Monday, July 30, 2012

Game Review! SLENDER

     Some games are just plain hard to review. It's hard to hold up these games to a scale, and measure them, because they were not meant to fit a scale, but to be their own thing. There are lots of games like that. You could call Minecraft a game like that. No goal, just what you make it.

     Keeping that in mind, let's jump to a brief tangent. Most of the internet-savvy out there are familiar with the memes of the internet. Viral jokes that are passed all around, they show the interests of a culture spawned on a new frontier. So we all know what I'm going to talk about now. The Slenderman is a mythological creature created for a photoshop contest. He appears as a tall man wearing a suit with incredibly long limbs and no face. According to the legends, the Slenderman picks a victim and stalks him/her until he kills them or they kill themselves. He quickly gained web-wide fame and became the subject of many a creepypasta (short horror stories circulated around the internet). That was about four years ago, and the Slenderman is still going strong. So strong, in fact, that developer Parsec Games made a game about him. Enter: SLENDER.

     From the outside, SLENDER looks like the most basic game. In fact, there doesn't appear to be anything special at all. Don't let that discourage you. Slender is the scariest video game I've ever played, and some would say in existence. What makes the game so scary? Let's dive right in.

     When you boot up Slender, you find yourself in the middle of the woods with nothing but a flashlight. The game then tells you to collect 8 pages. Simple enough, right? What a first time player doesn't know (unless he's researched the game) is that the Slenderman is chasing you. From the moment you collect your first page, the Slenderman is hot on your trail. Stop for too long and he'll catch you. In fact, even time you turn around, he's there. You may not be able to see him at first, but after 2 or 3 pages, you know he's there. If you turn around, you might see him. DO NOT LOOK AT THE SLENDERMAN. This will result in game over. It's best for you to just sprint away. Part of what's scary is, you never see him move. If you turn around and he's there, he'll just stand there. He won't give chase until you can't see him. Another thing that ratchets up the horror is the sound of this game. Unlike games such as Resident Evil or Amnesia: The Dark Descent, where you can hear monsters crawling around in air vents or right behind the wall, the Slenderman makes no noise at all. You don't hear him chasing you, or breathing, you hear nothing but yourself; and what the game throws in there. Each time you get a page something is added to the background. Your heartbeat, a dissonant chord, static, Giygas style music, it's all there, tormenting you. Each tree limb, stick, far off object becomes the Slenderman to you, and it's all your imagination.

     To tell the truth I absolutely despise horror. I hate scary movies, scary books, and for the most part scary games, and I've played a host of scary games but this one takes the cake. The sheer amount of disturbia caused by this game is too much for most people to handle, and I doubt I'll get too much sleep tonight. All that said, SLENDER is... well, great. If I were to rate this game using a measuring stick entitled "How scary you are" then it would get a perfect 10, maybe a 10.1. However, like a mentioned earlier, it's hard to seriously review a game like this so I have to seriously say:

     I have no idea what to rate this game.

     It accomplishes what it wants to perfectly, but looking at it from a game point of view, it seems... I just don't know. I'm not even sure if this is a game, it's more of an experience. So, like my good friends at Toonami did, I give SLENDER a

??? out of 10

     SLENDER is free, and available for Mac and PC. One last word of advice: DO NOT PLAY ALONE. Just... don't do it, man.