While it may be late in the day given its release date, what better time is there to pick up and play Slender than around Halloween? I've done just that and here's my thoughts on the viral success that is the first person horror adventure, Slender: The Eight Pages.
Developed by Parsec Productions, Slender is based off the mythos of the Slender Man. He of internet fame through his original creation on the Something Awful forums in 2009 (yes, despite what the internet tells you, he was made up, he didn't originate from a German myth and he isn't knocking on your window, I'm sorry). While it may be fake, the mythos evolved from a simple photoshopped picture for a contest into several successful YouTube series', stories and now, Slendy puts on his finest business suit and appears in his own game. If you can suspend your disbelief when reading the stories or watching the YouTube series' you'll want to give this a go.
The character itself has evolved from being a simple observer in a photograph to being the thing you are scared to think of at night. The game takes that feeling of desperation and plays on it at every turn. You can't fight back, you can't escape, you can only hide fruitlessly. Your simple task is, as the title implies, to collect eight pages from a very dark forest. The more pages you pick up, the more you'll think you see things in the distance. Turn around too fast and you'll swear you saw an arm, a glimpse of the suit, something. Or was it nothing? Best to keep running and not find out. Your only 'weapon' in the game is your flashlight, but guess what? Even that works against you. The more you have yourself lit up in the darkness of the trees, the easier it is for Mr. Slender to find you. What results can go two ways: either a heart-racing sprint through the darkness (and it is very dark), or a bored snail-pace walk through the dark.
The game actually shares many parallels with The Grudge, released on The Wii, in that it revolves around things appearing where you can't initially see them while you walk very slowly. It's a cheap jump-scare tactic, but if you've read anything on the Slender Man you'll know that's his game. It's not enough for a free pass to the cheapest kind of 'horror' there is but it does somewhat excuse it and given the source material, it fits the world naturally.
Thankfully the atmosphere is cranked up to full here, so it's not all things jumping out of nowhere. The extreme darkness and your urge to stay in the dark instead of lighting your way sets a tone of desolation as you gingerly traipse around the woods desperately looking for those pieces of paper.
There's not much more to be said about the game, as it's a very simple affair; you move with WASD keys, you pick up pages with your left mouse button, turn your flashlight on and off with the right mouse button, and sprint for a few seconds with the shift button. That's your entire arsenal right there, you won't find so much as a branch to swing in self-defence here, once Slendy finds you, you can either stare at his (honestly, comical) form and end the game, or you can turn and run.
Graphically it's simple at best. In the dark it looks terrifying as the shapes of tall trees are your only sight, and when the small glow from your flashlight illuminates the way ahead it can look truly terrifying, especially when you're frantically turning around to see if someone's watching you. The textures on the few objects you come across are bland, but thankfully in low supply. Things like a truck, or a wall look bad when you get up close to pick up a page with your flashlight on but these moments are fleeting, you'll spend most of your time in the dark, empty forest. Ironically, the worst looking part of the game is Slender Man himself. He has long had no face in the mythos but seeing it in-game looks frankly ridiculous.
You'll be looking at 10-20 minutes a session, depending on whether or not you get caught early, or depending on how long you stand still for, hoping for the best. It's a very short experience but a memorable one, and that's the main thing. It bodes well for the forthcoming sequel that the original effort is one that sticks in your mind after you've played it.
The game is priced moderately at zero of your country's currency, so there's no excuse not to at least try it. Available (here), it's the perfect time of year to download it and get in on the Slender craze, if you haven't already
- Genuinely creepy atmosphere
- Its sole method of horror is spawning you can't avoid
- Once you've collected all eight pages, there's no reason to play again