The Slender Man is perhaps one of the most famously unknown and terrifying stalkers talked about throughout fictional history and now thanks to the work of a single man he’s gotten a little more exposure. But first, a little backstory on who — or what — the Slender Man actually is.
The Slender Man was created at the Something Awful Forums in a thread entitled “Create Paranormal Images.” He is seen as wearing a black suit, a tuxedo, and as the name suggests he is extremely thin and is able to stretch his limbs and torso to inhuman lengths in order to induce fear and ensnare his victims — children. Once his arms are outstretched his victims are put into something of a hypnotised state, this is where they are completely helpless to The Slender Man’s evil-doings. He is also able to create tendrils from his fingers and back that he uses to walk on in a similar fashion to Doc Ock, the Spider Man villain in the Marvel Universe. The superhuman stretching ability can also be seen as a similarity between himself and Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four. Whether he absorbs, kills, or mearly takes his victims to an undisclosed location or dimension is also unknown as there are never any bodies or evidence left behind in his wake to deduce a definite conclusion.
The game Slender, created by Parsec Productions (a one-many army) places the player in the midst of a dark, spooky forest in the middle of nowhere. The player assumes the role of a female child where you are immediately instructed to collect eight pages, which are found scattered intelligently random throughout the forest. There is no tutorial, there is no prologue, there is no introduction to the game. Much like in real-life you hear yourself climb the fence and flick your flashlight on. You are now completely alone and defenceless, well, The Slender Man will be sure to keep you comforted in your journey.
Continuing on, it’s incredibly easy to learn the controls and mechanics of the game. Left-click is the action button (which is pretty much to collect pieces of paper), right-click is your flashlight, left shift is to sprint and buttons Q and E are used to zoom in and out respectively, with an appropriate lens-zoom sound effect as they are held down. Finding and collecting the first page initiates the first stage of ambient music: an off-in-the-distance drum echoing that will continue playing from now on. Now for every two additional pages you find, the next stage of ambient sounds will layer on top of each other, progressively becoming more chilling and intimidating. It’s a very effective, but simple, technique to ensue paranoia and fear.
|Your flashlight will eventually run out!
Without spoiling, the pages can be found around landmarks in the forest; so you’re not going to find a page randomly on the floor in the middle of a bunch of trees; however, there is some level of consistency and visual clues as to where they can be. Also, at the beginning of each session of play, the pages’ locations are randomly generated in specific “hot spots” so you will not always find the same page at the same spot every single time. Now, picking up from before about music, the first stage of ambient sound is an audio cue to tell you that The Slender Man is on to you. There is no message that appears to break the immersion and tell you that you’re being stalked. Everything is naturally integrated in to the gameplay itself. The author of this game was definitely aiming for the most immersive and frightening video game experienc, by keeping the screen HUDless and replacing user interface elements with both an adaptive mix of visual and audio.
With this in mind, I found myself constantly looking around my surroundings, especially outside; expecting The Slender Man to appear right in-front of my eyes. As a matter of speaking, he has the ability to teleport anywhere on the map to where-ever you’re not looking at, but I learned that pretty quickly after finding my first page. With he continuation of the building-up ambient music along with the fear of seeing The Slender Man appearing right behind me with the classic “DUNN!” B-movie horror sound effect, my hands were physically sweating and my mouth was open the entire time I was playing; just waiting to be scared. I feel Slender is a self-selling game that makes you question your own psyche subconsciously. It was my own fear that that was keeping me motivated to play. I wasn’t sure if seeing or not seeing The Slender Man was for the better or not because it could mean he was going to either appear before my eyes any second, or if I did see him, then I would have just got scared by seeing him! This is what I mean when I say it is a self-selling game, I, myself, the player, was scared no matter what I did because of the tension that I created.
Is Slender the scariest video game ever made? Maybe…. It’s certainly the scariest video game I’ve ever played. Its efficient and simple style of gameplay makes up for a very convincing and addicting atmosphere. The realisation that you are indeed alone and helpless, and that all you can do is dig yourself a deeper grave, is spectacular. Its casual approach makes it open to all and any type of person to play, even if you don’t like to play video games, there is a strange addiction and compulsion to keep going and keep playing until the bitter end, a “so close yet so far” philosophy.
Slender was finished multiple times with a total of 5/8 pages, played on version 0.9.5 beta. For those who regard score as an important factor to a review, Slender receives a 10/10. It’s simply one of the most scary experiences you will have whilst playing video games, maybe even in your life, and should be played by everybody.
Guru Meditation is a regular author for GamingAdvance. You may contact Guru Meditation through the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.