Review: Slender: The Arrival (PS4)

slender-the-arrival-review-banner

Title: Slender: The Arrival
Format: PlayStation Network Download (1.3 GB)
Release Date: March 24, 2015
Publisher: Blue Isle Studios
Developer: Blue Isle Studios, Parsec Productions
Original MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: T
Slender: The Arrival is also available on PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Wii U, PC, and Mac.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Slender: The Arrival is a jump scare simulator that is small on story but big on the scares. You play a young women named Lauren who is searching for her missing sister Kate and in your search you soon find yourself being stalked by the mythical Slender Man. That pretty much sums up the entire story as it is a simple tale with some effective scares.

Gameplay is simple because your goal through most levels is to collect some objects or to turn on some objects like a generator. In the first level your goal is to collect eight pages that detail Kate’s state of mind before her disappearance. In the next level you are in the coal mine turning on generators to power an elevator. As an added twist, items are randomly placed around the the level so if you hit a fail state you have to collect the items again and their placement will be different.

While you are collecting and exploring the game the danger of Slender Man is always present and you have no defense against him. Slender Man appears out of nowhere and teleports randomly becoming more aggressive as you make progress in the game. The other foe you come across is the girl in the hood who, unlike Slender, has a small bit of weakness which is light. Using your flashlight you can focus it on her which will force her to leave you for the time being. Their spontaneity works well for a horror title but as the game progresses it can become very cumbersome as you can be closing in on finishing a section only for them to slow you down and annoy you to the point that their scare factor turns to frustration.

SlenderScreenshot07SlenderScreenshot09

The mechanics are light which does not make for a fun game but in terms of tension and pure horror Slender: The Arrival nails that aspect. The randomness of the items and enemies help establish a constant feeling of being uneasy due to the fact that they can hit you at any point. This feels more like an “experience” than it does a game. The mechanics make it simple and easy for anyone to play but do not really stretch out for a fun game.

Visuals:
This is the best looking Slender game out there and it looks great on the PlayStation 4. The lighting effects are beautiful and because of the critical nature of your trusty flashlight you notice the importance of light in this game. The technical aspects are fine as it did not suffer from any frame rate issues in my playthrough. I did notice the occasional pop-in from the background as I ran swiftly through the world which did take me out of the moment a couple of times.

As for character design Slender Man up close is not a very intimidating monster but the effects around him are what make him scary. When he is close by, the game’s camera is hit with various visual effects like distortion which are used as visual cues to tell you that danger is near. They are also a good way of preventing you from getting a good look at the tall man in the slim fitting suit.

SlenderScreenshot06SlenderScreenshot05 (1)

Audio:
Tension comes not only from the visual presentation, but also from the sound design. Environmental sounds cause all sorts of jump scare reactions. Random footsteps or the rustling of leaves come through and help force the player to react quickly and help build for a more frightening time. There is not much more to say when it comes to the sound design as there is no huge score or catchy song used. The game relies on just a solid sound design to make for a scary experience.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single player only.

Conclusion:
Slender: The Arrival is tough to score due to it succeeding in the horror department but stumbling as a game. I get genuine fear and anxiety while playing because of the random nature of Slender Man and that is a huge plus for a horror game. But where Slender: The Arrival falters is in what it has you do to make it a game. Running around can only keep you entertained for so long before you become bored and the random nature of it can make the scare factor feel cheap. Overall it’s a short experience on top of everything so it hurts that even while being a one to three hour game it sometimes feels like a drag.

If you are looking for something to freak people out, but know they will have trouble grasping complex game mechanics, than Slender: The Arrival fills that role. Most of the fear without frustration comes from the earlier portion of the game and is possibly the game at its best. Unfortunately there is not much fun to be had after that.

Score:
6.0

* All screenshots used in this review were provided by the publisher.

Written by Michael Cwick

Michael Cwick

Just a nerd from the Windy City. I’m actually really bad at describing myself because I get all self-critical and self-conscious. Follow me on Twitter, @The1stMJC, to see my borderline insane rants on tv shows and other non important subjects. If I’m not tweeting I’m probably just watching Buffy or Firefly for the millionth time.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook