Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ve most likely noticed the explosion of the survival horror genre in gaming. When classics like Resident Evil stray from their roots to break free of the limited market appeal of the horror genre, everyone else finally manages to see its appeal. It’s uncanny and somewhat saddening, but the rise in popularity of something like Fricional Games’ Amnesia: The Dark Descent and the accompanying “reaction” videos on YouTube has alerted developers whether AAA or indie that there is now a real place for the truly spooky and terrifying genre; and now they’re really beginning to crack into its potential.
By now anyone even remotely interested in either ARGs like Alex Hall’s Haunted Majora’s Mask story or the ever engaging Marble Hornets ARG will know the story of Slenderman. The lean, faceless, suit-clad giant who appears in the backgrounds of photographs or is stood still staring into your soul from a distance as you turn around. Though he is “Always watching” neither the tales nor the media who use the character have ever really explained
what he does. And perhaps that’s what makes the experience of the tales so chilling. It works in Marble Hornets and it certainly works in a new, free, indie game to recently hit the Internet air waves, Slender.
Assuming to take influence from the Marble Hornets video series, Slender is a simple yet incredibly effective scare quite possibly surpassing that of Amnesia in even its current rough stage. Clambering over a chain-link fence to presumably investigate the story behind the stalking blank man, you’re quickly wandering through a very dark and ominous array of trees looking for the iconic cryptic pages often focused on in the tales.
A silent wonder around the forest and you soon take not of just what to look out for. Anything that stands out in there midst of the trees will most likely harbour one of those crude drawings either introducing newbies to the chilling concepts of the Slenderman or reminding the rest of us just how damn creepy it is. Collect one and soon the atmospheric effect will kick up a notch. Thundering bass will slowly clamber in as to say “It’s coming. Time to brick yourself.” And brick yourself you will as you collect more pages. Of course, it’s a dark forest. The moment you focus on one thing you’ll forget which direction you came from. And that’s when you start to panic and spin your camera around to figure it out. And of course, anyone who knows the tales well enough will instantly realise that’s when it all goes to hell. Turning just a few degrees and you see it. That ominous, silent faceless
giant stood metres behind you. Remember the first rule of the monster and get running. That’s the only advice we can give. It’s a feeling very similar to the monster from Amnesia, but I assure you, the result is a great deal more terrifying. Less jumpy and more psychological torture.
Nobody quit knows what happens when the Slenderman catches it’s prey. All we know is that once it targets you, there’s no getting away. You can escape it for a day or two, sure – maybe a week – but it will never stop showing its face, and you’ll forever be stuck in a state of paranoia fearing every corner and even turning around; and this rough indie game captures the tone of it perfectly to the point where you’re unlikely to boot it up again once you undoubtably fall victim to its expressionless, foreboding implied glare. It’s free (direct download here) and it’s well worth the 30 minutes it takes to grab it and, inevitably, run away from it. It doubles up as a fantastic creation to sit your unsuspecting little cousins in front of when they come round to
bug see you.