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Slender: The Eight Pages (PC) artwork

Slender: The Eight Pages (PC) review

"When I think about my favorite fear moments in video games, the ones that come immediately to mind are those in which Iíve had no ability to fight. Escaping from the Nemesis in Raccoon City; pounding my way through rooms in the Himuro mansion while being pursued by the unstoppable Kirie; desperately fleeing horrifying visions in Amnesia; these define what I look for in a true horror experience. Those moments are all Slender is."

You wake up in the woods in the darkest hours of the night with only a flashlight and the instructions ďfind eight pages.Ē You wander for a while down a dirt path--you could veer off into the thick trees, but the forest is more ominous than mysterious. Your flashlight creates bouncing shadows that make the branches seem like they are reaching out for you. So you stick to the path and eventually you come to something. Maybe itís a brick wall, placed obtusely in the middle of the path. Or maybe itís a dank public washroom, the kind youíd expect to find at a poolside but not in the middle of, well, wherever you are.

On the wall is a page. You take it. And thatís when the heartbeat starts. It wonít stop for the rest of the game. It will get louder, it will get faster, and when itís at its fastest you know that HE is near. Your only option is to avoid HIM and keep collecting the pages. With each page you collect, HE will grow smarter and more feverish in his pursuit. HIS only goal is to catch you. You cannot hurt him. You cannot slow him down. He moves quicker in the dark.

And your flashlight is beginning to dim.

Slender is relentless. It is the most relentless survival horror game I have ever played. It falls in the same vein as Amnesia in that you are being chased by something you can only run from, but even Amnesia had safe zones. There is no safety in Slender. There is nowhere HE wonít chase you, no save points, no ways to continue your game. Once you collect that first page, you will be spending the next hour of your life running. If you see static on your screen, youíd better change direction: thatís the first sign HEís appeared somewhere in front of you, in the darkness.

The game shouldnít feel claustrophobic, with its open outdoor setting, but it does. You feel like a rat in a maze. The maze is created by your panic as you quickly keep turning away from anywhere with even a hint of static, unwittingly boxing yourself into a corner. The maze is also defined by the limited aura of your flashlight, which always seems to illuminate just enough for you to see a glimpse of your pursuer out of the corner of your eye, or just enough of a tree branch to look like something reaching out to grab you.

The pages are easy to recognize, once youíve spotted them. But when youíve got that heartbeat pounding in your ears and static creeping into the corners of the screen and then you have to stop to search an area for a tiny little page--well, itís moments like this which really make Slender a special experience. This is when your brain enters that primitive mode of desperation, screaming at you to abandon the page and just run; run as fast and as far as you can into the woods before that THING catches up with you. This feeling never lets up. You run blindly until youíve got your courage back and then try to figure out where you came from.

This simplicity can be frustrating. After all, not being able to save and quit the game means you have to commit whenever you want to tackle Slender and itís one of the main reasons I havenít finished the game (the other ten or twenty reasons involve not having enough clean underwear). It is also this same simplicity which makes Slender an incredibly satisfying horror experience. It gets at the root of the genre, where the fear comes from being placed in a situation for which your only answer is to run.

When I think about my favorite fear moments in video games, the ones that come immediately to mind are those in which Iíve had no ability to fight. Escaping from the Nemesis in Raccoon City; pounding my way through rooms in the Himuro mansion while being pursued by the unstoppable Kirie; desperately fleeing horrifying visions in Amnesia; these define what I look for in a true horror experience.

Those moments are all Slender is. Itís a simple first person game of ďkeep awayĒ made terrifying by an intelligent use of graphics and sound. It might not be so scary if there wasnít that constant pounding heartbeat broken only by the jarring cacophony when HE appears right in front of you. It should be easy to remember this is a video game and to snap yourself out of it, but the lack of actual visibility partners up with a very clear static effect as a constant clue to your pursuerís proximity. It creates a jarring confusion of signals. It shrieks directly at the animal part of our brain, telling us that if we stop moving, even for a moment, weíll be caught by something horrible. And then, once itís got us moving, it makes sure that THING jumps out from the next corner.

Itís a little too unnerving to be fun for me. But itís a wonderful study of fear that you can get for free for either Mac or PC from this website. And it continues to get updated fairly often, with new ways to play after beating the game and (god help us) harder modes. It's hard to turn away from the house of horrors when the price of admission is free.


zippdementia's avatar
Community review by zippdementia (October 08, 2012)

Zipp has spent most of his life standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox there. Sometimes he writes reviews and puts them in the mailbox.

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If you enjoyed this Slender: The Eight Pages review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

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zippdementia posted October 08, 2012:

EDIT: Changed one of the photos.
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TryHard posted October 08, 2012:

Yeah, no. Sorry, zipp, but this thing is about as frightening as the creepypasta it's based on- i.e., not frightening in the least.
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Suskie posted October 08, 2012:

I hope that guy isn't RunningFree, because that was disappointingly mild by his standards.

