Slender: The Arrival Leaves You With Nothing But Your Instincts

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Slender: The Arrival Leaves You With Nothing But Your Instincts

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Blue Isle Studios' new horror game aims to have players "reacting in new ways they might not expect."

Even if you haven't played it, you may have heard about Slender, the small experimental horror title that went viral last August and scared the wits out of many gamers, myself included. Developed by one-man studio Parsec Productions, Slender sent you into a darkened forest to try and findeight pages scattered across the game world before an entity known as the Slender Man found you, and... well, you can guess how poorly things would go from there. The game itself was short and simple, and as popular as it became, it didn't feel much more than a proof of concept.

However, the idea was solid enough for independent game developer Blue Isle Studios to announce last September that it would collaborate with Parsec to create Slender: The Arrival, an "official re-imaging" of the original game. With just a month to go before its launch in late March, Blue Isle has high hopes for the larger and more ambitious title, and I recently had the opportunity to speak with Blue Isle's lead designer, Alex Tintor, to learn more about the challenges they faced in designing The Arrival and what horror gamers can expect in this new entry to the Slender mythos.

"The original [Slender] was so simple, yet so effective and we knew we had to exceed that game in every way," Tintor said of the obstacles his team had to overcome when first starting development on The Arrival. "We know we can do the graphics, sound, and story to a much better level, but we had to ensure the tension and terror were still there."

Creating genuine scares in a horror game can be a tricky thing to do. Something that made Parsec's Slender particularly terrifying was its element of randomness over how and when Slender appeared. Sometimes Slender would appear far off in the distance, other times players would turn around and run into him face first, introducing a sense of paranoia that would often leave players jumping at shadows. With The Arrival, Tintor and his team are hoping to maintain that style of tension by making players feel as vulnerable and isolated as their in-game avatar.

"We've designed the game to sort of... change itself each time you play," Tintor said of how The Arrival's gameplay has been designed to keep players guessing. "There are times where we want to totally disorient players and others where we give them a big landscape and say 'Go explore.' The tension-building comes in never knowing when the next encounter will happen and quite honestly, playtesters have reacted really well to this type of stuff."

Interestingly enough, Slender won't be the only danger that players will have to worry about while they explore the game world. If you've checked out The Arrival's trailer, you might've noticed a few glimpses of other not-so-friendly-looking characters inhabiting its environment. Tintor didn't give specifics on who (or what) else players will run into while playing The Arrival, but did say that they're part of Blue Isle's push to include new kinds of gameplay other than a simple item hunt like the one that encompassed the entirety of the original game. Players will have to solve puzzles, explore the game world and above all try to survive whatever horrors they discover.

"We don't want to rehash the same experience over and over in each level, so we've been really careful to always be introducing something new to the experience," Tintor explained. "There are additional dangers in the game and our goal is to get players reacting in new ways they might not expect."

Blue Isle isn't relying on new game mechanics to deliver all the scares though. Something that was missing from the original Slender was a well-fleshed out story to give context as to why players should be worried about running into Slender. Unless you've heard of the Slender Man in passing from other websites or had looked into the various web series, blogs and ARGs on the subject, you didn't have much to go on asides a bare-bones narrative from the game's main page.

To ensure that The Arrival's story would be on par with all of its other improvements, Blue Isle Studio worked closely with the writers behind Marble Hornets, a web series that has often been credited with shaping the overall Slender Man mythos. The series is focused on a young man named Jay, who starts looking through several old tapes belonging to a film project his friend abandoned for mysterious reasons - and ends up coming across something horrific. While the The Arrival doesn't appear to be directly tied to Marble Hornets, Blue Isle Studios is looking to contribute something unique to the Slender saga with its game.

"In terms of inspiration, we widened our scope greatly and looked at other great games, movies, and stories - both horror and non-horror stuff." Tintor said. "We want to stay true to the character but we also wanted to show people something that's new and worth showing."

Brave souls can pick up Slender: The Arrival when it launches for the PC on the 26th of March.

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Slenderman is not the sort of game I would have thought needed a facelift.

Already preordered. The beta was both beautiful and terrifying. Absolutely stoked for the final release.

Mcoffey:
Already preordered. The beta was both beautiful and terrifying. Absolutely stoked for the final release.

Thanks for giving me the heads up on this. I just pre-ordered too(the Producers Edition), and the Beta is currently downloading.

The original Slender was a great party game, and in my experience quite effective, if very basic. Looking forward to see what they/he can do with a full budget.

Being a major fan of Marble Hornets is an extra incentive for me.

Mr Cwtchy:

Mcoffey:
Already preordered. The beta was both beautiful and terrifying. Absolutely stoked for the final release.

Thanks for giving me the heads up on this. I just pre-ordered too(the Producers Edition), and the Beta is currently downloading.

The original Slender was a great party game, and in my experience quite effective, if very basic. Looking forward to see what they/he can do with a full budget.

Being a major fan of Marble Hornets is an extra incentive for me.

I got the producers edition as well. The Beta is magnificent & Marble Hornets is perhaps my favorite web series (despite ruining every night of sleep since discovering it)

Love the minimalist gameplay & it's influence on indie game development as a whole

Blue Isle Studios' new horror game aims to have players "reacting in new ways they might not expect."

like running away with different pacing?

DVS BSTrD:
Slenderman is not the sort of game I would have thought needed a facelift.

God Damn Bastard[1], I've been watching you from the rafters for awhile now, and you are chocked full of puns. They're... So bad...

OT: I'd buy. The reason I didn't get Slender was because I felt it was too simple, so this adding on will give me reason to open my wallet. I could use a good scare, I'm short on them you see.

[1] It's his name, not an insult, don't ban me! PLEASE!!

Slender-type games are typically ones I don't like; I prefer games that build up psychological horror, instead of an instant-kill-you monster just randomly appearing around you, making you hope you don't get cornered in some bland hallway with the second-to-last Macguffin you need to win.

However, I've seen a Let's Play of Arrival's beta, and... well, it still doesn't look quite like my cup of tea, but I do have to admit that the production values are excellent- the distortion effects when Slendy shows up are much better than the simple static most other games of the type have, and the one area I saw in the LP looked beautiful, though it can be difficult to tell when you're sprinting through it at night hoping not to be caught by a cosmic horror- and knowing that Troy Wagner, Joseph DeLage and Tim Sutton (the writers/stars of Marble Hornets, a series I'm a huge fan of) are handling the writing is another big plus. Also, I'm a bit intrigued by the possible addition of other creepypasta creatures and more conventional antagonists (it looks like Masky, or at least an analogue of him, is making an appearance) and how the player character can combat/avoid them.

I won't call it a preorder just yet... but I'll keep my eye on it. Who knows, maybe it'll surprise me.

Masky would be cool. Would also be cool if they reached out to other creepy pastas. Ug, now my mind is racing with ideas. Maybe they shouldn't have done that.

The whole Slenderman thing as horror never really worked for me. It makes me sad because I do enjoy horror.

They should just grab multiple types of monsters and let only one or two spawn randomly that then would hunt the player. The player wouldnt know wich were the ones spawned and how many (basicly you wouldnt know exactly what the fuck is behind you).

Some monsters should be killable (each one having a specific way of being killed) making the player have to choose between taking a pistol or a bottle with holy water without still knowing exactly what is coming after him.

So long as they don't try to copyright slenderman as their own IP. It's clearly public domain, spawning from 4chan (namely /x/) and other sites like The SCP Foundation ( http://www.scp-wiki.net/ ).

I would just be frustrated if a company came in and thus had exclusive rights to all slender content.

josemlopes:
They should just grab multiple types of monsters and let only one or two spawn randomly that then would hunt the player. The player wouldnt know wich were the ones spawned and how many (basicly you wouldnt know exactly what the fuck is behind you).

Some monsters should be killable (each one having a specific way of being killed) making the player have to choose between taking a pistol or a bottle with holy water without still knowing exactly what is coming after him.

I like this. I REALLY like this. Especially, the randomized monsters.

OT: I'll be honest here...fuck Slender. You see, that game isn't scary and it isn't fun. It's just kinda annoying. The character moves too slow, the hammer sound is irritating, and the whole looking-at-slenderman-ends-the-game thing turns the entire game into a glorified game of Peek-a-boo. I mean, cmon! Give us a chance to at least run away and hide! Sure, it would be a glorified game of hide-n-seek, but hide-n-seek is a whole lot more fun than peek-a-boo.

From what I saw in the trailer, with the other baddies, it kinda looks like seeing one isn't an automatic gameover. And that alone gives me hope. Plus, getting strangled to death is a lot more terrifying than static.

In other semi-related news, Marble Hornets is getting an actual movie. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118066545/

Pre-ordered. Such a beautiful genre that's taken quite a beating. If it's all we've got until A machine for pigs (which I am worried about), I'll support the genre and indie development. I'm a sucker for it I guess.

Still don't get what people liked about the Original. I'll take a look when they release this one, but probably give it a miss.

Wish they'd kept in the female PC for posterity, but I guess all that really matters is that Slenderman makes static out of computer screens and laundry of pants. Also, why not name it Slenderman: The Arrival? It's not like he's copyrighted.

I don't understand why people continue to hate on the original when it was originally a one-off tiny project that wasn't supposed to be a deep experience, I mean, the guy even said he was embarrassed that so many people loved his unpolished goof off game, which is why this version was made in order to do justice for something a lot of people seem into.

DVS BSTrD:
Slenderman is not the sort of game I would have thought needed a facelift.

Every time you make a cheesy joke on a thread I hear it in Grunckle Stan's voice *eerie music*

I still think slenderman looks a bit sausagey, I imagined him more spidery I guess. Still looks cool though. I will probably get it.

Working with the people who did Marble Hornets?

Welp, my interest has been crushed. That series was terrible, though it got funny whenever the kid in the face paint showed up.

Halfstache:
In other semi-related news, Marble Hornets is getting an actual movie. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118066545/

Isn't that what it already is though? Just one really long horror movie? I see that it is directed by the same guy that did the Paranormal Activity films. I have a feeling the movie won't do that well.

Halfstache:
In other semi-related news, Marble Hornets is getting an actual movie. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118066545/

That's cool? Are they gonna have the Marble Hornets guys write it, like this game?

And really... You take each Marble Hornets "season" and splice em together, and they make a pretty good movie as is. I have the first season all put together like that, and it's awesome.

Still, it's good material. Hopefully Hollywood doesn't muck with a good formula too much.

Interesting side-note: It's been speculated that Slender Man was based off the 'Tall Man' character from Yahtzee's indie adventure series:
image

So the whole thing has kind of come full circle now that there's an article on the Escapist about it. Hm.

AC10:
So long as they don't try to copyright slenderman as their own IP. It's clearly public domain, spawning from 4chan (namely /x/) and other sites like The SCP Foundation ( http://www.scp-wiki.net/ ).

I would just be frustrated if a company came in and thus had exclusive rights to all slender content.

I would LURVE it if SCP had an actual developer making their games.

yea, they are scary as fuck to begin with, but just imagine if the same production was put into them as is with The Arrival.

I would keep playing the beta, but my computer is now bees.

what if the internet was bees?

I'd like it if they incorporated him as a random mob into another game, one where you wouldn't expect to find him. Maybe code the game so very few players ever see him too, like the vagrant in dark souls.

James Joseph Emerald:
Interesting side-note: It's been speculated that Slender Man was based off the 'Tall Man' character from Yahtzee's indie adventure series:
image

So the whole thing has kind of come full circle now that there's an article on the Escapist about it. Hm.

