Published on October 1st, 2014 | by Erri1
Slender – The Arrival on Xbox360
Like many others I have seen a handful of YouTube videos and twitch streams of Slenderman, but I have never played it myself. As a console player at heart, when I heard Slenderman was coming to the Xbox360 I jumped at the chance to give it a go myself.
You start next to your crashed car (way to go dumbass) in the late afternoon, camcorder in hand. Controls are basic: you can walk, crouch and run by pushing in left stick, LT or X. I guess these multiple run options will come in handy when ol’ slendy comes for a hug and you button mash to get away. Getting around the game is a lot more user friendly than I expected. Paths lead you to where you need to go and if you see a structure, chances are it is where you need to go next. Walking down the first path leads to a house of a friend. The place is a mess and on further investigation you find some pretty weird stuff like a pot of what looks like baked beans in the sink. What a waste! After a while you hear a scream in the distance. What do you do? Run into the dark forest with only a flashlight that’s what!
A new area is opened to you to explore with the help of your trusty flashlight and camcorder. The aim for this level is to collect eight pages of kindergarten level art. With each page collected encounters with Slenderman increase. Slender – The Arrival aims to scare with sensory deprivation and building sense of urgency and nervousness. The few lights that you do find crudely light the area, creating more shadows if anything. Nowhere feels safe with inside areas making you feel like you will be imminently trapped and while exploring outside Slenderman seems to appear from all sides.
In 30 minutes I found all eight pages in one attempt and extremely enjoyed the stage. It did have me panicked in parts as I was repeatedly trapped by Slendy and forced to run off the path and into the forest. While the graphics of this game are not the best, I found the game created such an atmosphere that I was so drawn in I didn’t notice.
I do not want to go into too much story detail as part of the experience this game provides is the constant uncertainty of what is coming next. The next level is of a similar design in a different setting, with a couple of new twists to keep it fresh. Without giving much away, you are inside this time and lighting again is minimal. What got me here was the sound of my own footsteps – they were so loud and made me feel exposed. Running was even worse so I was constantly paranoid that Slenderman and any other creepies knew exactly where I was all the time. This level was again pretty short at 15 minutes for a complete run through on my first attempt.
At the beginning of the third level the story ramps up big time. More questions are raised and the player is transported to a different time and area, with control of a different character. Play style is switched up a bit with basic puzzles introduced. There is no flashlight here so I did feel pretty helpless when I found myself stuck in a warren of narrow hallways with extremely unreliable lighting that left you standing still in the dark.
However I found my love for this game came to an abrupt halt when I came across a bug. At this point I had to pick up an item, which would trigger a creature opening a door that was once locked and coming into the room. I took an opportunity to run past it and after a few seconds of running the screen would freeze with just audio running. After reloading the game I did the level again, took the same course of action, and came across the same bug. Darn. I decided to give it another go and try to walk – not run – in a different direction after I made it through the door. Going through the level again was a big drag. The only highlight of playing it again for the third time was finding that items that you need to pick up spawned in different areas. When I came to the same point I tried my different tactic and got the same bug as before. This was disappointing as the game was really enjoyable until this point. Taking a break from the game, I had a look online at a walkthrough for the level to see if there was a different approach to the area. It appears the game wanted you to run around the room, through a hallway, back to the room and through the door in a way that the creature chased you instead of running past it. I gave this a go on my fourth attempt on the level and it worked. If the game didn’t want me to run through the door straight up maybe they should have made it so I automatically died. It seemed to me like the obvious thing to do and I almost walked away from the game at this point with the assumption that it was broken. I continued on but the mood of the game wasn’t there for me anymore. I understand that this level is one of the new ones introduced with Slender – The Arrival and perhaps it just hasn’t been as thoroughly tested as the first two.
Another different setting, character and play style is introduced with the next area and I can see that it will be another very quick level but my heart was not into it. Slenderman is now a cult classic and the two original levels were amazing to play through for the first time. The mood is nicely created and although the graphics are not of the same standard as games released today, you can still very much lose yourself in this game. It is a shame that I came across the bug and maybe my experience was unique, regardless it put up a major block and killed the atmosphere it had set so well.
Summary: For horror lovers on the Xbox360 I would recommend buying this game if you see it on sale. It did give me a fun evening of thrills but I could not recommend it to others for the price of $13.45. It is quite short and replay value is low. I give Slender - The Arrival 3.5 stars out of 5, the score being lowered from 4 due to my experience with the bug.