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Mixed feelings on Slender: The Arrival

Slender: The Arrival is the glorious update to the popular Slender game that circulated the internet. But did bringing the bling make it lose some of the charm?

The original Slender

WARNING this entry contains spoilers regarding Slender and Slender: The Arrival

Its seemed like for the last couple years the only place to get games that would sincerely make me uncomfortable is from the indie games community. Silent Hill Downpour and the Dead Space series had a couple moments, but never brought me close to the point where I said "Hell no I'm not playing that again tonight".

Slender is the first game I've played that, despite it's basic visual assembly, ruined the rest of my evening. And would do this consistently every time I tried to return to it.

So why not Slender: The Arrival? Why doesn't it seem to effect me in the same manner? Two things I've figured.

First.
Truth be told, it was with much anxiety I greeted Slender: The Arrival. With the previous game's mental scars in my mind I spent the section with the house actually ready to shit myself at any moment. I waited and waited and waited, expecting me to turn a corner in that house and shit myself when the slenderman was suddenly there.
And then I came to the horrible realization this whole first bit was scripted and it deflated my suspense completely. The original Slender always gave me the impression that you hit the ground running, that if you weren't getting busy right away you were fucked. So having this silly little safeland buffer in the Arrival axed a bit of my replayability.

Second.
The original Slender had a very raw interaction with it. It didn't overly care about presentation, it didn't want to show me silly concept art while a loading screen appeared. For all you knew this damn thing was going to delete your computer. It didn't behave like a professional looking game, and that made it dangerous because there was no comforting way to predict how it may interact. This unpredictabiltiy is what makes a horror game effective (I'm looking at you Irisu Syndrome). It allows the user to feed into themselves all sorts of dark thoughts of what the game might be trying.

So for me, the biggest and most critical flaw in The Arrival is that when you eventually succumb, you get greated with this dinky "Quit / Retry" screen right away.

In the original, with your last interaction being staring straight into the faceless Slender, the game immediately CLOSES. For whatever reason, this raw computer interaction of a game closing itself because you failed scared me SHITLESS. This drove me to check my taskbar to make sure it wasn't still running, in case it wanted to pop back up or something crazy. Also, in terms of experience, it set everything to 11 and kicked me out with that being the last experience with it. This intensified the reaction and lingering memory significantly. Showing that Quit / Retry screen now just cheapens the closing experience- perhaps as if they thought "Oh we're a real game now we should show these things probably".  There there, it's ok... try again, it says.

Well anyways, it is a very gorgeous re-do of the Slender game at least. I do like it, but I'll still be leaving the evening-ruining pleasure to the original.

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