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Slender: A Game to Play in the Dark
Turn the lights off and let the dark settle around you. Turn up the volume on your speakers or earphones and start to explore the darkened wood with only your flashlight and your courage. But beware. The Slender Man lurks in this forest. Eight papers are what you’re looking for. If he catches you, it’s all over. The more you learn about him, the more aggressive he’ll become in trying to stop you from learning about him.
Maybe you’ve missed the Slender Man phenomenon. It started out as a contest entry for ‘paranormal pictures’ on the Something Awful forum. Soon after, other forum members began to pick up the mythology, and the Slender Man’s legend started to grow. There are now blogs, youtube channels and tons of artwork featuring the Slender Man. He appeared first in photographs, where he lurks in the background, never quite distinct, just visible enough to make the viewer uneasy. The only thing most people who know about the Slender Man are sure of is that you don’t ever want to find out for yourself what happens if he catches you.
In Slender, all your character has to keep back the dark is a flashlight. Turning it off both conserves battery power and lets you hide a little better from your Slender adversary. You’re looking for eight sheets of paper, all of which tell you a little something about the Slender Man. Each time you pick up a piece of paper, your chances of seeing the Slender Man increase. When you’ve got most of them, he’ll be quite close to you all the time. You won’t be able to look over your shoulder and not see him.
Slender is a game of a few simple controls, which is good, because you don’t have time for a lot of complicated button mashing when you’re trying to avoid the Slender Man. The challenge of Slender doesn’t lie in mastering the controls but there is an advantage to figuring out how to maximize things like battery life and sprinting stamina. The only way you know a resource is running low is that they’re less effective when you use them later. Wandering the woods in the dark is bad, but wandering the woods trying to find the last page with a flashlight that barely lights the path is somehow worse. I ended up leaning toward the screen, trying to make out things in the dying flashlight beam, which made the sudden appearance of the Slender Man that much more startling, because I was concentrating hard to see what was in the woods.
Slender doesn’t leave you completely without warning when the Slender Man approaches your position (or hiding spot.) Sound is your friend in Slender, though the lonely thump of your footsteps and the night sounds of the forest may not be all that comforting. Once you pick up the first page, there’s a steady drum/heartbeat-like noise that starts and continues until the end. Static noises mark the nearness of the Slender Man, so if the noise is getting louder than he is getting closer. Coming face to no-face with the Slender Man may end the game or it may just deafen you with static if you’re quick enough to get away. Slender knows how to pour on the atmosphere And make you feel isolated and vulnerable. The ten locations appear slowly as you approach each one, almost as if they are forming from the darkness itself. Each location in Slender is creepy and yet completely normal, maybe because they leave the player with unanswered questions. Why exactly are the doors on those trucks hanging open instead of just being shut? What’s the deal with the rock formation, and why is that one massive tree so much more twisted than the rest of the forest? Slender doesn’t provide answers, but sometimes filling in the blanks yourself can be more interesting.
Slender is a short game. It can be very short, depending on how good (or bad) you are at ducking the Slender Man. But it feels like the right length for the material. Too much information about the Slender Man would destroy his mystery and thus his power to create fear. The scares in Slender are jump scares, but without the atmosphere that the game creates, no kind of scare would work. There’s no scare like the first time you turn the corner and find the Slender Man waiting for you, but the Slender Man retains his creepiness throughout the game, even managing to startle though you know he’s probably there. Sometimes that knowledge makes the fear worse. And that just makes the game even more fun.
There are links for the game in various places, but some end up not working. So far, the one I’ve found to be best is this one: http://forums.unfiction.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=35488