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By Matt Jarvis on 23.10.2023

Games review: Slender – The Eight Pages

You’ve probably heard of Slender. If you haven’t, you either don’t venture far into the darker end of the internet, or you’ve had incredible luck (good or bad) in missing one of the latest memes to spread across the web.

Slender is a general term for anything concerning Slenderman, a creation of the Something Awful (www.somethingawful.com) forum ‘Create Paranormal Images’. Slenderman was conceived by one forum poster as a tall, thin entity dressed in a black suit whose limbs stretch out and ensnare his targets. His surge in popularity since conception as ‘creepypasta’, or internet horror-legend, has spawned a massive amount of photoshopped pictures, Youtube series (Marble Hornets is particularly worth a watch) and recently, a free videogame.

The game, originally titled just ‘Slender’ but now ‘Slender: The Eight Pages’, is the first creation from Parsec Productions – a tiny game studio (read: one man) who works with the freely available Unity game engine (try it for yourself at www.unity3d.com). It is in perpetual beta at this moment, with new releases adding features such as fog and more atmosphere to the game.

Having never known about the legend of Slenderman before a friend suggested I play the game, I was rather clueless as to what I was about to experience. We were gathered as a group of seven in a darkened room, everybody watching as I took control of the game. The goal is rather simple – collect the eight pages mentioned in the title. However, as you trudge through the darkened forest with a barely useful flashlight, Slenderman follows you.

Atmosphere is the real success of the game. The tension increases as you collect the hidden pages, creepy crayon drawings of Slenderman which are hidden in places such as an abandoned bathroom or an empty truck with the engine still running. The audio cues are also key in prickling hairs, growing from silence to a thumping heartbeat of synths, complimented by the rhythmic crunching of footsteps as you continually run to end the game.
Slenderman is there to stop you however. The more pages you collect, the quicker he follows you. Staying at a distance, often just poking out from behind trees or revealing just a glimpse, he serves a perfect example of a fear that is more in the imagination than anywhere else. If you catch Slenderman in your view, the screen begins to buzz with radio static, the loud screeching of the audio forcing you to turn and run. There are no set-pieces where Slenderman is guaranteed to be, and often he will wait before springing.

Going into Slender with no clue of the legend, I didn’t expect much. Amnesia has been the only game to scare me to the point of turning the game off, and I didn’t expect much from a small free-software based game made by a single man. What I experienced was one of the scariest experiences of my gaming-based life. Everybody in the room jumped, with a few screams, as Slenderman eventually caught me on around page four of eight. Having gone back many times with a grounded sense of fear, I have never made it through the game. For free, Slender is well worth it, an excellently atmospheric horror game that is rare enough to actually succeed in its task.

If you play Slender and long for more horror, Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a critically lauded horror game often described (with good reason) as ‘the scariest game ever made’. Also available is Parsec Production’s second game, ‘Where Am I?’, which is a short browser-based game found at http://www.parsecproductions.net/games/whereami.html. Don’t let the fact that it’s a small in-browser game put you off though, it is just as scary as Slender and almost as remarkably crafted in scaring the life out of you.

Slender: The Eight Pages is available for free at www.slendergame.com.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent can be found on Steam, Gamer’s Gate, Onlive and loads of other places.

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