On topic, now I have an excuse to post this video.

Really good review, by the way. The footage I've seen actually makes it look like something I wouldn't enjoy, but you've convinced me to check it out.
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zippdementia posted October 08, 2012:

That video is excellent, Suskie, and I thank you most deeply for introducing me to it. I don't know why, but I do find Bane's voice and particularly his diction hilarious in all circumstances out of context.

Yeah, it feels it shouldn't be that scary or even very impressive. I mean, the graphics are not great, the premise is fairly thin (no pun intended), the challenge almost feels randomóbut every time I play it, I end up swearing out loud and losing hope.

And FUCK that bathroom. You'll know what I mean when you get there.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted October 08, 2012:

I'm pretty sure it is RunningFree. It wouldn't the first time he's appropriated my old Caligari icon.
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zippdementia posted October 09, 2012:

Ah, Caligari. Did anyone ever see the insane 1989 sequel? Chinchila Chinchila Chinchila...

Cause you won't let me shiver-r-r-r-r-r-r
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Suskie posted October 09, 2012:

Hey, so, I gave this game a run tonight. Thoughts.

First, the positive: This game actually, genuinely gave me chills. It utilizes just enough atmospheric effects and sound cues that its jump-in-your-seat scares feel more like buildup-and-release than cheap shocks. I know this is a generic thing to say about a horror game, but it really does need to be experienced in the right conditions: in a dark room, with the headphones on. You really need to be entrenched in Slender for its scares to work, and they do.

My problem with the game -- and it probably won't surprise you to hear me say this -- is that it doesn't really serve any higher purpose. I did some reading, and not only is impossible to "win" Slender (since you can't actually defeat him, as I suspected), but the pages are more or less a placebo since the game's difficulty ramps whether you're collecting them or not. To play it again knowing that is to subject yourself to discomfort without really accomplishing anything. That's unsatisfying and I don't really see myself booting up Slender again anytime soon.

So, very cool (and frequently effective) experiment, but not much of a game.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted October 09, 2012:

That's more or less my complaint, Suskie, except that I actually like to be scared. I think my main reason for liking Slender is that it's a quick fix for delivering scares. I don't have to start up and go through a whole playthrough of Silent Hill or Fatal Frame to be scared shitless; or worse yet, starting a new game and not finishing it.

Just the same, I think I would have liked this game a lot more were it more fleshed out.
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darketernal posted October 09, 2012:

Good review, though I would rate it far lower. To me it was just a boring game that I tried one day. In the end I ran into Slender Man on purpose just to be done with it. To each his own, I guess.
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zippdementia posted October 09, 2012:

No, to be perfectly honest, I agree with you Suskie that's it not an enjoyable game. Like I point out, I don't enjoy it. But it is, as Joe says, a quick fix for fear and an interesting study of how to make it happen. I also think it is a game that would lose some of what it's about if it got even an iota more complex, like adding a story or a point or an ending. It's just a game a keep away that scares the piss out of you.

That said, they are remaking it into a much more advanced and fleshed out experience that will also, undoubtedly, cost actual money to play.
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TryHard posted October 09, 2012:

I hope that guy isn't RunningFree, because that was disappointingly mild by his standards.

I'm pretty sure it is RunningFree. It wouldn't the first time he's appropriated my old Caligari icon.

Aaand this about sums up why the site is dying.
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Sise-Neg posted October 09, 2012:

After the most recent update of Slender the game suddenly became nigh-impossible to complete. I've gotten 6 pages at most before the douche just pops up right behind me. And yes Zipp, screw the bathrooms!!! I made it a point to get the bathroom page first after the first two times Slender cornered me in there. I keep playing it because I want to unlock the other modes the game has that only unlock when you beat it once, but I've yet to overcome that darn guy.
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zippdementia posted October 09, 2012:

I've been pretty good at dodging the guy and I've gotten pretty close, especially the times where I do the bathroom early on, but two things inevitably kill me.

One, I must admit that I have been so shocked before by his sudden appearance and that damn music that plays when he shows up that I've dropped the mouse off my desk.

Two, and this is by far the most often occurrence, I get so worked up by the constant jump-out scares and the feeling that I shouldn't stay too long in one place, that I lose my way in the woods or get confused while searching at a landmark for the page and end up taking too long. He does get faster and more persistent if you wait too long, while your stamina drops and your flashlight begins to show less of an area.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted October 11, 2012:

Wonderful read, Zipp! I like that you reference similar scenes from other games, and also talk about the psychological aspects of the game.

As far as "fleshing it out," I didn't necessarily mean adding a story or making it more complex. I think adding more modes while keeping it simple and surreal would be nice.

As far as story goes, though, the game kinda has a story already. I think it borrows the concept of collecting notes from the web series Marble Hornets, which is a found-footage web show dealing with a couple college filmmakers who run afoul of Slender Man/The Operator. I'll leave it at that.

See Here and here.

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