By Brian Lieberman
I don’t want to play this game anymore; it scared the headphones off of me. Seriously, my first playthrough resulted in my headphones being thrown violently away from my head.
Slender, out from the folks over at Parsec Productions, is based on the popular webseries Marble Hornets. Slender employs a minimalist approach to the gaming experience, and much of Slender’s horror lies in this very simplicity. The game opens with the sound of footsteps on a dirt path and the rattle of a chain link fence as the title sequence rolls. The sound of crickets chirping and the hooting of owls imply nighttime. Then, a flashlight turns on and the only instructions in the game are given. They read, simply, “collect all 8 pages”. Where these pages might be, what they might say, why they need to be collected, and what they might mean is all unknown and unexplained. Why the character came to be in a dark forest with nothing but a flashlight is also unexplained.
It is almost awe-inspiring, the ease with which Slender is able to inspire dread. The game only consists of walking or jogging. Eventually, either page is found or Slender Man appears. The story-driven nature of other horror titles such as Dead Space is completely thrown out, leaving a bare-bones game that is generally unimpressive and boring. There is neither story nor reason; there is simply an ambiguously defined goal that makes Slender seem uninspired, unimpressive, and less like a game and more like a chore.
Devoid of storyline, the game relies primarily on ambiance to build a sense of fear. Slender’s game environment is comprised of derelict buildings, dense forest, and dirt paths. With the environment cast in shadow, the flashlight becomes a circle of terror rather than a beacon of hope. Light becomes as much the enemy as the darkness, each sweep of the flashlight could uncover something scary or unexpected, which invariably comes in the faceless form of Slender Man.
Turn the wrong way or walk around the wrong corner and Slender Man appears and drains you of your sanity, or at least that is the explanation given on the website for the game. Really, it just seems as though the camera fills with static, and the faceless head of Slender Man appears on screen before it fades to the black “game over” screen. It seems as if there is only a second or two of allotted response time before he “gets” you. In this regard, the game is often as infuriating as it is scary.
Slender is most definitely not for everyone. The game relies heavily on prior knowledge of who Slender Man is. Thankfully, a few minutes on Google will tell you everything you need in order to be scared senseless while playing this game.
Most of the fun of this game is derived from watching other poor souls play it. I enjoy watching reaction videos more than I enjoy playing it myself. Gameplay itself is very limited and boring. If walking around a dark forest, looking for pieces of paper sounds super exciting to you, jump on this game. If that sounds pointless and boring, enjoy a few minutes on YouTube watching other people jump and scream. There really is not too much to this game, and it plays like those old flash games that you scared your friends with back when everyone clicked every link given to them over AIM. I almost feel bad; talking about a free game like this, but Slender is just that boring. I am completely uninterested in playing it further, and I have no motivation to find all eight pages. I’d rather just search for a video of the endgame rather than slog through actual gameplay.
Brian Lieberman is a contributing writer for TheButtonMash.com
Jeff, one of the writers over at Greyfox Productions likes the game so much he been playing it nonstop since it came out. We hadn’t heard from him in a while so our director Bren went over to his house to find out what was up.
Greyfox Productions will be helping The Button Mash film our upcoming shorts so check back soon for more!