While I would consider myself a person who is not easily scared, several sections of this game had my heart racing. In fact, when I invited some friends over to play this game after I had completed it, they literally looked away from the screen in fear during some sections and flailed their arms during one part in particular (yes, they did actually flail their arms and scream). The reason for these reactions: the mysterious and freaky Slender Man.
The game begins in a beautiful meadow after you crash your car into a tree. You find yourself running toward your friend Kate’s house that you find strangely abandoned, despite the fact that Kate had invited you over to help sell it. When you arrive at the house, you find it deserted, disheveled and covered in strange markings. Something sinister happened to Kate and you proceed from her house into the forest to help her. However, these explorative parts are only half of the gameplay equation. The other half has you running from the titular Slender Man who stalks you in every level of the game. While running, you must find and pick up or activate objects in order to complete a level. In a level called “Into the Abyss,” the difficulty spiked to a frightening level and I finally completed it after a dozen tries. I suspect that many buyers of this game will literally not be able to complete this level because of its horrific difficulty, which cannot be lowered. Throughout each of these levels, there are also additional notes that can be collected to reveal more of the story of what happened to Kate and why the Slender Man is chasing you. One complaint with the gameplay is that doors must be manually opened and the mouse movements are not as easy to perform during a chase as I would like. After completing the five short but difficult levels, you unlock a harder difficulty that I wouldn’t dare try to beat. The aforementioned “Into the Abyss” level is the sole reason for that decision.
The game’s graphics are surprisingly good for an indie game, but are very demanding. Although my machine was able to run it without a hitch, I found several forums complaining about issues with computers that meet the minimum requirements not being able to run the game. The art style is realistic and extremely immersive; I felt like I was exploring my friend’s abandoned house, a deserted national park, and the tunnels of a dark mine. Additionally, the monsters that chase you are well designed and extremely frightening. I found that the one normal human model you do see to be of slightly less quality than the rest of the game, but the modeling is still impressive for an indie game.
The sound in this game is really well done and definitely adds to the horrific situations your character must survive through. Every time the camera experiences static caused by the Slender Man, the white noise sound is perfect and adds to the game’s intensity. The pounding of your heart after you pick up a note or the shriek-like noises in the background make your heart rate increase. In summary, the sound, like most horror games/films, drastically improves the ability of the game to scare you.
Obviously, this game is not for the faint of heart, but beyond that there are several questionable elements in this game. First, Kate is possessed by the Slender Man and is forced to attack you. Additionally, she writes notes that show the Slender Man’s influence over her. Some notes have creepy writing like “I WANT TO DO” scrawled over them. At the very end, a burned man’s corpse can be seen. While I did not notice any cursing in the notes, I did not find all of them as many are well hidden. The game’s entire premise is based on a supernatural entity that continually stalks you and can teleport. While no direct occult activities are shown (i.e. a pentagram), the possessed Kate is obviously obsessed with slender man and makes dozens of notes about him. Lastly, I want to emphasize that this game is trying to scare the player and does an incredibly good job. When the Slender Man catches up to you, you see a dark, shaking version of his face rather than him visually killing you (which is perhaps more frightening). However, when the possessed Kate catches you, it shows her attacking you with her arms and then running away (this attack doesn’t always kill you).
In the end, Slender: the Arrival did a great job of improving upon the scares of the original game by adding more levels, drastically improving the graphics, and employing a greater variety of scare tactics to strike fear in the player. However, this is definitely a game that will scare most players and has a definite possibility of inciting dark thoughts in impressionable gamers. Therefore, I would recommend this game to mature gamers that can accept the questionable content.