Slender is a first-person horror game created by Parsec Productions featuring a supernatural creature from internet myth. The character ‘Slender Man’ is a tall, disproportionately-limbed entity wearing a black suit. According to legend, he stalks children and lures them into forests, never to be seen again. His arms stretch to inhuman lengths to ensnare his prey, and looking directly into his face can cause loss of vision.
When you start the game, your character jumps a fence into a park at night and the only instructions are to collect all 8 pages. You’ll soon find out that the only controls you possess are to move and look around, run, and turn on and off a flashlight. You’re surrounded by trees in every direction you look, but it isn’t that scary because the graphics are only mediocre. If you take some steps forward, the crunching sounds from your feet walking on the ground are loud against the dead silence of the forest. Once you find the running controls, your character takes heavy breaths after finishing a run. These sounds solidify the feeling of being utterly and completely alone in the dark since your body movements sound ridiculously loud. You’re probably hoping at this point that nothing is in the park with you because you’re easy to hear, but things never go your way in horror games do they?
The simplicity of the game will probably catch you off guard because you’re expecting something terrifying right off the bat. After all, your friends told you this was an insanely scary game. As you go further and further into the game, the sneaky sound effects and bad graphics will prove scarier than you could ever imagine. Let’s start with your first page. You’ve been wandering around in the trees for some time when you encounter a clearing: you might see a silo, a large tree, some rocks or other simple things that might be found in a park. Once you pick up the page, a drum beat starts in the background. This is how the game builds up: every time you pick up a page, the music intensifies.
What you don’t realize if it’s your first time playing, is that the game gets harder as well. Slender Man is stalking you from afar, but after each successive page he follows you more closely. He can also show up in places where you know you have to go to collect pages. In the beginning of the game, you won’t have any problems if you turn a corner or completely around. By the end of the game, you’ll regret every move because you know he’s lurking somewhere near, waiting for you to stare into his deadly eyes.
Even from the start when you haven’t seen Slender yet, the game is chilling because it instills a sense of vulnerability. You have no defenses and must resort to running away, but the darkness feels claustrophobic and it seems like there’s no place to hide. I found that the longer you play the game, the more alone you feel in the dark, and the faster your heartbeat gets. Even though I’ve played the game many times and know all the places the pages could be located at, the sound effects always get under my skin and the unpredictability of where Slender Man will be next makes me jump every time.
Did I mention that the flashlight dims the longer you leave it on? That’s right, every once in a while you have to resort to walking around in the dark to preserve the brightness of the flashlight. Another tip: never turn around, unless you have a death wish. Slender will always be there and you don’t want to have the grey screen that covers your vision whenever you look in his direction. Walk forward, collect pages, and don’t get caught.
I know some people complain about how bad the graphics are compared to modern games, so here’s my debate over it: on the one hand, if the graphics were better for Slender Man it would be scarier when he caught you, but the forest would be less scary because it would be more detailed and easier to see. What I love about the bad graphics is that it’s very dark and hard to see far ahead. It feels like you’re completely lost and all you can do is hope that you’re going in the right direction. Slender Man is also just detailed enough to see from far away, so the graphics don’t take away from the stress of him following you. The grey screen becomes difficult to deal with on top of the mediocre graphics when you’re trying to run away from Slender Man. If Slender Man were more detailed and the forest stayed as dark as it looks in the original game, I would be fine with an upgrade to the graphics. I realize that there’s also a newer version of Slender with better graphics, but since I haven’t played it yet it’s up to you to decide its quality.
All in all, you play Slender for a horrifying experience and not for the graphics. I recommend turning off the lights and blasting the sound for immersive, heart-racing gameplay. You can also play with friends and challenge each other to the ‘360 Challenge’: whenever that phrase is yelled, the person playing must do a slow, complete turn without dying. If you want to have a scary night, click on the link below and download the game for yourself!