Slender Man, Der Schlanker Mann or even the Schlankwald as I like to call him, was something I joked about many a time after seeing various bits of nonsense across the internet about him and an ever growing group of morons declaring he was real and dangerous. The initial release Slender: The Eight Pages became a bit of hit for all the wrong reasons, countless YouTubers uploading recordings of themselves screaming and talking trash as they tried to survive a playthrough without being scared to death. When I was growing up we had Candyman and Italian Zombie movies to corrupt our minds, games weren’t scary back then and anything that could have been scary was shat onto the screen and lost in translation. There’s been so much written online about Slenderman, his origins and his ability to terrorise people that I was more than happy to give Slender: the Arrival a playthrough.
The game is played in third-person with a video camera overlay permanently onscreen, beginning as you wonder along a path in a generic forest in failing light, looking quite like the outdoors areas in Half-Life 2, something that feels very ‘Blair Witch’. As a distant building becomes noticeable, the sun begins to set and on entering the house it becomes dark. Once inside I begin to look for any items that may be useful and find the first couple of notes that I add to my scrapbook, there are scribblings on the walls and as I continue to search I find a torch and I switch it on. I find a note suggesting I look for Kate in the house and continue my search for more clues. Outside I find a letter written for Kate, so l should really look for Kate then, okay.
As I wonder through the woods I see something, a generator, which I proceed to switch on. As it powers up some floodlights I glance up to the skyline and as I turn, I’m sure I’ve just seen Slenderman, I look up again to confirm my fear and he’s staring down at me. Just a dark silhouette on the horizon, but it’s strangely creepy and he looks huge, eight to ten foot maybe.
I continue to wonder through the woods, finding a few more clues, switching on another of the generators and wondering around I catch a glimpse of him once or twice more. I’ll usually spot him when turning, but even then it’s very brief, and when I look round to confirm what I saw he’s gone. The sound work in the game really adds to the atmosphere and I’m surprised at how creeped out I’ve become. As I creep around hoping I can delay meeting up with him close up, a strange distortion begins to affect my video camera’s viewfinder and my controller starts vibrating like it’s going to shake itself apart or explode in my hand. I assume he’s behind me, I swing back and the vibrations calm down, cool he’s gone. I swing back around and boom! He’s fifteen metres in front of me, I only see one way to get past him, the path to the left, but I need to walk towards him slightly to get to it. As I walk towards him the controller is going tits again and the audio sounds truly disgusting, it’s like I’m listening to an underwater volcano erupting whilst being forced to listen to a remix of NASA’s deep space audio recordings, it’s awful.
Eventually the sound decreases and goes back to background noise and I continue to wander thought he woods, I’m actually feeling stressed out and anxious, I can’t explain it just a feeling of dread. So I push to the next building and search for more clues, all the while my run-ins with Slenderman become more frequent and more violent, that’s about it for me.
I’m not going to say any more about the game, there’s not too much more to it, so I would like to at least leave some meat on the bone in regards to the plot. Slender: the Arrival wasn’t something I would normally play or even think I would of enjoyed, it was good for what it is and if you’ve got a spare hour or two I’d recommend its worth trying at least once, if it doesn’t scare you or you think its shit don’t blame me, I screamed while playing Condemned back in 2005.