playing survival horror games, and I always get a good chuckle out of them – after all, they can’t be THAT bad. I don’t know if it’s my setup (playing in the basement on a large projector screen) or the fact that I decide to turn the lights way down when playing, but one or both these factors definitely add to the feeling of dread throughout the game.
When the game launches, you are greeted with a message:
Approach this game with an open mind. Make use of your own personal relatable experiences and memories of desolation in the wild.
You’re on your own, and your survival is up to you.
I’ve camped a lot in my time, and as a result have been out in the woods – sometimes miles from the nearest road – in the middle of the night, sometimes quiet, sometimes filled with unknown noises that cause uneasiness. Reading this message almost immediately brought up some of these feelings and it was with a bit of hesitation that I pressed the continue button.
Once I found the flashlight and left the house, the sense of dread started to creep in as I passed through the gate in the back of the yard. The Interface has a toggle-able video camera frame which I chose to leave on, and for the most part it’s very dark aside from the flashlight beam in the middle of the screen. I started to proceed through the field and follow the path around back, and I vividly remember the first time I caught a glimpse of Slender Man. It was one of those, wait-did-I-really-just-see-that moments where he was barely visible off in the distance.
A short time later my video camera started glitching out and distorting while making weird noises… I started to back away but it only got worse… turned around and was face to face with Slender Man. I have to admit, I jumped.
Walking through forests at night and abandoned buildings in the dark definitely builds up the apprehension, and there were times I could feel my skin crawl as I slowly and cautiously made my way around before being startled by Slender Man or something else and turning and hightailing it, blindly running in the opposite direction as fast as I could.
While the graphics aren’t anything to write home about on a purely next-gen console level, the environment is quite well done and the odd time you happen to be outside during the day the graphics are pretty decent.
When in the dark, or outside at night, there’s less to see but the use of the flashlight and lighting is also well done and there’s no denying that the graphics go hand in hand with the story to make for a more horrifying experience.
There’s no denying that sound design is a huge factor in survival horror games. Slender: The Arrival is no exception and the sound in the game is extremely well done. Coupled with the atmosphere portrayed in the graphic style, the sound effects here only serve to further enhance the feelings of uncertainty and dread as you play through the game. There is nothing like stopping only to hear footsteps close by… footsteps that you know aren’t yours because you’ve stopped walking. It’s more than enough to raise the hairs on your neck and get you back on the move – hopefully in the opposite direction.
I’ll admit I’ve yet to make it all the way through Slender: The Arrival, I know it’s just a game but between the atmosphere mixed with the Slender Man lore, sound effects, and the way the game plays it’s definitely one of the better survival horror games that I’ve played. It’s not often that feelings of dread and a tightness in my chest happen while playing a game, but I felt my skin crawl and jumped more than a couple times while playing this. If you’ve got a nice quiet, dark place to play you can’t beat the $10 price tag for a few hours of good old fashioned survival horror. Maybe I’ll drum up the courage to finish it this weekend…
***We were sent a review copy of Slender: The Arrival for Xbox One for the purposes of this review.
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