Slender Review – Don’t look at him!
The Slender Man was created by internet users, back in 2009 (according to most precise sources). A strange human like apparition, of a tall slender man, wearing a black suit and bearing absolutely no face. In the created mythos he appears randomly, but does not move, merely stands in place. It is one of those “ghosts” that the more you try to learn about, the less you want to know. I learned of the Slender Man when I heard of a game inspired by him, called Slender. After a long time I decided to attempt and beat the game. It turned out, the game beat me.
Slender Review – Don’t look at him!
Slender is a First-Person Horror Survival game giving you, the player, a simple task. Find eight notes littered about the map. How hard can that be? It all depends on one important thing. Are you easily intimidated by “key” horror elements? Allow me to tell you what is it that most terrified me about the Slender Man, and as such Slender.
In Amnesia: The Dark Descent, you can hear the monsters, walking around, moaning or doing some other noise. The Slender Man does not make any noise. You walk down the woodland, slowly turn around to try and look past the fog, and then you see an inch of a black suit, a foot, or the pale face looking at you from a distance. You start running, but the thumping of your heart and the eerie music does not let you rest. “Is it still behind me?” you think to yourself. “You stop for just a moment, look back, and your screen begins to distort, ripple, so you run more, and you keep running. Your flashlight flails around madly, you lose any and all sense of direction. Then you stop for that one last moment. You look back, nothing, and as you turn to look “forward” again the Slender Man catches you, and the world goes completely black. There are only two ways in which you lose in Slender. The Slender Man catches you (he teleports, but only when you do not look at him) or you lose your sanity, by staring at the Slender Man for too long. What to do if you want to save yourself from the Slender Man’s grasp? Turn your flashlight off, and run in the opposite direction, until you feel you are safe.
Everything in Slender acts against you. Your own footsteps, the shadows, the fog, even your own flashlight. I tried playing with all the graphic commodities the game offered. Then, I could not get my eyes off every single distortion that seemed to remind me of a suit, arm, leg or face. As I approached a landmark, and I collected the first note I could hear the steady thumping of my character’s heart. That thumping made me think “It’s right behind me”, so for the rest of the game I tried not to look back. I forced my brain not to turn the camera around to check if there was anything on either side of the path I was taking. The other mental note that was present screamed “Do not go off the path.”. The seemingly ordinary woodland is not inviting, at all. On the other hand, there is nothing “Evil” about the map. Some deserted buildings, a giant concrete pipe, large boulder, among other landmarks. Although they hold some sort of mystical power, they are not the evil in the game, it’s your imagination.
The controls in Slender are simple. You walk around with WSAD, sprint with shift, turn on the flash light with F, Zoom in with E, Zoom out with Q and pick up Notes with the left mouse button. You do not have an inventory as such, and your only aim is to find the notes. The flashlight can eventually run out of power, and using it becomes both a blessing and a curse. Why? The flashlight attracts the Slender Man. If you turn it on, the Slender Man sees you. If you turn it off you can escape the Slender Man, but you will not see anything.
For such a simple game it offers incredible graphic quality, and a thrill I did not have since playing Amnesia: The Dark Descent. I am still gathering myself to try and attempt Slender yet again, but the experience is draining. As such, if you are after a game that will scare you, Slender is perfect for that.
There is a problem with the game however, and it is the very same thing that makes it great. I tried playing Slender on the highest possible graphic setting and I had problems with running it smoothly. You do not lose much by decreasing the quality, but I still had a small FPS issue, even on lower settings.
Brilliant in its simplicity
Overall though, Slender is another solid proof that the Horror Survival genre is not dead. There are still games out there that will kick your psyche so hard that you will go back to sleeping with your teddy and lights on. Here a warning from myself. If you have a weak nerve, try playing it with a friend. If you do begin suffering from “Slender Man visions” though, contact me! I am almost a psychologist.
Do not think this is a “lengthy” game. At most you will play it for ten to twenty minutes at a time. On the other hand, despite what some might say, this game does not cease to scare you. In different Reaction Videos I have watched people often try to find methods of “working out” the game. They would suggest methods of evading the Slender Man, when not to look, how not to act and so on. From what I could tell? They were still scared, despite having played the game a number of times. You will join that crowd soon as well.
Despite the incredible experience, Slender will have to make do with an 8/10. It is not because the game does not deserve a higher score, but there is simply not enough content in it. There is no story, aside from a child (?) going around a forest looking for notes. If there was something to grab onto and follow this game would definitely score higher. As much as I would want to say that Slender earns a 9 or 10, an 8 will have to do. Who knows what could come in future patches though? On the other hand, Slender manages to tell us how, in a nutshell, real Survival Horror Games should be. A lot of Horror game developers could learn from Slender, and I hope they will.
If you are after a Multiplayer Slender experience check out our Slender: Source article!
Did you hear that the next installment of Slender is underway?
Alex “WriterX” Bielski