Slender Review and Analysis
Slender is quite an effective horror game overall and as it is a free horror game it is definitely worth playing. The concept for the game is based on a meme in which images of a mythical evil faceless entity with a slender figure is inserted into photos where people are allegedly about to die.
The major positive this game has going for it is that it works as a horror game. If nothing else, Slender is a scary game that builds atmosphere and has you always checking over your shoulder. It seems to do this by using a mixture of devices. Darkness, fog and the surrounding forest serves to disorientate and confuse your vision while Slender showing up creates vision distortion akin to a video camera playing up. Overall, the game is heavily inspired by the Blair Witch Project and these roots show clearly.
The second major positive to the game is the design of the creature/monster Slender. At first glance it appears to be an nondescript man in a suit, but in reality its features are quite distorted. It has pale white skin, some variety of tentacles coming from its back and excessively long limbs. The interesting thing is this story started as a deliberately fake folk horror story on the Internet which basically involved inserting pictures of Slender into photos. The idea is that whenever someone is about to die Slender is generally somewhere in the background. It is not such a novel idea, but it works fairly well for a horror game as the entity caries with it a sense of dread.
The last positive the game has is that it is quite intuitive and easy to play. The gist of it is that you have to collect 8 pages of paper with some variety of message on them. After each piece of paper is collected the density of the fog increases and Slender becomes increasingly aggressive. The soundtrack reinforces this, with a thudding but subtle music track that slowly increases in intensity with pages collected.
The most severe negative is that the game does not run so well given its features. Its not exactly a high tech visual experience, yet there seemed to consistently be difficulties with frame rate even on medium settings and a half-decent PC. This would be excusable if it were a game like Crysis with indulgent graphics, but given that the game is just wandering around in the woods in the dark it does not make sense for it to run so poorly. That said, the game is a Beta so perhaps a final release will have significant performance increases.
The next negative is that there are some minor annoying game-play issues. For example, if you click escape for some reason you cannot continue playing but must restart. This might be deliberate with the intention being to force a certain sense of urgency and pacing, never allowing the player to pause, but it can also be annoying. Furthermore, the movement pace is slow and you cannot afford to constantly sprint either.
The final negative is that the horror lacks the psychological punch of games like Silent Hill. While scary when being played, after you have stopped playing the horror fails to persist effectively due to the lack of depth involved.
Slender is an effective horror game with a few minor problems that are overcome because it is free and in beta.