Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Sour Crouch's Super Fantastic Indie Horror Roundup Super Slam...Thing - Slender: The Arrival

Words: Sour Crouch

It strikes me, in my infinite wisdom, that I, the eponymous Sour Crouch, have not done that which I set out to do. That is to say, I have not yet written anything about horror games!

So, to remedy this I give you...

SOUR CROUCH'S SUPER FANTASTIC INDIE HORROR ROUNDUP SUPER SLAM....THING - Part 1

Super.

Anyway, you may be wondering where I have been over the past few days/months/years of your life. The answer I give is usually the same - "Behind you...in your garden...oh you have one of those fake rocks too! My thanks, that'll make things easier!"

Slasher movie opening jokes aside, I've just been busy. That's not to say that I haven't had some form of time allocated for gaming, and I've most certainly been keeping myself abreast with all the goings on in the "scene".

The game I'd like to talk about today is Blue Isle Studios' unforgettable Slender: The Arrival.

I'd like to point out that at the time of playing I owned the vanilla version, bought and paid for it on day of release and completed it within the first week of it being out. Sufficed to say I haven't revisited it yet, nor have I played any of the updated content...and to put it bluntly, I refuse to pay for the game again on Steam because...well, just because. So I've missed out on the "Steam-Exclusive" content too (Note: I would recommend everyone who hasn't bought it yet to buy the Steam version). So in a roundabout way I'm just saying "I was there first, before all you cunts jumped on the bandwagon and made it mainstream."

Anyone who knows how to Internet will hopefully at least know who and what Slenderman is, and may at some point in their lives have played or watched someone play the original Slender: The Eight Pages. It was one of those crazes that only came around once in a blue moon. In fact the buzz around it reminded me of the yo-yo craze, or those swinging goo ball things, the ones that were banned for killing too many children...Now that I think about it, every craze we've had has had some form of detrimental affect on kids. Anyone remember being beaten for your Charizard? No? Just me?!

Slenderman is something that is now so ingrained in Internet culture that Slender will most likely be the de facto mascot of all creepypasta for years. The original game places you in the shoes of an unknown protagonist who is dumped in the forest with a torch and a goal: Collect the Eight Pages. You guide the character around this forest as they pant, run and evade all the while being chased by "Slenderman". The refreshing gameplay and extremely steep learning curve meant players would return for more and more, even in the full knowledge that they would die even if they managed the hard task of collecting the pages. In my eyes it was the test of a man, the "man who catch fly can accomplish anything" moment. If I could complete Slender, then I too could accomplish...anything.

Slender: The Arrival was this...And SO much more. With the new title came updated visuals, an actual narrative and some new, creepier monsters.

THAT FUCKING GHOST CHILD!

Slender: The Arrival had some good things going for it, all right. 5 levels stocked full of easter eggs, hidden notes that further developed the story and a ton of scares, so many that I look back and wonder how I managed to complete the damn thing. For me the standout moments of the game are levels 3 and 4. Level 3 will either make you or break you. The set up is simple enough. You're trapped in an underground warehouse that you need to escape from, Slender is out there...BUT...something else is too. To escape safely you have to turn on several generators which are scattered about the level randomly, These generators power an elevator - your ticket out of dodge. Sounds good right?

Nope.
Nope. Nope. Nope.

You see, the thing that's chasing you is relentless. Not the drink, the concept. It chases you for the entire level and doesn't let up. The only way to defend yourself from this beastrel is to direct your torch beam lance of light destruction machine at it and hope to whoever you pray to that it goes away. If you don't pray to someone, you will...I think I shit myself at least once playing through this part. It's devilish, probably mildly sadistic but baby...it's worth your time.

Level 4 is the opposite to 3 in every way. It builds on something that the original game didn't have - atmosphere, or rather a more cerebral one than we've been accustomed to so far. See, dread is all well and good. It works for both games. But Level 4 gives us this incredible sense of unease. The mission this time is to...*cough* close all of the windows in the house. That's it. This is a flashback moment so you, in theory, haven't seen Slenderman yet. You don't know why you have to close these windows but there is a general sense of fear, that something is coming for you. I don't know whether it was the stormy weather, fantastic sound direction or something that tapped into my childhood fears of being alone in a house, feeling that something is coming for you but man...this is a shitter. The entry fee (£6.99 at time of publication) is worth it just for this level alone.

Slender: The Arrival doesn't get off scot-free though. When I played it vanilla it was buggy. VERY buggy. They've since done a slew of updates which I am sure have rectified the bugs I had experienced but nevertheless...I'd be lying if I said it didn't hamper the experience a little. The other common thing I've heard is this, and for reference it infuriates me. "Is that it?!"

IS THAT IT?!

From a game that lasted on average 15 minutes a playthrough (if you were half decent) to a game that lasts 5-6 hours, I think Blue Isle have done a bang-up job. Seriously, you can't stretch a simple chase mechanic over a 20-hour game. You'd get bored pretty fast.

The other levels whilst not being as notable as the aforementioned are still rather dishy and serve to tie the whole game up as a great 5-6 hour boredom crusher. So if you haven't already purchased Slender: The Arrival, I suggest that you do. Make it so. Go on. I've told you to now. Do it.

If you like the sound of Slender: The Arrival, why not buy it on Steam?

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