Slender: The Eight Pages

  • Genre: Psychological Horror
  • Developer: Parsec Productions
  • Platform: OS X, Windows
  • Release Date: June 2012
  • Version Reviewed: PS3

After the franchise buffet of 2012, I thought it would be nice to kick off the New Year with a wee indie game review for a change. So let’s take a look at one that got everybody talking: Slender: The Eight Pages.

Press Play and this game has one simple introduction: “Collect 8 pages”. No preamble, no storyline, just words on a screen before you’re left alone in a deserted forest with a flashlight and a purpose. Right, off you go then.

As you take your first-person steps it becomes apparent that this forest is quietly malevolent. The darkness is intrusive against your weak beam of light and all you can make out for a long time are hundreds of trees and the sound of your own feet. You walk without a plan or a map, trying to fathom where the path lies until you stumble haphazardly onto your first page of white paper, mostly out of dumb luck. You even think this might be easy, you only need seven more of them, right?

But there is absolutely no clue as to where the rest of the pages lie. The wilderness is pitch dark and full of trees and you can barely make out a footpath to follow. Then there comes that inevitable sinister turn where you realise why this is a psychological horror…

There is a man in the woods. The Slender Man. You know from the second you first spot him lurking in the dark that he is following you everywhere around the map, and simply appears anytime he wants. A crackle of static corrupting your screen acts as your only detector to his presence, and the stark contrast of this sudden noise scares you into action. And for good reason, for should you find yourself in front of the silent Slender Man for more than a few seconds, you’re dead and start all over again. Simple and brutal, so get a move on.

I have to confess that I had an absolute ball ducking and diving to avoid this nasty. With the lights off and the sound up, I was eating my heartbeat every few minutes and urged to carry on playing with masochistic fascination. There’s no fluff to drag out the experience, it just stalks you and maims you for the entire time the clock is running and its marvellous.

As far as aesthetics go, do not be fooled by the archaic simplicity of the graphics, either. Remember the early days of Silent Hill? When limitations in design forced creators to be clever with atmospheric fog because they didn’t have the capacity to load expansive game environments? The genius of overcoming imposed limitations like this shall forever be extoled in my eyes as one of the greatest superiorities of early horror games. It’s a humble practice, admitting your boundaries and embracing them, but one that the likes of Slender: The Eight Pages utilises like a boss.

Pausing for a moment, let me just say that the locations of the eight pages would be my grievance with this indie title. Your blind search around the unmarked map can become tedious and with mister mental growing more relentless with every page you pick up, it’s only a matter of time before you meet a sticky end. But after all that is what makes the game notorious, turning its completion into a badge of honour that communities all over the Internet have been falling over themselves to achieve (with some amusing video diary results).

Slender: The Eight Pages is a challenge. For anyone who has a spare ten minutes and wants a bite-sized thrill ride, then go get this game. The bonus is that this title is also completely FREE, thanks to selfless creator Mark Hadley. So I challenge you to attempt all eight pages and let us know about it. Download directly from the Parsec Productions website and check out the upcoming sequel on their homepage while you’re at it.

It’s bloody hard, and not good for nerves. So best of luck n’ that.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

One Comment on “Slender: The Eight Pages”

  1. Matt Blythe says:

    Gah!!! My hard drive is completely stacked. Now I’m going to have to decide what to delete to get this. Damn you Jones!

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