My experience with Slender

If you are a video game nerd you probably have heard about the game Slender. If not... it's a first person horror-adventure game that is based on the 3D-engine Unity. The player spawns in a dark forest, only equipped with a flashlight and the ability to sprint for a short duration, and he is given the task to collect 8 pages that are scattered in this forest.

Over the past weeks I have read from people (mostly on 9gag.com) of how scary this game is. Many say it's even scarier than my favorite Amnesia - The Dark Descent. Two days ago I downloaded the game. I waited until night and played it. I was walking around the forest for a couple of minutes. Because I had a slight clue of what to expect I had more and more tension build up inside me, but the problem was, nothing ever happened! I was waiting for the big scare, for this tension to finally be released and NOTHING happened. I exited the game after merely 3 minutes. Somehow 'nothing' was already too much to take.

Later I found out that I misunderstood the controls. I tried to use the Enter key to collect pages, wheareas in truth I should have used the left mouse button.

That night I had a dream about the game I had only played for 3 minutes. In that dream I was playing a video game trying to collect pages inside a building while trying to stay away from dreadful tentacle monsters and their master. I had not seen any hentai on that day (at least not the tentacle type). The urban/internet legend says the Slender Man is a creature that abducts children. He is depicted as a very tall man in a suit with unnaturally big limbs. I guess that is where the tentacle dream comes from. Unfortunately I don't remember the end of the dream. Usually I go into inception mode whenever things get interesting :(

Yesterday I was too scared to play the game.

Half an hour ago I tried to man up and give it another try. I don't know how I can describe the game without giving too much away. You see, the problem is, the game doesn't offer very much. The forest isn't very big but relatively there is even less to do. The graphics aren't nice to look at. The game lives mostly by a creepy atmosphere and its shocking effects. If I had to review the game like any other game it would probably score in the 60%-75% range.

If you want your own virgin experience to be untainted then skip the following two paragraphs.

As I was playing the game I was feeling lost all the time (as I am supposed to feel, I understand). I think I was runnning around the edges of the forest all the time, orientating on the fence. From time to time there would be a clearance with a building, some stones or a vehicle. More than 5 minutes had past and I still had not found any pages. Suddenly there would be a continuing booming sound, like a timer telling me I would have to hurry. And all of a sudden this guy would appear in front of me. I lost the game with 0/8 pages collected.

I immediately gave it another go. Finally I collected my first page between some tanks. Then the booming sound would appear but no Slender Man for some time. I got my second page after more than 5 minutes. from a gameplay perspective I was already bored at that point. But on the other hand tension was building up inside me, wanting to get out. Then Slender Man would appear but I had managed to evade him. I got my third and fourth page around 10-15 minutes into the game. I believe that Slender Man appears more often the more pages I got. After the fourth page I could feel his breath on my neck. He was always so close to me that it wasn't fun anymore. I decided to walk right into him to finish it.

I could go on about how the game could be improved by making the forest more linear, and adding some narrative, but my conclusion is that this game, like Dear Esther, is not meant as a classic video game. Dear Esther tried to be an audio-visual book. Slender is a test of human fears. The fear of the dark, the fear of being lost, the fear of being followed. In that it succeeds, but in my humble opinion, Amnesia is scarier.


You can get Slender here, for free.

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