Slender: The Arrival is a work of horror, but 'horror' doesn't come close to covering the emotional journey involved. Angst comes first. It arrives after you leave the muffled safety of your Jeep and twist through the trees towards an old friend's mansion for a reunion. As any walker knows, night doesn't fall in a forest. It rises, up from the brush, in great billowing shadows. By the time you make it to the front door the light has entirely failed, the darkness surged through the leaf canopy, up and up, to form a unanimous night.
Angst turns to concern when you find the house open, but haggardly deserted. The windows are open, the TV emits a threatening buzz of static: oh no, where is she? Just as you locate a torch on the dining room table amongst the other domestic debris, a scream streaks in from the back yard. Now concern contorts into anxiety as the implicit is made audibly explicit. There might be any number of legitimate reasons for a house to be deserted, but there's usually only one reason a woman shrieks in the countryside at night. Against your better instincts, you trip down the staircase, obeying the game's monolithic, unsympathetic instruction to Investigate scream beyond the back gate.
Fear comes next, as you creep back into the forest in search of the screamer. Like the forest dark, fear grows upwards, from the inside as your mind shines a torch on formless childhood memories, somehow linked to the scene in your subconscious - the time you lost sight of your mother in the supermarket; the night you woke in bed, paralysed by the knowledge you were no longer alone. You hear another's footsteps close by, but when you swivel to look, there's no one there. In this self-doubt (am I hearing things?) fear tightens its coil and slowly deafens when you find the first page from your friend's diary, nailed to a tree ("Help me!"), pinned to a concrete wall ("Go home"), on the aluminium side of a radio tower. A heartbeat pulse thuds in the soundtrack.