Your hand tightly grips the flashlight. Your palms are beginning to sweat, and you can’t afford to drop it now. Not here. Through the video screen in the camcorder you are holding in your other hand, you see scribbled drawings of HIM on the wall. You shudder, and keep moving. You reach a door. Steeling yourself, you swing it wide open. A long hallway stretches before you, and you allow yourself a small sigh of relief as you enter. Rounding the corner of the hallway, suddenly your camcorder screen fuzzes and fills with static. You gasp, as you see HIM, standing there, framed in the doorway at the end of the hall. He doesn’t move. Heart pounding, you turn around and sprint back down the hallway.
Slender: the Arrival is an expanded game based on Slender: the Eight Pages which in turn is based on The Slender Man urban legend. A tall, man with a white face and no feautures who kidnaps children, this paranormal creature can appear anywhere at will and electronics distort and malfunction in his presence. There is no fighting Slender Man, only escape, if you’re lucky. In Arrival, you play as Lauren visiting her friend Kate’s house after she went missing. You begin to collect clues to her disappearance, and you won’t like what you discover…
Slender: The Arrival was originally broken up into five stages, but the Wii U version I played has nine stages. You will explore creepy dark woods, abandoned houses, condemned mines…places you would avoid normally, but especially if you knew the Slender Man was there. The visual textures are very basic, but the graphics work just great in the context of being in the dark, looking through a camcorder screen, with only a small flashlight to light your way. Sound design is great over all. Footsteps, breathing, trees in the wind, creaking doors, and other similar creepy sounds add to the tension as you search for clues. One issue I ran across was if I was in front of a sound source like a radio or a river, and turned 90 degrees, the sound would become almost muted until I turned again. A minor issue, but distracting. The music is great. Low, discordant, terrifying. When you hear the music, your pulse can’t help but raise, as you know Slender Man is probably near.
I played Arrival on Wii U, and I experimented with several different ways playing the game. I first played with the tablet as controller, looking at my TV, with surround sound. This worked fine, and would be comparable to playing the game on a different console. Next I played using the WiiMote and Nunchucks. While it was fun for a while to point the flashlight with the WiiMote, my arm got tired after a while. Lastly, I kept the surround sound on, turned the TV off, and played in the dark looking in the tablet screen. This is the best way to play in my opinion. Viewing the game on a small screen in the dark enhances the illusion of seeing everything through a small camcorder screen, and the low resolution textures aren’t as noticeable. Although you could plug in headphones to the Wii U tablet, I preferred leaving surround sound on for a more immersive experience.
Let’s get this out of the way. The objective in every stage of Slender: the Arrival is very repetitive. In every stage, you are looking for 6-8 things (clues, letters, doors and windows, generators, etc.) before Slender Man catches you. However, hunting for those items is necessary to force you to explore scary areas you would probably avoid. Boiled down to its essence, this game is about exploring scary places while Something terrifying hunts you. The items you are searching for, and even major landmarks in the level randomly move and change places if you die and have to restart a level. This randomness adds to the nightmare feeling of the game, and keeps each playthrough of a level feeling fresh instead of a layout of steps you can memorize. The downside of this randomness is the frustration the player can feel retracing their steps, trying to find the last object as Slender Man closes is. This frustration is especially pronounced in the Into the Abyss level, where Slender Man is joined by a minion, the Proxy, who chases you much more aggressively.
Slender: The Arrival will take you places you are terrified to go, and get your heart racing as you try to escape the Slender Man. As a budget priced title on Wii U, I can recommend Slender: The Arrival as a great survival horror game to play on Halloween, or any time you want to feel that delicious feeling of fear creeping down your spine.
This game is NOT recommended for anyone afraid of the dark.
Slender: The Arrival was developed by Blue Isle Studios and is available on for Wii U on Nintendo eShop for $9.99 The game is also available on Windows, OS X, Steam, Xbox One and PS4
A copy was provided by Blue Isle Studios for this review. You can hear me discuss this and other games on the Plug and Play weekly podcast.