Monday, July 2, 2012

Slender Man Fan Games

Ah! After ten thousand years, I’M FREE! It’s time to CONQUER THE EARTH!

*Ahem* Anyways.

In the past month, we’ve had two Slender Man games posted to the Slender Man section of Unfiction. The games, titled Slenderman and Slender, are both independently developed games which can be freely downloaded online.

In Slenderman, you investigate a house and a forest, collecting tapes and items while fighting proxies and avoiding the Slender Man. The graphics are low-tech, but the game still creates an appropriately dark atmosphere, and has many shout outs to Marble Hornets.

As for Slender, in it you are trapped inside a heavily wooded area, where you try to collect 8 pages while simultaneously avoiding the Slender Man. In terms of graphics, it’s superior to Slenderman, though the gameplay is much more minimalistic. There’s no proxies, no items apart from the pages, just someone in a forest trying to stay alive as the Slender Man hunts them.

As both are free and only take a short time to play, I highly recommend checking each out. Links are provided at the end of the post. However, I also feel that by comparing the two, we can take lessons from the games which can inspire future games/stories.

To begin bluntly, I believe Slender to be the superior game to Slenderman. While Slenderman is not without merit, it fails to be a frightening experience. Slender, on the other hand, is something I’d put on par with Amnesia: The Dark Descent in terms of how much it frightened me (possibly even higher than Amnesia, as Amnesia ceased to be scary for me the moment I realized I could predict exactly where the next scare would be based guessing where I’d put the next scare were I making the game.) The question then is, why? Why does Slender manage to be more frightening than Slenderman?

The biggest reason is because in Slender, being caught by Slendy means an instant loss, whereas Slenderman is relatively consequence free: if Slendy catches you, all that happens is you get teleported back to the start. As soon as you learn this, Slendy stops being something to be frightened of, and turns into an annoyance. There was a point in my first playthrough where the I saw Slendy approaching me as I was trying to turn a gate crank. Had it been a game where being caught by Slendy carried any consequences, this would have been an extremely tense moment, as I tried to turn the crank while keeping an eye on Slendy so that he didn’t teleport forward and catch me. Instead, I just ignored him, and kept turning the crank until he caught me. Then I ran from the start point where I’d been taken back to the gate crank, finished turning it, and kept on playing. Compare this to Slender, where my reaction upon seeing Slender Man getting near me tends to be, and I quote, “OH FUCK FUCK FUCK JESUS CHRIST FUCK RUN FASTER RUN FUCKING FASTER FUCK WHERE’D HE GO WHERE THE FUCK OH FUCK HE'S RIGHT THERE FUCK FUCK.” (Yes, this game will turn you into Noah Maxwell.)

In addition, Slenderman’s inclusion of proxies doesn’t help the game much. If you’ve seen Marble Hornets, you probably won’t be surprised at any of the places where they jump out. And even when they do manage to catch you, as with being caught by Slendy, it’s no big deal. All you need do is mash the spacebar to wrestle them to the ground and kill them. They’re just another minor obstacle to easily overcome on your way to the next objective. The game has no risk, and therefore I couldn’t find any reason to worry about any of the things which were intended to frighten me.

And while I hope to avoid spoiling the games as much as I can, the ending of Slenderman was… odd. Out of all the possible ways they could end a horror game, they went with what might have been one of the least frightening.

Still, I don’t mean to discourage you from playing Slenderman. It does have its good moments, and of course, it’s free. But if I’m going to uphold a game as doing an excellent job of creating horror with only minimal gameplay, Slender is going to be my top pick.

Useful Links
Green Meteor Team: Slenderman:
Slender Unfiction Thread (With Download):