Originally titled just Slender, Slender: The Eight Pages should be pretty well-known at this point. You’ve probably heard a lot about the game, but these are my thoughts and my verdict on the game. Indie games are rarely of fully professional quality, and you can bet I can see room for improvement with Slender, but we’ve been in need of a minimalist horror game for a long time, so we’ll see what we got. I first decided to play Slender when I heard that the game was supposed to be scary as hell. I expected a spooky game. So what did I get? Read on to find out. Here’s the game’s official site. Download is still down, but you can find mirrors all over the internet.
Forewarning here: You’re going to find Slender really, really boring if you need action or complexity to make a game interesting for you. The game is slow, and it’s effectively Pac-Man in 3D. The game is spent wandering through a forest and its various landmarks, trying to collect eight pages before Slender Man can catch you. You’re Pac-Man, the pages are your dots, Slender Man is a ghost, and the forest is your maze. Pac-Man. But the game is still excellent, as long as you’re into games for more than action and/or complexity.
Slender is killer in terms of atmosphere, as I will get to later. The game is highly immersive and tense. Slender Man isn’t likely to attack early on, but as you collect more pages, he gets more and more aggressive. In other words, the game is initially very calm but accelerates into a harrowing chase… and the entire time you’re expecting Slender man to appear. Even if you’re familiar with the game, Slender Man’s movements and behaviors assure that he almost always appears out of nowhere unless you’ve been tracking him while he chases you. This creates a great interplay of tension and jumpy moments that keeps you on edge all the time.
The gameplay is extremely simple, but provokes some degree of thought and planning. Conservation of your stamina and flashlight battery might end up saving your life in the late game. My first session of Slender saw me getting 6 pages, encountering Slender Man, and running from him only to run out of stamina, in the late game where he moves so fast that running is the only way to escape; he caught me from behind. Careful movement is also necessary; if I know Slender Man is close, I avoid entering the building where he can corner me. I don’t turn around and backtrack, instead I circle widely. Studying the map and memorizing routes is also crucial.
The game will definitely have you on the edge of your seat. If you like getting scared, and like a good challenge, you’ll have fun with it.
The game might be a bit overly simple, potentially benefiting from some more complexity or variation, and might also be too difficult for some, with minimal reward and a very simple experience. These are its only real flaws in terms of gameplay, however. The flaws might overshadow the good points in the game for some people. For others they won’t effect the game much; I was satisfied.
+ Tense and scary
+ Highly atmospheric
+ Some planning is rewarded
– Shallow, lacking variation
– Very difficult
Not much to say here. Slender: The Eight Pages is pretty bare-bones in terms of visuals, and its graphics are not that impressive. 3D models and textures look passable, but definitely amateur.
I’m unwilling to give the game an exceedingly low score for it because the game never really looks bad. There is never a clash of elements, or a point where things are hard to look at. It is easy on the eyes, though nothing in it stands out.
A handful of aspects are kind of cool. It’s very dark, which impacts the game while also masking the visuals a bit. The visual effects pertaining to the Slender Man himself are cool: The screen covers in gradual amounts of static when you’re in danger, and when you’re caught, you whirl around and see the Slender Man up close before you it all ends. They’re effective, at least.
Not graphically intensive, but also not graphically offensive.
– Amateur graphics
Not much to say here either, but with the Audio it’s the opposite case from the visuals. The sound side of the game is excellent, leaving nothing to be desired. The game has good ambiance, feeling like a realistic nighttime forest, with a breeze, animals sounding off, and good sound effects for the character. In fact, it’s through sound effects that your character’s identity is hinted at: When running for a long time, your character starts to breath hard and the voice sounds female. Even your reason for being in the woods is hinted at only through audio: You hear your character jump a fence in the beginning when the screen is still black. Great immersion, through and through.
There is no music until you pick up the first page, at which point a deep thudding noise begins, and you’ll hear it for the rest of the game, with more adding onto it the more pages you get. The song is simple, almost stereotypical, but it goes a lot way towards establishing a constant mood that never lets up. As a result of the song, you are always under the impression of immediate danger. As far as I was concerned, what with Slender Man himself making no sound, he was always right behind me. And he probably was.
Slender Man makes no sound, but he has a few audio cues. When you catch sight of him too close to you, there’s a loud sharp noise to signify his presence. The sound is sudden and startling, and I jump almost every time. The static noise that accompanies the same visual effect is just as unsettling, and through both the visual and audio effects, you feel that the harmful influence of Slender Man is tangible; it is effectively your health indicator.
The audio leaves nothing to be desired.
+ Realistic audio
+ Sound hints at setting and character
+ Flawless, atmospheric music
+ Audio cues for threats and status
Slender: The Eight Pages is an incredibly scary game. I said in the beginning that I expected it to be spooky, but I did not expect a game that I would sometimes avoid playing because it’s so scary. It’s a total proof of concept for everything I’ve been saying about horror games for the last few years: Horror needs atmosphere, immersion, and a sense of danger or insecurity, or else it’s not scary. But as a result, ANYTHING can be scary if it has those things. Slender draws you in and makes you feel part of the experience, it sets up tone and setting unbelievably well, and the game is difficult and has a constant threat. Immersion, atmosphere, danger. Otherwise, the game is essentially Pac-Man. Terrifying Pac-Man.
The game is a bit simple and definitely has a lot of room for expansion, but it’s an excellent indie game and absolutely worth playing, especially since it’s free. Something about it keeps it from being truly great and getting a 9 from me, but it’s a wonderful experience regardless. I can’t wait to play Slender: The Arrival (AgentParsec’s next game).
+ Scary, simple, yet deep
– Frustrating, lacks variation, unimpressive graphics