Slender: The Arrival PS4 Review
The Slenderman craze kind of came and went with little fanfare, which is a bit of an allegory for the silent stalker himself; Conceptualized in 2009 by a Something Awful forumer, Slender Man became a cult hit across the internet, eventually making his way to several multimedia appearances, including the first videogame Slender: The Eight Pages. But as with all horror icons, the frightening appeal of Slender Man has diminished along with the fanbase as they move onto the latest horror fads (in the case of videogames, that title undoubtedly goes to Five Nights at Freddy’s and its subsequent sequels).
But there is still a chance for Slender Man to continue keeping his fanbase up at night, as we are still awaiting the film adaptation of the popular Marble Hornets web series along with the latest release of Slender: The Eight Pages on PS4 and XB1. For those who had not yet experienced the game on previous gen consoles or its original release on PC, The Arrival is a story-based expansion of Slender: The Eight Pages, a free fan-made game that featured a single area and objective that had players navigate the dark woods to collect eight pages before the titular horror catches up to them. Slender: The Arrival contains that original concept along with several other stages that follow a similar mechanic of “collect stuff, avoid monster”, as players assume the role of Lauren as she attempts to find her missing friend Kate, who disappeared after leaving her house a shambling mess of cryptic notes and maddening scribbles. Since this is a post-Blair Witch world, Lauren must navigate several dark woods, waterways and other dangerous areas with a dimly-lit flashlight and a flimsy camcorder as a certain well-dressed Eldritch horror watches silently in the distance, edging nearer and nearer outside the players’ field of vision.
As a re-release of a 2013 game, the first thing that should be observed in Slender: The Arrival is its presentation. Compared to the PC original, the PS4 version is a disappointing downgrade that suffers from lower-detail textures, occasional pop-in of trees and other distant objects, and a lack of 60 frames per second. While much of the game does take place in the dark, the fact that Blue Isle Studios could not achieve a perfect conversion of the PC version really diminishes the experience as well as the value, since the original can be frequently found on sale at Steam and other digital vendors.
Mechanically, the game controls well enough, though some players may have to tinker with the controller settings as the camera can be overly sensitive. Just like the original, each stage lacks a checkpoint feature, requiring players to collect the necessary items from the beginning should they find themselves face-to-face with Slender Man or any of the other horrors that will end your existence with a single glance. While this may prove frustrating for players wanting to advance in the story, it works best during short bursts of tension-filled sessions. As with the original, the sound design and minimal lighting make up the best elements of Slender, creating an atmosphere that still proves chilling even now. Anyone who owns any of the PS4 surround headphones will especially benefit from constantly looking over their shoulder.
Ultimately, Slender: The Arrival retains the same experience as the previous versions, though it lacks the visual polish of the PC original. The move to PS4 also gives it tougher competition as far as horror games go, especially compared to the superior (and still free) P.T. If you lack a capable PC, this console re-release should suffice, otherwise stick to the cheaper and technically more proficient alternative.