Slender: The Arrival Preview

Last year, Slender: The Eight Pages struck fear into the heart of many a gamer. A homage to the internet-born Slender Man mythos, this indie survival horror was short, simple and surprisingly scary. So scary, in fact, that it went viral and spawned numerous reaction videos and spin-off titles. Just a few months after its release, creator Mark Hadley had already announced a sequel – and now, that sequel has landed.

Collaboratively developed by Parsec Productions and Blue Isle Studios, Slender: The Arrival is set to be even more frightening than its predecessor. The game’s official website says it “takes the best elements from the original…while expanding and improving every single aspect”, and after playing the beta edition, I would have to agree.

Atmosphere played a huge part in The Eight Pages. As a character without identity, thrown headfirst into a wooded area at night, there was no reprieve from that terrible isolation. Your only goal was to collect eight pieces of paper scattered around the forest, but progress was quickly marred by the appearance of an eerie paranormal figure. The more pages you collected, the more frequent Slender Man’s visits became, and players soon learned that stopping or turning around meant facing the faceless.

The Arrival‘s beta works on the same premise, despite mention of a proper storyline – perhaps a way of allowing point-by-point comparison with the original before the full game is released. In any case, the second game comes up trumps.

The updated Slender Man model is more true to form – and twice as menacing

The most striking difference is the quality of the graphics. Where The Eight Pages was murky and minimal, The Arrival is refreshingly detailed: trees sway in the wind, moonlight plays off the surface of a nearby lake, and the beam from your torch appears to catch even the finest of dust motes. Another notable improvement is Slender Man himself, who has transformed from a stiff, clay-like model into a well-rendered embodiment of the terrifying online legend. Great attention has clearly been paid to capturing his essence; not only is he more shapely, but he is also equipped with those trademark tentacle appendages…and I could swear he keeps getting taller this time round.

In addition to the impressive visuals, there are many small details which make this game a more immersive experience overall. On my first play, I started next to a lakeside cabin with a notice board pinned to its side (another welcome introduction: randomised spawning points). When I left-clicked the board, it enlarged to reveal a list of rules for local canoeing – a wonderfully effective touch. The item was then placed into my ‘scrapbook,’ and although I doubted its usefulness (could I beat Slender Man over the head with it?) I was pleasantly surprised by the familiar inventory mechanic. It made it much easier to envision a storyline for the full version of the game, when certain items might help with plot progression. 

Another clever effect is the screen’s resemblance to that of a video camera, with battery life displayed in the top left, a zoom bar in the centre, and a timer in the top right, effectively displaying your hours – or minutes, depending on your bravery and skill – of play. (This is probably a nod to the many Slender Man ARGs on YouTube, in particular the pioneering MarbleHornets; the latter’s creators actually joined forces with Hadley in writing The Arrival‘s storyline.) This same screen also sways with sickening believability when you sprint, and fills with static whenever Slender Man is in your line of vision…which happens a lot, by the way.

At one point, a potted plant – not unlike the one to the left of this picture – made me jump out of my skin. It was not my proudest moment.

As a sleeker, scarier revamp of last year’s phenomenon with the promise of “much more to do this time around,” Slender: The Arrival is sure to draw an even broader audience in to Slender Man’s nightmarish world. 


Slender: The Arrival is due for PC release on March 26th – but you can pre-order the game now to get instant beta access. Share your experiences with us in the comment box below!

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