The Slenderman myth is a strange internet rabbit hole; but it’s a great one to go down if you are inquisitive.
Starting as a meme in 2009, the image of a tall man in a black suit was placed in old pictures surrounding children or in woods. Soon people thought it was real and tragically it resulted in a teenage murder. There are documentaries about the whole thing if you do find yourself investigating. But there are also films, fan art, and of course games that cover the Slenderman.
One of the first was a short PC experience. And then it became Slender: The Arrival. Now we have a new polished version, fully optimised for Xbox Series X|S, with an extra new chapter in tow. Here we go again.
There are two parts to Slender: The Arrival on Xbox Series X|S. First is the original Slender: The Arrival game from ten years ago; just now with additional tweaks and upgrades. But there is also a new chapter in the franchise to play – Nightmare.
The original game of The Arrival was an extended version of Slender: The Eight Pages. In this new version you are put in the shoes of Lauren who is armed with a video recorder and – at the start of the game – is found looking for her friend Kate at a house in the country. She finds strange clues of something terrible that has happened, leading into the outside area. A strange figure watches from the hillside…
The storytelling is good here with the detail being told visually, pushed through things you see and discover along the way. It doesn’t feel as complete as a lot of horror games in terms of narrative, but there is a lot to like.
When it comes to the new chapter – Nightmare – the same can be said. This is a very short linear journey of someone trying to escape a medical institution while being hunted by the Slenderman. I think I might have preferred a more structured narrative overall but I liked the locations that build the story, especially in the original game.
The gameplay starts as an exploration horror experience, where you are only armed with a video camera. In the first person, you can move around the areas, picking up and examining objects. In terms of story beats nothing much has changed from the original game and after the first chapter, you then are placed into several areas where you have to collect things, or run a number of objectives. These are randomly generated each time so you can’t just study the map and find these locations.
At the same time, you start to take in your tasks. The Slenderman or his acolytes will be stalking you as well. And the more tasks you do, the greater the encounter that will happen. If the Slenderman gets you then you are dead and start again.
Your view of Slender: The Arrival will probably be dictated by this gameplay. Personally, I loved the exploration and horror elements of the game, but the main game mechanic does start to tire rather quickly. The new chapter is a much leaner, shorter, and more solid affair, as you move from one area to another, trying to escape.
Visually, Slender: The Arrival on Xbox Series X|S has had a big upgrade. There is some brilliant lighting and shadows and everything looks sharper than before; as you’d expect. The audio has had an upgrade as well, with every creak and noise ensuring you’ll be found jumping as you play; amplified when playing with headphones.
If you are yet to play a Slenderman game but are a fan of all things horror, Slender: The Arrival on Xbox Series X|S is the version to step into. Perhaps the gameplay loop doesn’t hold up like it did originally, but it’s still nice to be able to go back to see how things have been enhanced. I would love to see what can be done with this franchise in the future because there is so much potential with the man and myth; potential that The Arrival manages to establish.
But for now Slender: The Arrival is worth your time in the dark.