Gamersledge Video Review: Slender: The Arrival Beta
Click play above if you’d like to skip the written review.
Slenderman started as a meme in 2009. You can read all about it here, it is basically a new urban myth about a featureless-faced alien in a suit and tie with multiple elongating arms that may or may not abduct children. If you look at him long enough, you go insane.
In June of 2012, Mark Hadley posted a game to the internet using the unity engine called Slender and eventually Slender: The 8 pages.
The game was simple and effective. You are lost in a forest, and there are 8 hand-drawn pages (that look like they were drawn by children) that you must find and collect, before Slender Man finds you.
Hadley has stated that this was an experiment, and his experiment exploded across the internet.
Now, teaming with Blue Isle Studios, Slender: The Awakening has entered its beta phase. For individuals who preorder the game, you receive access to the beta, which is the graphical redux of Slender: The 8 pages.
Slender: The Arrival beta features first-person shooter mechanics, without any guns. You have a flashlight (which could run out in the 8 pages version, but I have yet to see do that in the Arrival Beta). No map, no bearings. You start in a different place each time. There are set pieces that are in different places each time. There are 8 pages, and they are in different locations each time. The goal is to collect all 8 pages before Slender Man finds you. It sounds easy. It is not.
There is no run button; there is no health meter. All you have is your perception and the electrical glitches that will occur when Slender Man is near you (you are looking through a videocamera, which is how you know he’s near).
It’s dark. It’s foreboding. It’s genuinely scary in a way few things I’ve ever encountered have been.
It’s minimalistic approach is what builds for pure anticipation and horror around every corner.
There isn’t one. No backstory. No agenda. Just you trying to collect these pages and running for your life. And that, I feel, is more terrifying than having a full backstory. The full version of the game does promise a full story mode, so we may learn more about Slender Man, but I hope this ‘beta’ version of the game remains a separate mode, all brilliant in its tiny little horrifying package.
This is where the game shines the most. No, it doesn’t have Crysis 3 graphics that will make your processor weep. It’s got a decent-enough graphics engine, but what’s important is you can only see where your flashlight is. The sound is the true winner here. From the first time you activate Slender Man (he’s got a grace period/is inactive until you pick up the first page), the simple sound design is geared to do one thing: Build. and build. and build. From a cricket chirping, to your heart pounding in your ears, the sound sets the stage for terror. One of the other people in the office would scream at a tree, because it looked vaguely enough like Slender Man that she thought it was really him. She also commented that “The soundtrack is what gave me nightmares.”
Look, I’ve never been that person who gets scared at movies. Not for the ‘jump’ factor, nor the psychological thrillers. But this has done it. It’s made it to where I truly feel apprehension. I KNOW that piece of paper is in this building somewhere. But is HE? Do I want to risk it? Can I run away fast enough? Is there more than one entrance/exit to this room?
All these things race through your mind as you try to navigate your surroundings. Where is everyone? Why is he chasing you. I love not knowing. The graphics, sound and design approach build a perfect package of horror we have rarely seen in videogames.