Video Game: ‘Slender’ (2012) review

‘Slender’ is simply superb, 4/5 stars

Jay Benedict | Editor-in-Chief

Today’s video game market is saturated with finely polished, action-packed adventures with long, complex stories. However, simplicity can sometimes do so much more.

Enter “Slender,” an incredibly short and simple horror game for Mac and PC that was born from an Internet meme. Parsec Productions took the online joke that started in 2009 and turned it into something truly terrifying, yet surprisingly basic.

The premise is simple. You’re placed in a densely wooded park in the middle of the night. Your only objective is to find eight manuscript pages while exploring the pitch-black area with a flashlight, all while avoiding the “slenderman.”

Upon first setting out, you can see far into the distance and the only thing you hear are some crickets and the sound of your feet crunching the grass. As soon as the first page is found, however, fog begins to develop, music imitating a beating heart starts to play, and, if you’re unlucky enough, the slenderman will show up in the flashlight’s beam during your search for the next page.

The Slenderman in "Slender" (Parsec Productions, 2012).

The Slenderman in “Slender” (Parsec Productions, 2012).

The pages are located in buildings, on trees and other objects, and each one has some sort of creepy message scrawled across it. As each page is collected, the tension grows, the fog becomes thicker, the music becomes more intense and your pursuer appears more often. This is the beauty of “Slender;” it creates an atmosphere where your imagination gives you more scares than the actual game does. I knew what I was getting into when I started playing because I had read about the game. As I kept walking and scanning the area in front of me, I kept waiting for him to appear with a sense of dread. When I wasn’t ready for it, he’d appear where I had just been looking, peeking out from behind a tree or standing in a doorway. The screen flickered and I could hear his breath, and it would generally
startle me.

“Slender” succeeds in what it set out to do. It may not boast the best graphics; the trees and grass are acceptable, but they’re nothing spectacular. There really isn’t a storyline to draw you in. A fansite has posted a backstory for the slenderman, describing his stalking and kidnapping of children over the years, but the game itself doesn’t do any of that.

The controls are simple, but those unfamiliar with PC gaming may find some issues with it. Personally, after a couple of tries by myself, I found it more fun to have one person control the flashlight and another control movement. That approach made it more fun to play because of the team aspect, and it allowed me to immerse myself more in the game because of simplifying the gameplay.

Despite everything it lacks, “Slender” is becoming an internet phenomenon. People are recording themselves playing it with their reactions on Youtube, forums are discussing it and well-known gaming sites like IGN and Kotaku are reporting on it. The attention is well-deserved.

“Slender’s” features may be sparse compared to its peers, but it succeeds where blockbuster horror games like the most recent “Silent Hill” and “Resident Evil” games don’t. It creates a believable and terrifying atmosphere that I think people in the Pittsburg area can relate to. It made me think of walking back to my truck in the dark after an evening hunt or working outside late. Seeing that man in the dark would scare the hell out of me. Allowing me to project part of my life into the game’s experience is just one more way that “Slender” succeeds.

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