Indie Review: Slender
Slender is a free indie-developed horror game based on the creepy internet phenomenon Slender Man. But how well does a creepy internet icon translate into a game? Read on to find out.
- Worth The Time?Yes, absolutely. Plus it's completely free so you have no excuse.
- Things LovedThe atmosphere is incredible, the sound effects and visuals are really well done, the level is excellently designed, the game is both scary and creepy, it's a genuine horror game, the game is entirely free, it's a fantastic concept with loads of potential, completing the game gives you some amusing rewards, your first few plays are amazing experiences.
- Things HatedYour running speed is quite slow and your character tires quickly which can frustrate rather than increase tension, the lack of direction can make things feel like a chore after a few plays, you can't pause the game.
- RecommendationIf you're looking for a genuine scare, Slender is amazing. It's completely free so there's absolutely no reason I can think of not to recommend this unless you pee your pants easily or if you have a weak heart.
- Name: Slender
- Genre: Horror
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PC, Mac
- Developer: Parsec Productions
- Publisher: Parsec Productions
- Price: Free
- Reviewed On: PC
You can download the game for free here.
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Slender is a horror indie game that is based on the internet phenomenon and creepypasta Slender Man. It’s very simple to play, and completely free to download, so I’d advise you go get it as soon as you’ve finished reading this review. Or better yet, start downloading it now and give this review a read to pass the time while you wait, and get convinced as to why you should play this. Right, so Slender is definitely something I can personally appreciate for its concept alone. I practically never get scared, I’m just very jumpy thanks to my sugar overload. I’m always searching for something real in the horror genre, and I remember that Amnesia: The Dark Descent was quite close to my vision. Now, Slender can quite cleanly join that ranks. It’s a genuine horror game, and if you go into it blind you’ll definitely find your heart racing and your mind trying to tell you that you’re weak, vulnerable and your days are almost numbered. That’s exactly what you want a horror game to do, and Slender does just that.
You start the game out in a dark forest with only a flashlight at your disposal. You’re simply told to collect all eight pages scattered throughout the eerie woods, and then you’re left alone to start moving. The idea of the game is that you need to collect all the pages before Slender Man finds you and kills you. You’ll find the pages in various landmarks located in the depths of the forest, such as a giant tree, huge rocks, the inside of a creepy building and so on. Naturally, there are various locations for the pages so you won’t be stuck forever trying to find just one, although things could become difficult for you if there’s only one or two left to collect, so it would do you well to remember page locations for future reference. However, the catch is that with each page you collect, or as time passes if you take too long, Slender Man becomes more aggressive, powerful and hungry for your head. And in essence, this is what makes the game an absolute blast, and a genuinely intense and creepy experience.
Slender truly uses its sound and atmosphere to create a terrifyingly oppressive atmosphere. The game really looks great visually, and it’s a very atmospheric and creepy experience to have. When you just start out, you’ll hear nothing but the crunching of your footsteps and crickets in the background. However, once you pick up that first page, everything changes, and the game will become progressively more uninviting the closer you get to the finish line. If you spot Slender, a distracting sound will play as your screen begins to distort, and it’s basically your cue to start running. If he gets too close or if you stare at him for too long, he will get you. What makes things worse is that you can’t run forever, as you’ll tire out and need to recharge your stamina, which is not visible as there is no HUD at all. You’ll just hear your character panting and you’ll slow down to a walk. On top of that, your flashlight’s battery doesn’t last forever, and gets recharged while it’s off. But keeping your flashlight off for extended periods of time is suicide, because absolute darkness only makes it easier for Slender Man to find you.
That’s about all there is to the game, and it really is an awesome experience. However, it’s not without its flaws, and I think the concept is what is really special here, because there’s a truckload of potential here for something more. Fortunately, a bunch of modders agree with me and are currently developing Slender: Source which will feature multiplayer. Anyway, back to the game. Firstly, your running speed is quite slow and your character tires quickly, which is annoying. It’s a mistake many games make actually, with regards to stamina. In a horror game, running is far more terrifying, especially when you think you’ve gotten away but you haven’t. Depleting your stamina in seconds does far more to create frustration rather than tension, which hurts the scare factor. Another flaw with the game is that you can’t pause, so pressing escape goes back to the main menu and costs you all of your progress. And this last one is more of a nitpick really, but I feel that the death screen is quite bland, and it would be much more fitting if you heard your character scream or if something else to that effect were to happen.
However, there are two main flaws to the game that I believe are critical, and in reality they wouldn’t be that hard to address. The first is that there is a general lack of direction. Initially this makes things really creepy and does well to make you feel vulnerable and exposed, but later in the game when your overall stamina has decreased and you can barely run, it can become quite an irritation to traverse the level. I feel that any blatant sense of direction, like a map for example, would completely ruin the game, but a subtle sense of it is definitely needed. For example, the game could play a sound effect when you’re near to a page, and the sound can become more intense the closer you get. I feel this would greatly enhance tension, especially when you’re looking nearby you for a page as fast as you can, stuck in the same area, while Slender Man is right on your tail. That would certainly be an extra cause for fear.
The second main flaw with Slender is that because you probably won’t finish the game on your first playthrough and will most likely play the game multiple times, you risk losing the scare factor and becoming agitated that you need to start from the beginning every time you get so close to finishing. I will say that completing the game gives you rather amusing rewards that will definitely make you want to play it again, but the overall issue here is one that I can’t really criticize Slender for, because it still is in its beta stage and has ways to go. However, I feel there are a few ways to address this issue, with one of them being having multiple levels to add variety and new scares. Another way would be to randomly generate the interior of levels, so every play is unique and you’re not just going through the motions.
In the end, there’s no doubt that Slender is a fantastic concept and a great experience, but there’s plenty of potential here for something a lot more. It’s a good thing it’s only a beta, although it’s an awesome one at that. Slender definitely has amazing scope for expansion, but right now you should be playing and appreciating the exciting concept and thinking about all that can be done with it in the future. As for me, I love Slender because it feels like a genuine horror game that can scare its audience in a way that’s quite rare today, and I really won’t be forgetting the one time I swore and threw my headphones off in fright because I had a completely unexpected encounter with the Slender Man.