The Return Of Everyone's Favourite Pale Businessman
To understand why Slender: The Arrival is such a disappointing let down, you have to grasp why The Eight Pages was such a success. Slender: The Eight Pages took off in popularity because like a slew of well made horror games it put loads into the atmosphere, made your player character feel useless, made your environment confusing and spooky and finally it didn't throw jump-scares in your face. The music was fantastic, a low rumble and a thunderous clang of something metallic drills dread into you as you stumble around this maze of a forest looking for pages before you're devoured by Slenderman. It's brief, it's premise and difficulty keeps you coming back for more and it changes with each play through so whilst the experience is the same, you can't memorise it and walk through it easily. Whilst the game was mostly used to make youtubers scream and give kids the euphoric rush of a horror game, it delivered a few genuine scares for what a basic set up it was.
Slender The Arrival doesn't seem to be able to recreate what made the original scary, but it's everything from frustrating design to general incompetence that ruins it. The game opens in a house and you wander about doing things on a checklist and the same low rumbling sound that inflicts dread in the forest in the Eight Pages is present here, but for some unknown reason the second you walk out the front door it just ceases abruptly, which intrigued me, so I walked back in and the rumble started up again. It only occurred to me how much the atmosphere relied on this particular piece of the sound design as I stepped backwards and forwards over the front doors threshold, turning it on and off. Seeing how easily the atmosphere was removed felt like I'd accidentally pulled the game apart. Then there was a slenderman shaped entity rising above the hillside that loomed over the house and the valley it was in, clearly meant to intimidate me, but he stood there for so long that it became awkward, so I moved closer, zoomed in and then out of nowhere he just vanished, which wasn't spooky and it was just anticlimactic.
Soon the game starts repeating itself, asking you to gather pages and this is where the disappointing gameplay starts to weasel it's way in. It's like they wanted to make a full game but had nothing to make a full game on, so instead of doing anything new it makes you replay Slender: The Eight Pages over and over again with different locations and items to find, gently buffered by walking around a bit. It's not like there aren't ANY additions, but I wouldn't call all of them good. Early on you're introduced to a masked man which I remembered being portrayed in the Marble Hornets youtube series and since his introduction was pretty cool, I found it nice to see him in the game, but it turns out he's a total pain in the butt. On top of you having to run around in the dark, going on a treasure hunt for whatever item the story requires with slenderman stalking you, you've got this guy running right up to you and grabbing you or a quick and cheap jumpscare. They can both converge and the masked man can attack you and hold you in place and then Slenderman will kill you because you can't move. Again I don't find the masked man to be scary, what made the eight pages so nerve wracking was the fact you didn't know where slenderman was going to appear next, but masked man you can hear coming a mile off.
What's more disappointing is how the gameplay of finding things has not changed at all either, it's still randomised and without the atmosphere and dread it's just tedious, adding the masked man just increases the likelihood of death which resets the locations of the things you're after and the environment is so vast and boring to explore that it's thoroughly un-enjoyable to play through once, let alone 3 or so times.
There's some minor variety when it comes back to the house and the farmhouse sections where they change it up a little and things get a little spooky, but by that point it's already rehashed the first game 3 times and it's a bit hard to say a redeeming factor of the game comes after 2 hours of boring and frustrating gameplay.
It's a shame they didn't try and do anything really different with this game, technically it's got flaws, in design it has flaws and they didn't fix or improve on much either. Shame.