Overall score 60

Slender: The Arrival originally released March 26, 2013 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. I didn’t play the game at that time so the Switch release would be my introduction to the game. I was unsure of what to expect going in, but just by the trailers I had seen and the information I gathered I assumed it to be a similar experience to that of Outlast.

Unfortunately what began as an exciting exploration into the horror genre quickly became a repetitive task with little feeling of accomplishment along the way. The way to progress through the game is fairly simple, explore the level acquiring items and lore as you dodge Slender Man. Being that he is of supernatural origins, there are cheap tricks in place (teleportation) which serves as a way to keep you on your toes and extend gameplay by you ultimately having to respawn and retry the level. However, after a few levels, you learn the best way to counteract this is to stay towards the perimeter of each level and acquire the objectives closest to the border before finally closing in on the objectives towards the center of the map. This strategy along with being killed over and over unfairly makes the game feel repetitive. Like other games similar in the genre you cannot kill Slender Man, only run from him so this becomes a game of hide and seek that you’re never truly inspired to play.

Slender Man’s minions also played a factor in the experience, as we eventually are introduced to a second enemy type. The Proxy, a knife-wielding kid stalks you as you once more go and collect a series of items in a repetitive fashion. Multiple kills without warning ultimately lead to frustration that is never truly overcome. You stop being a prisoner of suspense and become a goal-oriented machine unaffected by the same initial moments that caught you off guard. There are so many places this game could have taken you but we never see that actualization because the growth seems to be stunted in place.

A redeeming factor was found in this game’s audio, as I found myself surprised at the quality of the sound effects and how clearly the floors creaked, doors closed, windows opened and other little touches that resonated as I progressed through the game. The graphics were what you would expect for a game released in 2013, and the Nintendo Switch did little to bring that to the present day. Perhaps playing it in 2013 would have lessened the disappointment but ultimately graphics didn’t hinder the gameplay or the story.

Final Thoughts

The first twenty minutes of this game made me hopeful that I would be taken to a place that I ultimately never arrived at. Repetitive gameplay spoils what otherwise had great potential while room for improvement is apparent. This game is worth the playthrough, just don’t expect it to be captivating or enthralling. If you’re looking for something to occupy your time on the Switch while you wait for that next big game to drop look no further. I’m curious to see if Blue Isle expands upon this series, implementing changes in a future title based on lessons that can be learned from this project’s reception.

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