Well, the tall, creepy guy in a suit is an old idea. Phantasm used the same thing and called him... uh, the Tall Man. then there was The Gaunt Man in TORG.

As I understand things Slender Man started on the Something Awful site where they were having a contest to shop creepy looking photos, one paticulaly realistic looking one captured a lot of imagination, and Slender Man was born.

It's kind of awesome that it's gone on this long, but as time goes on there seems to be an increasing tendency to turn Slendy into some kind of super-monster, when really it was an "on the fringes" thing, largely unknown because it attacked children and didn't leave anything behind, working around the fringes, which is how it survived.

I haven't checked in on Marble Hornets for a while, but as it was developing and the mythos took increasing shape I increasingly had to wonder that if Slender Man was anything like presented why it would need to hide. It's the same problem I have with a lot of horror mythologies when they go on for a while, there is a point at which it becomes hard to believe it could be kept secret, or why the creature(s) haven't just taken over the world yet. I mean strictly speaking I see no reason why the Marble Hornets version of Slenderman couldn't just waltz into The White House, gobble up Obama, and take over the country (or replace any world leader with that for that matter). Then all he'd need to do is have some kids bussed in every so often for a "meet the president field trip" and have his own little buffet. :)

At any rate, all rambling aside, the game does seem neat. I'll keep an eye on it.

Mcoffey:
Already preordered. The beta was both beautiful and terrifying. Absolutely stoked for the final release.

I just preordered it... Dat beta. Is the full release going to have more? Because currently it just felt like the original version but with updated graphics. Not like the trailer that had more.

The Apple BOOM:
Masky would be cool. Would also be cool if they reached out to other creepy pastas. Ug, now my mind is racing with ideas. Maybe they shouldn't have done that.

I see what you've done there.

I hope they don't go crazy and include other monsters. I mean we have the term "creepypasta" but it'd be weird if all the monsters were worked into some kind of single universe. The Slenderman mythos is getting convoluted enough with all of it's rules and roles and what not.

The Slenderman itself, in it's design and function, is a really effective boiling down of what makes us scared - it's physically imposing (cause you know, he's bigger than us), it's uncanny (unnaturally law and lanky), and it's unknown (appearing in backgrounds of photographs and in the corner of our vision). The original Slender game really got it right with it's simplicity, and I worry that adding more things in it, while not making it any less of a scary game, will ruin the whole elegance of the concept.

I'm glad they're actually trying to improve it's gameplay rather than getting big headed and releasing a game that's utter fan-w**k which is basically a copy and paste of the original JUST to please fans.

The only problem I had with the game is that finding pages isn't exactly a fun task, even with Slender about waiting to get you. Puzzles and different enemies will definitely tempt me, and those environments are STUNNING.

The Apple BOOM:
Masky would be cool. Would also be cool if they reached out to other creepy pastas. Ug, now my mind is racing with ideas. Maybe they shouldn't have done that.

Oh god, don't remind me of BEN. I still get chills reading those quotes D:

Slender not scary i don't know why people find it scary

You know what the joke of it all is? Slender used plenty of tropes that have other horror games strung up from the rafters by fans. It was just a big fetch quest with a load of jump scares. That was it, I found it boring.

I don't even think its jump scares worked that well. Atleast in the likes of dead space they are sudden and make you jump by sheer force of surprise. Slender kindly let you know when it was gonna appear and look at you funny from behind a tree, by turning you into a faulty fm radio.

I Honestly do not see why it got such acclaim from fans. And I'd have thought the fickle ocean that is fan approval would have gotten tired of budget horror games by now and make waves in another direction.

Just give me a Rake cameo somewhere, maybe it crawling away in an unreachable part of the map. But yeah, game is looking good.

I feel a little sad that people jump on Slender so often, the game was developed by one guy for the purpose of entertaining the existing fanbase, he never intended it to get as big as it did.

sounds interesting. will keep an eye on it. but i wait first to see how much it will cost and it generally is.

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