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Slender the Arrival review: A short and terrifying game for Xbox One, 360, and Windows

Slender Man (or Slendy, as his friends call him) was created by a forum poster in 2009, according to Wikipedia. A blurry, faceless man added to old photographs, the character soon caught the imagination of online horror fans of all ages. YouTube videos and several indie games followed, most notably a free downloadable title called Slender: The Eight Pages.

That game would serve as the inspiration for its much larger sequel Slender: The Arrival from Canadian developer Blue Isle Studios. This one casts players as several severely screwed people who are being stalked by the sinister Slender Man and his minions. Slender: The Arrival has just arrived on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, after launching on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Windows in 2013 and 2014.

Slender might just be the scariest game I've played. Read on for more details and to witness me freaking out in our exciting hands-on video!

The road to Slender

As the game begins, Lauren arrives at Oakside Park, an isolated suburban subdivision where her friend Kate lives. A tree mysteriously falls onto her car, forcing her to get out and walk along the dirt road to Kate's house.

You start playing just outside of Lauren's broken car, without having actually witnessed the accident. Slender conveys a surprising amount of information without the traditional cinematics or in-game animations that you'd see in a larger-budget game.

Upon entering Kate's house, players will soon realize that something has gone wrong. The door is open, and much of the place is in disarray. This portion of the game sees Lauren exploring the house and searching for clues to Kate's whereabouts. The sense of dread here is palpable, with ominous music and perhaps a few glimpses of someone you don't want to run into.

Eventually, Lauren has nowhere else to go but the path behind the house, which leads to a delightful scare and the end of the Prologue.

The Eight Pages

Slender: The Arrival is a relatively short game broken up into nine chapters, two of which are the Prologue and Genesis, an epilogue/prequel chapter. Individual chapters can be replayed at will after reaching them.

Several of the chapters differ slightly in play style, but the first one 'The Eight Pages' sets the tone for the game and how things will unfold. Lauren finds herself alone in Oakside Park at night. She carries only her camcorder (through which we witness most of the game) and a flashlight. The flashlight provides a minimal amount of light – this is one oppressively dark game, and turning up the brightness won't help.

During this first chapter, Lauren must collect eight pages scattered throughout the area in order to progress. The game doesn't tell you so. You just have to fumble around and figure things out, if you're not using a guide or reading my review like all the smart people do. The location of the pages is random, but they can only appear in ten different places. If you explore the park thoroughly enough, you'll find them and move on.

If you survive, that is. During this first level, Señor Slender takes notice of Lauren's presence and begins to chase her. Jefe is not bound by many of our reality's laws. He can disappear and reappear closer to you, even when you're looking at him. Your camera will freak out and distort as long as he remains close by; you can't even pause during these encounters.

Running is the one and the only way to deal with Slender Man. Unfortunately, Lauren's stamina will run out and slow her down after a short while. Sometimes she just gets unlucky, Slender appearing too close to escape. When he catches her, you have to restart the chapter from scratch. The lack of checkpoints ratchets up the tension because you really want to get away from him, so you don't have to look for those pages again.

More chapters of horror

Chapter 2: Into the Abyss proves the most challenging in the game. Lauren's search takes her to an abandoned mine. There she must activate eight generators in order to power an elevator and escape. The challenge increases because she is pursued by not only Slander Men but also the first of his minions, a freakish and violent girl. This chapter will require several attempts before you can succeed.

Subsequent chapters ditch the "find eight objects" objective, thankfully, and prove less stressful, as a result. Players will step out of Lauren's shoes briefly to experience the perspectives of a young boy, another one of Kate's friends, and even Kate herself. These levels mostly involve exploring and completing smaller objectives, plus a fair deal of running from Slender and a new minion.

Throughout the dread-filled adventure, you'll find a vast number of collectible letters and documents. Yes, it has become a horror game cliché to fill in the story via collectibles. But this form of storytelling fits well with the game's low budget nature.

You only get the tiniest glimpses and hints of story during actual gameplay. Yet should you find enough of Slender's 50 collectibles, the overall story and the fate of each character becomes clear. The high-quality writing really casts the game's events and participants in a new light.

