The mythos of Slenderman shouldn’t be much of a mystery anymore. The abnormally tall creature with no discernible facial features and a rockin’ tuxedo has blown up in popularity these past couple of years. This is mostly due to popular web series Marble Hornets, but another thing that added to the creepy character’s popularity was a small game called Slender, which is now more commonly referred to as Slender: The Eight Pages. The name change coincided with the announcement of a new entry in the series, adding more to the previous instalment, which consisted of nothing but walking through a forest, and, you guessed it, collecting pages.
Slender: The Arrival is developer Blue Isle Studios’ attempt at expanding upon the original idea, with a largely coherent narrative that plays into the concept of Slendy using Proxys – or mind-controlled minions. There are also items other than pages to gather, as well as new environments to explore. Despite these additions, though, it’s the tense atmosphere and genuinely unnerving audio work that remained the real standouts back when the update launched last year on the PC. Fast forward to the present, and the title has been ported to the PlayStation 3 – but while the excellent audio work remains very much intact, it feels like something has got lost in translation.
For starters, the game is horrifically optimised, with frame rate problems being the norm rather than the exception. The title sputters along at around 20 frames-per-second, and never really feels fluid. We also uncovered other technical issues, such as constant tearing. This may have been a design decision – a symptom of the title’s Outlast-esque handheld camera approach – but we honestly think that that may be giving this clumsy conversion too much credit.
And that’s because the textures too look off. The title appears to be running at a resolution lower than high definition, which is alarming considering that the game wasn’t ever particularly visually taxing on laptops when it came out last year. This issue is further compounded by the fact that the in-game flashlight seems to wash out everything, giving the game a harsh, overexposed look, which, while potentially realistic with some particularly potent torches, is not especially visually appealing.
At least, as mentioned, the game’s audio fares better, creating an unnerving atmosphere, which, even with the above technical issues, makes scouring the darkness an occasionally engaging pastime. That is, until the controls are taken into account, which makes navigation a nightmare all of its own. Camera sway and head bob are turned up to an obnoxious level, giving you the impression that you’re a Wobbling Weeble rather than an actual person. This, combined with the finicky run command – which requires you to slam the thumb stick into the bottom of your controller in order to even start jogging – culminates in an unnecessarily uncomfortable experience.
Slender: The Arrival was a solid horror title on the PC when it came out in early 2013, and that fact remains unchanged. This PS3 port is unfortunately a shambling nightmare, though, with very few elements working as intended. The audio is perhaps the saving grace in this shudder-inducing outing, but beyond that, this is a miserable mess of a conversion. As such, if you really want this game, skip on the PS3, and opt instead for the PC edition, which is definitely the superior version.