Slender: The Arrival makes every effort to demonstrate that it is a full-fledged version of the game in the shape of a horror game, complete with a strange narrative and a good audiovisual backdrop. In reality, the only thing that remains of the original Slender is the dread that accompanies our acts, which is rapidly replaced by bursts of laughter and fury. This game should remain a free experiment, because paying the same price for a mid-tier horror game as two movie tickets is an exaggeration.
At every point, The Arrival invokes connections with an ordinary “B” horror picture. We learn about the beginning of the narrative through static drawings and captions that are designed to convey an aspect of terror, coupled with the ominous soundtrack, but ultimately appear to be quotations ripped out of P. Coelho’s prose. We take on the character of a young lady searching for her companion Kasia. We get out of the car, stroll down the forest path, arrive at our friend’s abandoned house, and it’s suddenly darkness, despite the fact that the sun was practically at its maximum only a second before. Another “surprise” – a flashlight is found on the first kitchen countertop. Both house phones are broken, and we see bizarre notes and sketches on the walls and shelves, which are evidence of our friend’s hallucinations. We hear a scream outside the window, and it’s Kasia! We peer through the shutter, and it’s Slender! Disappears. And there’s an open gate behind him that was just closed with three triggers. The scriptwriters have excelled themselves – I haven’t seen so many tired techniques in a long time.
We see the events of the game via the eyes of the heroine, who has a camera welded to her eye. I’m joking, but we nearly always look at the world via the camera’s viewfinder, because our heroine has a digital eye on the globe in one hand for some reason. Fortunately, this aids us in locating the enigmatic man. Later in the game, we discover further “surprising” evidence concerning Katarzyna’s abduction and acquire the now-famous eight pages of notes. We make our way through the forest, public restrooms, vehicle wrecks, a tent, an observation tower, and empty containers, much as in the original Slender. Naturally, everything is black, and from afar, we can only hear the sounds of a tall Slender with a white face, who wants to capture us at all means and perhaps murder us, but this has not been stated anywhere.
Yes, the persistent darkness, wading through ankle-deep fog, passing through farmlands, forests, and eventually abandoned houses might be frightening. Music made by a fan of scratching the school board with his fingernail, rusty swings, and damaged door hinges add to the effect. The graphics have also been greatly enhanced over the original, making us feel exceedingly uneasy in a very realistic Slender hell. However, this is only an early effect, influencing primarily our imagination and perfidious use of traditional, efficient horror movie methods. Slender arrives unexpectedly next to us, in front of us, behind us, between the trees, or near the location we like to visit. Disturbing music sounds over the speakers as soon as the white-faced man emerges, and the camera image shakes and blurs. Of course, we’ll only see Slender’s face and the phrases “try again” or “leave” when we collapse into his arms.
The difficulty level may be tough not only for newcomers but even for lovers of the original. While collecting the legendary eight pages, the mystery figure comes more frequently and closer to us with each succeeding page picked up – to the point where reaching the eighth page is sometimes a miracle. This is not only irritating, but it also damages the game’s mood. We’ll stop paying attention to Slender after approximately an hour of playing. We will jump out of our seats, but we will chuckle reflexively, and then feel agitated, since Slender rapidly transforms from a scary apparition into a downright intrusive salesperson popping on the screen at the frequency of a strobe light. The visuals appear to be excellent-rate at first sight. Light reflections and ambient features have been meticulously constructed, and the blurring of the vision during uncomfortable interactions or escape highlights the gravity and misery of the scenario wonderfully. Close inspection reveals that the structures and things are clumsy. Some shine too unnaturally, while others appear to have been developed for a game published a decade ago. Furthermore, the shadows, particularly those of the actors, are a few hazy pixels on a cross, and the bathroom mirrors are… matte, with no one reflected in them. The developers’ ignorance and laziness is especially irritating since such a contradicting visual ruins the ability to completely immerse oneself in the action and experience the game’s mood.
Fortunately, the whole endeavor isn’t only about locating a few sheets of paper, and Slender isn’t the only one who will terrify us throughout a two- or three-hour frantic investigation of the environment. The concept for Slender: The Arrival was admirable, but the execution was lacking. It’s preferable to remain with the original, free Slender, because the king of horrors’ new garments only terrify people with one thing. Unfortunately, there is a cost.