Some people out there are pretty messed up. I’ve see a lot of creepypastas about games, like the Luna Game series and all the BEN/Haunted Majora’s Mask videos. These stories can put an uneasy feeling in your stomach.
Then, along comes a game that makes you afraid to go out at night…
My favorite horror creature of the 21st century is Slender Man.
Monsters have been known to chase down people and rip them to shreds. That’s what monsters do. Not Slender Man. It doesn’t hunt you in the way that a werewolf would. He watches you. He stands motionless, staring at you – but not with eyes. There are no eyes. No mouth. Completely featureless. The malevolence behind a blank face watching you is unnerving. Exposure to him causes the victim to become deathly ill (Slendersickness) and digital devices to become glitched and distorted.
But he does chase you. In the worse way.
He doesn’t move when you see him. You run away, and he’s instantly behind you. Unmoving. Staring without eyes.
The game Slender: The Eight Pages (AKA, Slender) by Parsec Productions captured the deep fear behind the Slender Man mythos. The game is in first-person perspective, and it gives you a flashlight with a minimal battery, a sprint that recharges very slowly, and several structures laid out in a dark forest. At these structures are 8 pages you must collect. With every page, the game becomes more intense, as the Slender Man becomes more erratic. More violent.
This game reminds you why you should be afraid of the dark.
This game scares the living hell out of me. Reaction videos online are absolutely hysterical. It’s fun to play, and really brings back the horror genre – it’s not that “pop-out-surprise!” you see in games like Resident Evil and Dead Space. This game has you completely disarmed, and makes you afraid to progress. It’s ingenious, and is probably my favorite indie game out there right now.
But it’s worthy of note that this game is perfect in the way it’s balance of Grpahics and Gameplay was executed, but the game is that 1 out of 10 that pull this off right. Lots of horror games go for the “heavy on the art and details, minimal on core gameplay” feel, and some are just, “<sarcasm>OK, another monster popped out a window. Great.</sarcasm>” This game excels with its simplicity, but if you were to change the lighting and replace everything with boxes, what kind of game is it then? How would it make you feel?
This game utilizes its looks to get you immersed and fearful – and it does an awesome job. But think back to games back in SNES days – the “horror” games back then were games that instilled panic and fear through gameplay – enemies that were smart or overwhelming, puzzles that were challenging and had some kind of panic element to them (time limit, monster horde, etc). Those games made you feel rushed and on your toes. They made you think before moving ahead, unsure of what obstacle you’d have to come across next. And no matter how that game looked, it still would always get you to that panicked state of mind.
Today, more games are trying to blur the lines between “Graphical Terror” and “Gameplay Panic” to more-or-less relative success. Bioshock pulls this off well by placing you in creepy atmospheres with little lighting and ghoulish enemies, while having you solve puzzles in the middle of bullet-hells. Slender pulls this off to some degree as well – the graphics are amazing, yes. But you also need to stay alive while finding sheets of paper, and no weapon. The panic lies within your ability to prioritize “find the pages” and “run from Slender Man.” Its gameplay is perfect for what it’s trying to accomplish, and its art really enhances the overall experience.
Go play this game. Play it in your living room, at midnight, with some headphones on and the lights off. Then, once you took all you can take, I dare you to walk back to your bedroom in your dark house without sprinting like a little girl.
UPDATE – Sep. 25, 2012 – IT COMES…
A Sequel has been announced. Slender: The Arrival
- The Terrifying ‘Slenderman’ Goes from Meme to Free Horror Game [Video] (kotaku.com)
- Slender (pwrcords.com)
- Slender Comes to Horrific Life (escapistmagazine.com)
- PAR Editorial: Slender creator Mark Hadley talks Amnesia, H.P. Lovecraft, music, and how to get horror right (penny-arcade.com)
- ‘Slender’ is a Superb Slice of Horror (Moving Pixels) (popmatters.com)
- Slender: The Arrival is the follow up to Slender: The Eight pages, first screenshots (pcgamer.com)