Slender: The Arrival by Blue Isle Studios has made its debut on the Nintendo Switch. There is currently a lack of horror games on the handheld hybrid, so it’s refreshing to see this game make an appearance on the Switch alongside other games like Resident Evil and Outlast. Slender: The Arrival is a game about the fabled Slender Man, who has risen as a prominent horror figure in pop culture alongside MoMo. The game runs smoothly, and the entire Slender experience has been ported over successfully on the Switch, but there are some aspects of the game that don’t work on the go.
The Cam Footage
I had always heard of the Slender Man game made by Parsec Productions via YouTube, as it was a popular game for ‘Let’s Play’ gamers to use as content for their channels. Slender: The Arrival reminds me of Five Nights at Freddy’s in terms of popularity. Both IPs grew in fame because of their online appeal on various social media platforms. I’m somewhat of a horror junkie when it comes to television and film, but never in video games. I would play games like Resident Evil and Devil May Cry, which were horror adjacent, but since the player could fight back, it was never truly scary for me. Slender: The Arrival, on the other hand, did deliver on the scary but fell flat once you pass the original Slender Man: The Eight Pages portion.
The ambiance, the graphics, and the use of the cam footage point-of-view all blend well when you start the game. The day is set around sunset as you explore the house and the surrounding field looking for clues. The farther you go, the darker the night sky becomes, until you finally reach the forest. You are then greeted with an eerie music track that sets the nerve-wracking mood, keeping you on high alert. You come across random snippets of information, such as photos and flyers, to piece together the overall narrative behind Slender Man.
Fear Slender Man’s Instant Transmission!
Eventually, after a small amount of time, you get to the fabled forest level that Slender Man looms in. It is never fully explained, but you need to gather eight pages before Slender Man ends your journey. This level felt exhilarating as the music and the audio design help drive the fear of being hunted. Plus the added shake and distortion of your field of view gave visual cues on where not to go, while also making it difficult to get a bearing on your surroundings. Often times it became difficult or confusing on why Slender Man caught you. I would restart this level several times while also learning the locations of each missing page through multiple playthroughs. This level had sold me on Slender: The Arrival for the Nintendo Switch, but everything afterward felt lacking and repetitive.
The forest level truly felt riveting and set the tone of horror that the player will encounter in the game. While Slender Man himself isn’t a grotesque abomination, the cat and mouse gameplay made up for the lack of visual fidelity you would find in a game like Outlast. So you could understand how disappointing each level after that experience felt, as it became repetitive and frankly less scary. Though, I do appreciate the later levels for telling the overall narrative on how Slender Man came to be and his connection to the Matheson family. The last two-thirds of the game doesn’t match the same level of quality or creativity that its initial offering does.
The Downsides of Fear
I can understand why the developers created additional levels. Slender Man’s forest is creepy and scary but it lacked any contextualizing on why you were there or for what purpose. Exploring the farm and the areas around it gives the player a sense of mystery and I applaud that some of those levels gave you a different perspective. However, they simply recycle the same cat and mouse gameplay but within a linear design. The forest level required memorization, speed, and positioning. These later levels simply become repetitious jaunts of “collect X to open X” and “run away from X”. These levels are not as frightening, and they lack what makes Slender Man special as an ambiguous entity who can manifest in random spots.
There’s another factor of Slender: The Arrival players should be aware of before purchasing. I played this game with headphones on and off at night, and on the go while performing errands. This game simply doesn’t work as a portable experience. And, it is obvious that the levels are simply too dark to see during the daytime. However, I could see a scenario in which you play at night on the go, but that’s asking a lot of the player, and the game feels best played at home. Whether playing with headphones or not, the sound design comes across extremely well but I would still recommend some headphones to maximize the terror.
The Forest From The Trees
The graphics for this game are surprisingly well done except for a few key areas. During the day you can see there is a lack of density when it comes to the foliage. And, shadows are pixelated. Which is strange, because initially that seems to be the case, but later levels seem perfectly fine. In one instance, I was surprised to find a beautiful vista that helps set the next fighting scene, but it was ruined by some ugly shadowy lines. However, in the midst of being chased at night, you hardly notice the minor flaws, and the backgrounds help sell that dark haunting farmland.
Slender: The Arrival is a front-loaded horror game that brings its best at first but quickly devolves in quality. While later levels help expand the narrative and give context to what you’re doing, it becomes painfully mediocre with fewer scares and repetitious gameplay. As a port, it is well done. Everything from the original games is intact, except for a few graphical downgrades during certain areas. I would still recommend this game at least to experience a pop culture phenomenon. But, know that you’re not getting a solid return on your investment. Slender: The Arrival is available now on the Nintendo Switch. Let us know what you think!
Thanks for reading! and don’t forget to check out my interviews with USC Games Chair Danny Bilson, Shades of Magic author V.E. Schwab, and Black Panther’s Quest voice actor James Mathis III. For more great interviews, reviews, editorials, and news stay tuned to CultureOfGaming.com, or check us out on OpenCritic.com.
- THE GOOD
- Slender Man
- Audio Design and Great with Headphones
- THE BAD
- Not Portable
- Mediocre Later Levels
- Ugly Textures
- Terrible Monster Designs Other Than Slender Man
Slender: The Arrival is a horror game based on the pop culture icon known as the Slender Man. Your first encounter with Slender Man is memorable and terrifying but everything else after quickly becomes repetitious and bland. While the game does go into detail on who or why the Slender Man is terrorizing the Matheson family, it simply doesn’t match the same type of quality or creativity from your initial encounter.