Slender: The Arrival Beta Impressions — Much Prettier Terror
A Few New Bells and Whistles
The primary change to The Arrival from the original Slender: It’s gorgeous. Like Haunt before it, The Arrival’s updated graphics and textures really bring the experience forward. Instead of wandering around smooth, plastic-looking trees and in and out of buildings that are little more than a strange arrangement of corridors with nothing inside them, The Arrival feels like a full-fledged world, complete with real structures and elements that add realism to the experience.
Probably the most notable of the new elements were the structures into which players could wander in search of notes. By far the scariest locale from the original Slender was a building made up completely of sharp corners and tight corridors, the textures and tiling of which suggested it was a park bathroom building. The thing was basically a series of blind corners and long hallways, and after searching through it, I invariably seemed to emerge and greet my death whenever I tried to leave. Finding the Slenderman in the interiors could be frightening, but more so was the lack of information about the world just beyond the building — knowing he was out there and that, in here, there was nowhere to run.
Interiors in The Arrival are impressive. The game includes full buildings that can be entered and exited in the beta, and those interiors are large and often dense with objects. What’s more, they offer no safety from the pursuit of Slenderman, but create the same kind of tense situations seen in The Eight Pages and titles like Slenderman’s Shadow, facilitated by blind corners and tight spaces. Venturing into them is a necessity, but you can feel that you’re giving up the safety of the open park outside and the ability to flee.
New visual effects also add a lot to the experience. Static clouding the player’s vision was part of the original Eight Pages build, but the addition of more of the story from “Marble Hornets,” one assumes, has added a head’s-up display to the game more akin to looking at the game world through a video camera. That camera reacts to the presence of Slenderman much more readily than in the original version of the game, and gives players a tip when the enemy draws near, as the screen starts to flicker and contort. Of course, the major trouble is that, while players get a warning that Slenderman is nearby, they lose the ability to really see where they’re headed. It’s an element that hews closer to the “Marble Hornets” fiction while also adding its own gameplay and fear-inducing elements.
The content and experience of playing the beta for Slender: The Arrival might be pretty similar to what many have already experienced in Slender: The Eight Pages, but the new presentation, assets and gameplay mechanics bode very well for the more extended title that Blue Isle and Parsec Productions are creating. We’re still waiting to see what kind of story and action the full version of The Arrival will inject into the formula, but at least from a visual and gameplay standpoint, the title seems to be off to a good start.