A bogus bonus chapter

The final chapter, 'Genesis' unlocks when you complete the main game. A remake of the original freeware Slender game, 'Genesis' sees Kate searching for eight pages in a park. The page searching is the least enjoyable mechanic in the main game, but I guess 'Genesis' needed to be included for posterity.

However, despite the smaller map and only 10 possible page locations, I could only find six pages during my four attempts at the level. Plenty of people watched me play on Twitch can attest to this; we checked every location and the last two pages weren't there. To make things even more frustrating, Slender becomes unavoidably fast as this particular level goes on. It's not scary or fun, just annoying.

Is it possible to find all eight pages on Xbox One? Let us know if you pull it off!

Achievements

The Xbox One version of Slender boasts the same 20 Achievements as its 360 predecessor, this time worth a total of 1,000 Gamerscore. Many are fun, optional goals such as playing all of the songs on a radio and playing a tune on a piano.

On my first playthrough, I found 47 of the 50 collectibles. Figuring out which ones you're missing proves difficult, because the game doesn't number them in a logical way and I haven't found a list online that matches the weird numbering. You probably want to use this video-based guide to pick them up.

Be sure to play on Normal (not Easy) during your first run so you get the Achievement for beating the game. The hardest Achievements will be beating the game on Hardcore difficulty and three speedrun Achievements.

Beware the Slender Man (and Xbox One specifics)

Don't expect much in the way of improvements for the Xbox One version of Slender. The game still looks aggressively low budget, with low resolution textures and glaringly low-polygon models for characters and enemies. Slender can't hold a candle to its ID@Xbox horror competitor Outlast in those departments. The sound design, omnipresent darkness, and challenging gameplay provide the scares here, not the visuals.

It will probably take anywhere between 3-5 hours to beat Slender the first time through, with additional plays in store for Achievement hunters. The short length and chapter-based nature actually fit the game well. I don't know about you, but I can only take so much tension and dread before I need a break. Also, in these days of $15-20 downloadable titles, the $9.99 price ends up being quite fair for a game of Slender's scale.

Slender: The Arrival's exploration-based gameplay and complete inability to fight back against pursuers won't appeal to everybody. Slender runs with the themes and concepts of found footage horror movies and Japanese movies like The Ring and The Grudge. That helplessness and fear won't be for everybody, but it scared me really nicely.

Note: During launch week on Xbox One, Xbox Live Gold members can get Slender for $6.99.

  • Slender: The Arrival – Xbox One – 1.4 GB – $9.99 – Xbox Link (opens in new tab)
  • Slender: The Arrival – Xbox 360 – 620 MB – $9.99 – Xbox Link (opens in new tab)
  • Slender: The Arrival – Windows and Mac – $9.99 – Steam Link

