Here we are, internet, day 2 of our horror roundup. Our first look into the horror genre focused on the Resident Evil series, so I thought it would be appropriate to look at a game that was the exact opposite of Resident Evil. That game is Slender: The Eight Pages (Formally just Slender). While even the earliest Resident Evils involved a trained soldier/cop/girl with red short jeans, killing hordes of zombies and other creatures, Slender involves no combat whatsoever. In fact, merely meeting your enemy, the eponymous Slender Man, results in a game over. In other words, this is a very different kind of horror game than most mainstream horror games such as Resident Evil, Silent Hill, or Dead Space. It is also the most legitimately scary video game to be released in years. Finally, for good measure, the game is entirely free, so download it now! Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
|He’s waiting too.|
Slender is a very modern game. By that I mean that it is grounded entirely in the internet generation. For those who aren’t aware, the Slender Man mythos is nothing more than an internet meme that resulted in various people photoshopping an unnaturally long limbed dapper gentleman in the back of old photos. This was usually combined with some type of horror story, like the kids in the photo were never heard from again. This was requisitely creepy, and, lets face facts, the recent movie (Totally dating this post) Sinister is pretty much a complete rip off of this. So while other games focus on old folklore, Slender is firmly grounded in the present.
|Gah, Kill it with fire!|
The gameplay and story of Slender are really really simple. You are a nameless person in the woods and you are looking for eight pages which spawn around the area. The area itself is very dark, but you are armed with a flashlight. Unfortunately, the batteries of that flashlight are not as dependable as we’d like, so you have to conserve it. After picking up your first page, the Slender Man spawns and will chase you if he sees you. With each additional page you collect, he becomes increasingly aggressive. As mentioned before, if you see the Slender Man, the game is over. Sure, you can catch a glimpse of him, but as you collect pages, the fact of the matter is that if you can see him, he already has you.
|Horrifying for so many reasons. Mostly the sexy Russians.|
That’s the game in a nutshell. It isn’t long, and you probably won’t make it too far even if it were. The game is repetitive, the environments aren’t fantastic. The Slender Man chase engine is basically the magnificent teleporting Dr. Watson from Sherlock Holmes: Nemesis. Despite these obvious shortcomings, the game is a perfect example of a focused, flawed, independent game showing the big boys exactly what to do. While Slender fails in so many categories, it succeeds brilliantly at the only thing it tries to do: scare the living shit out of you. The beauty of it, is that the game doesn’t need to stand against horror giants. It doesn’t have to have longevity. All it has to do is scare you using its very brief time. It is a very different approach to horror, one that doesn’t rely on providing a full retail experience, and it is an approach that works very well.
|Yeah, you’re dead now.
Also, yes, I am intentionally not showing any other picture of the gameplay.
Slender works as a horror game the same way that many found footage horror movies scare people, as well as many horror heavy weights such as Alien. By hiding the monster as much as possible, it plays on your imagination to make it scary. The fact that you could be assaulted by an unbeatable, nameless horror at any point, really makes looking around corners a scary endeavour. The fact that there is no defence against the Slender Man adds so much to this. Really, how scared can you be of a zombie, when you just killed dozens of them? By taking out the option to go on the offensive, the game makes itself more terrifying, and, fortunately, doesn’t sabotage itself like many other video games that try the same tactic.
|The Clock Tower series did this, but I’m not sure the developers understand horror too well.|
Slender is perfect for what it is. It is a very small microcosm of a game that is designed to scare. The reason so many games which attempt to do similar things as Slender fail is because of the length of the game. The longer you play around with something, the more you see it, the less horrifying it is. Because of this, Slender works amazingly, and its popularity has led to there being a sequel in the works. So at this point, all that remains to be seen is whether or not Slender has staying power.
– Mistranslations for the Modern Gamer