How To Play Slender: The Eight Pages
Once upon a time, in the land of YouTube, I found some humorous videos of people playing a horror survival game. The game was dark and creepy, with an antagonist that could come straight from your nightmares. This game was called "Slender: The Eight Pages." As I watched people lose this seemingly simple game, I thought to myself, "I should try this. The game can't be that hard." I discovered that this game was a free product from Pasrsec Productions downloadable for both PC and Mac computers. I thought, "Free? If it's free, it probably isn't much of a game." But I wanted to play it or get other unsuspecting people to play it.
About the Game
It is most enjoyable to get people who know nothing of the Slender Man myth to play the game. The main antagonist, Slender Man, is an entity who bears nightmarish, though not grotesque, characteristics. Always wearing a black suit, this tall monster bears no face and impossibly long arms. According the myths surrounding him, the Slender Man is known for kidnapping people, mainly children, who are never heard from again.
Upon booting up the game, the creep factor begins. The main screen for the game presents the options as white words on a black background. The background is a moving collage of scribbled writings and drawings warning the viewer of some thing. The background ambience also presents the horror aspect of the game. And this is all before the fun even begins.
Upon starting, the gamer hears a person walking on leaves while the title of the game comes across the screen. You are then presented with a flashlight view of a forested area with the goal "Collect all 8 Pages" displayed on the screen for a few seconds before disappearing. There are no birds heard, but the wind and crunch of the earth beneath your feet is loud enough. Fog surrounds you, giving the impression that something is there just beyond the visibility.
The controls for the game are simple and can be configured to your preference before the game begins. As the default stands, your movement controls are right, left, forwards, backwards, and sprinting as presented by the keys d, a, w, s, and left shift, respectively. By using your mouse, you can move your point of view around (such as, looking behind you while moving forward). You can also turn your flashlight off and on using the letter f on your keyboard. The last control you have is zooming in and out using the letters e and g. It took me a while to realize that the character you play is holding a video-camera through which you see the game you play. The zooming feature is because of the camera.
In review, all you can do is walk and run. All you have is a flashlight. Your goal is to collect eight pieces of paper in this fenced in, wooded area. And this presents two of the main scare factors of the game: simplicity and vulnerability.
Tip: Keep moving. Don't stop.
The gameplay map is surrounded by a fence, so there are no invisible borders. There are various landmarks (large tree, vehicles, a silo, a building with no windows, and so on) you will come across which may have the notes somewhere on them. Whenever you come across a note, you must right-click on it to collect. Once you pick up the note, the screen will display how many notes you have collected out of the eight total.
Sometime during the gameplay, you will notice that your screen will get "snowy" accompanied with a screeching sound. As I stated before, I did not realize until later that the fuzz was the video-camera being affected by the Slender Man's proximity. This technical glitch the player's video-camera experiences is a sign that it is either nearby or in your view somewhere.
Your experience with the Slender Man will vary from gameplay to gameplay. As you collect more pages, it becomes more aggressive in its stalking and the ambience steps it up with heartbeat simulation, train-like noises, and many other sounds effects and music additions to enhance the eerie feel of the game. Your antagonist follows no pattern, other than getting ever closer. It can vanish from sight using teleportation, so keeping an eye on it will do you no good. This is the third main scare factor of the game: the jump-scare.
Tip: Never look behind you, no matter what you hear or think you see.
So, what happens when you finally win? I have never won this game, so I cannot relay my personal experience. I could just tell you from what I have seen in YouTube videos of completed games, but that would ruin the ending.
So, here we have a game where the goal is so incredibly simple that basically anyone with finger coordination can play. The goal is to collect ominous pages stuck on various landmarks. Here lies the simplicity factor. In the game, you are alone at night in the woods. All you have is a flashlight and video camera. As the game progresses, you become aware of a being stalking you. You cannot hide. You cannot defend yourself. Here lies the vulnerability factor. Having the ability to teleport at will, your antagonist is an unpredictable stalker. Here lies the jump-scare factor.
Pros: It is free and has excellent graphics. All you need is a keyboard and a mouse to play. You can unlock bonus features if you manage to beat it. It is a great game to use for scare pranks.
Cons: The download is huge (over 50 MB of memory needed). You need a good game playing computer or else the game will drag, making it very frustrating to play. And, of course, the game can be incredibly scary, especially if played alone in the dark.
Altogether, in my opinion, it was an excellent game to play, even if it did give me restless sleep for a few nights. If you enjoy this game, there are over a dozen other fan-made Slender Man games out there for free. Some day, when I get my courage back from wherever "Slender: The Eight Pages" chased it, I may play one of the other games. It is a challenge I look forward to meeting.