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

35 Comments
  • The quick startle at slenderman showing up in in you face was priceless. (it got me too).  lol
  • Played Slender the eight pages but never got scared thought I got frightened because it's concept and just that, The arrival seems like a nice one. You all should give a try to 'Among the sleep'.
  • When can we have Xbox achievement in Windows desktop?
  • Why adults would choose to perpetuate the image and culture of an evil character who has been associated with children murdering children is a question requiring answer. This is disgusting and irresponsible.
  • Because we live in a free society and freedom means being exposed to things you do not like, or find offensive. Also, it was attempted murder, not murder. Regardless, society should not bend to the whims of dumb kids doing copycat crimes.
  • You really shouldn't advocate for censorship just because some dumb kids did a dumb thing. Think of how much art, whether it's games or movies or books, we'd have to get rid of if we reacted that way to random crimes.
  • Hey Paul missed your screaming =P
  • He didn't actually scream.  It caught him by surprise but he quickly recovered into smooth gamer mode again. Watching that break from smooth to startle to smooth again was worth the price of admission.  lol
  • Please do not write Windows when it's Steam. I'm confused then because I see Windows apps as downloadable from Windows store. Thanks.
  • I'd prefer to see "Steam" rather than "Windows" if it's not a game in the Windows store (Or both where it's available in both) just for clarity. I'll definitely consider buying more games like this when/if they are available to buy once across Windows 10 - Looking forward to that even if the games cost a little more when it happens
  • Well, hopefully dumb kids don't go and try to make this game real life like they did the original in Waukesha, WI last summer where two girls brutally stabbed their friend for Slender Man... Messed up kids...
  • Can't protect the world from stupid people. Look at what people do in the name of religion.
  • You said it!
  • A friendly tip is to not being in your own opinion on religion on a news site such as this. While I can live with it, it has something to do with professionalism.
  • We're not expressing opinions on religion. Just the crimes that people commit for religious reasons. Hopefully you don't condone that type of crime.
  • I don't. However, I don't agree that he didn't express his opinion on religion, as by writing such things you're really just saying that one thinks tellin is bad. My opinion, and while I understand that you might disagree I believe religion is too sensitive of a topic to be brought up, especially by one of the writers on this page.
  • There are a plethora of religions, and he's not referring to a specific one.
  • Terrorism has no religion.
  • Agreed, but to be fair, also look at what people have done in the name of no religion.
  • You actually affirmed the point... Stupid people will be stupid.  Stupidity has no bias.
  • My point was to clarify that attrocities aren't committed just in the name of religion. Horrible things have been inflicted on humanity by non-religious/anti-religious people as well.
  • Of course. But many are committed for religious reasons, however those people may be misunderstanding or perverting their own religions. You can speak out against one type of crime without also mentioning all the other crimes that happen. It's not like, "Hey, don't speak out about tax fraud because people steal things all the time." The original point was that people commit crimes for various reasons, but we don't usually ban or censor the things that inspired them to commit those crimes when they don't inspire most other people to do the same.
  • I am concerned of my generation... Some kids (and people) are really dumb...
  • Seems like a good deal at 10 but better at that gold launch price. Haven't played many horror games recently, might try it out watching you play it though not sure I'd do too well in comparison. I remember playing fatal frame, the last horror game I played, that one I couldn't play long was a lot younger though, they need to remake that one.
  • Nintendo is making a new Fatal Frame, no idea if it will make it to the US.  The trailer looks awesome.  And the Wii U gamepad for it?  Can't think of a better use.
  • Nice one Paul, enjoyed reading it. :)
    Do wish that the game was actually on Windows (i.e the store, not Steam) but well, "Acedia: Indie Horror" does compensate for it. Played it yet? It's certainly good if you enjoyed Slender.
  • Now they should do a survival horror game based on The Russian Sleep Experiment. While they're at it, people on Creepy Pasta should learn to protect their intellectual property.
  • This particular game was made with the support of the Slender Man creator and the YouTube video creators who popularized the character.
  • GIF creators at the ready!!! Go. I enjoyed the spookiness of the game, I didn't quite work out what the battery bar had to do with things.. shame the last pages were too ellusive, I bet the achievement hunters will get a tut up soon. I'm buying this.
  • I did some looking last night, and people were saying in YouTube guide comments that the One version (not sure on the others) had a real problem of not spawning all of the pages (one stating it was often 6-7). So, it sounds like it's a hit-or-miss problem, but you're screwed by Slender again because you won't know if it's bugged until it's too late.
  • I didn't care for the game myself, but I'm just not crazy about horror titles. It didn't seem to offer much replay value, instead striking me as one of those games where its value lies more in the reactions of others (PAUL) than the game itself. The price, especially the launch one, isn't bad for a quick jolt of terror and a few hours of collectible hunting. Good review, thought maybe a little too revealing for interested parties, since so many mentions of such a short game were put forth. It's always disappointing when a game comes with bugs that make it unbeatable, so hopefully it gets patched. The streams were quite fun to watch regardless, and hopefulyl we get a few more horror games to put Paul on a pacemaker for the sake of our entertainment.
  • I peed my pants just reading the article.
  • Didn't know about the Gold price. $10 was already less than I thought they'd sell it for. Might have to buy this week to support them plus the review males the game sound more fun than I thought it would be. Was expecting find eight item objectives every level.
  • I was very bored watching this stream. I find this game is not scary, just tedious. This isn't a knock against Paul, but I was so bored by this game I left to do other things, not even the conversation or antics of my fellow viewers could keep my interest over such a boring game.
  • Looks fun. I might pick it up