Best of 2012: Slender: The Eight Pages
Starting this week I’ll be counting down the top three games of 2012, leading up to choice for the best game released this year. Please keep in mind that I can’t talk about a game unless I’ve played it so if your favorite game is left out, then most likely I didn’t play it.
Slender is an independent horror game that was released in June for the PC. There isn’t a better antithesis of the big-budget triple-A video game than Slender: The Eight Pages. Slender was not released so much as it was discovered. There was no marketing campaign, and it’s free. It’s a first-person horror game and a damn good one at that.
The player controls a young child in the middle of a forest at night. Visibility is very poor as a dense fog shrouds the forest. You have no weapons or items except for a flashlight, with a draining battery, that can be turned on and off. You can briefly sprint but the distance you can run lessens with use. Upon starting the game, the player is told to collect eight pages.
The player will discover several landmarks throughout the forest including a concrete tunnel, an abandoned building, and a rock formation to name a few. There are ten landmarks in total, there will be a page in eight of them. The pages themselves depict hastily drawn messages ranging from cryptic warnings to panicked scribbles. Sooner or later the player will eventually encounter the game’s only enemy; a tall faceless creature in a dark suit known only as the Slender Man.
The Slender Man pursues the player from start to finish. The aggressiveness of his pursuit increases as the player collects more pages (or if enough time passes). Looking at the Slender Man results in static appearing on the screen, if the player does not quickly look away the game will end in a burst of static, and a close up of Slender Man’s expressionless face. This can also occur if he gets behind the player and turns them around. The Slender Man never visible moves, but instead appears anywhere the player isn’t looking. This is his greatest weapon, as the Slender Man is potentially around every corner.
Slender is a very difficult game. Collecting all eight pages isn’t impossible; there are plenty of people who have done it though I am not one of them. Once all eight pages are collected, nothing actually happens. The only difference is that when Slender inevitably kills the player, the credits roll. If Slender has one flaw is that it doesn’t offer anything in it’s ending, but in a game like Slender, mystery is more important than story. Why the player is in the forest, why you must collect eight pages and why the Slender Man tries to kill you is never explained. This ambiguity is Slender’s greatest strength. There is no explanation nor should there be.
Like a true horror game, Slender exploits the long list of things the player can’t do, creating the a truly terrifying experience. If you haven’t yet played Slender: The Eight Pages, there’s little excuse, it is a truly paralyzing horror game and one that I recommend to everyone. If you wish to download Slender: The Eight Pages the link is right below (it has very low system requirements).