Slender: The Eight Pages or simply Slender, is a psychological horror/romp in the woods video game released in June 2012. The game is based on the Slender Man, a tall humanoid creature with a strong aversion to the sound of rustling paper, torches and children. You play as an intrepid torch wielding child, tasked with collecting and rustling eight pieces of paper. This task must be completed before the Slender Man can stand behind you and lean on the most terrifying piano keys possible.
Slender: The Eight Pages has a story, it's all there in the title. According to the developers "No general knowledge of the Slender Man is required to be chased around a forest by him". Accordingly the game simply places you into the forest in the middle of the night and then suggests that it might be prudent to collect eight pieces of paper, naturally forgetting to add "Try to be careful of the monster that is planning to pull your lungs out through your nose".
The player must discover for themselves that they can jog short distances and then listen to their character wheeze like an eighty year old chain smoker. Players will also discover that their torch has been designed to carry out three functions, namely: searching the sides of landmarks, dramatically illuminating the Slender Man and running out of batteries at the worst possible times.
The eponymous eight pages can be found attached to landmarks which are found throughout the forest, these landmarks include a number of sensational sights including a "scary tree", a wall, an empty building and a large rock. These landmarks are all connected by dirt paths which run through the forest though most players shun the structured approach of following the paths in favour of plunging into the undergrowth and screaming every time they reach the fence at the edge of the map and are forced to turn around. This approach will eventually cause the player to stumble upon one of the ten landmarks and collect their first page.
The page in question often contains either vital survival information such as the word "No" written six times on either side of a crude stick-man drawing or simply a vivid description of the peril the author was in at the time of writing. Collecting the first page or running around the forest for long enough will trigger the Slender Man's pursuit of the player. The collecting of further pages will prompt Slender Man to become faster and more aggressive, and to engage increasingly spooky ambient background noises.
The Slender Man
The Slender Man is the primary antagonist of the game, he resembles a tall thin man with very long arms dressed in a black business suit with a blank featureless face. As the player moves through the forest the Slender Man pursues them, a task he undertakes by teleporting from place to place before standing completely still and waiting for the player to shine their torch onto him, which they will invariably do. The Slender Man's greatest disadvantage comes from the fact that the player character is filming their entire adventure, for reasons best known to themselves.
As the Slender Man draws near to the player the screen begins to go grey with static, this allows the player to calmly acknowledge their proximity to the Slender Man and gently jog in a direction that makes the static diminish. However, the static often prompts players to start looking around to see where Slender Man could be, an approach that almost universally ends with the player finding Slender Man and freaking out as he looks at them.
The game is lost when the player either looks at Slender Man for too long or if he manages to catch up with the player and turn them around to face him. This prompts the screen to flash and go white with static, show a close-up of Slender Man's face and then a summary of how many pages were collected prior to the player receiving the close-up of doom. A sighting of Slender Man is accompanied by what Wikipedia describes as a "startling music sting", a description which completely fails to adequately describe the sheer bed-wetting horror it inspires, players may recognise the music from every nightmare they have ever had.
Having assembled all eight pages players are promptly rewarded by continuing to wander the forest with the Slender Man now thudding his way after them with the maximum aggression and the most ominous music, this continues until the player is caught by Slender Man and receives the extreme close-up of terror. The player will then wake up, still in the forest, but during the day they will then take three steps before being blind-sided by the credits. If the Slender Man doesn't get you, the credits certainly will. This ending apparently suggests that somehow the player was dreaming, and that as the player may have guessed, collecting random pieces of notebook paper with useful notes such as "NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO" on landmarks did not accomplish anything after all. The player can then move on to playing the game on daylight mode, or with two different slightly less appalling types of torches.
In early versions of the game completing the game would unlock a mode in which the lyrics to a song named 'Gimme 20 dollars' would play over and over again when the player was close to the Slender Man. It's difficult to say whether this made the game better or worse.
In the latest version the player can also pause the game, but only when the game deems it appropriate; real men/women are eviscerated by cosmic horrors before they answer the phone.
Development and Reception
Slender was developed by Mark J. Hadley, also known as AgentParsec or bastard, if you prefer. It was first released in June 2012 and because Mark wants everyone to have the opportunity to wander the woods as a terrified child it is completely free. Naturally this has lead to it being downloaded to the point where practically everyone in the world has filmed themselves screaming into a microphone and very pointedly not winning the game. This has spawned a whole host of videos on YouTube where people play Slender, inform the viewer just how scared they are before screaming and being killed.
Many fans of the game encourage people to play it in company with another person, because this will make it more fun. Many things in this world are made better with the addition of extra players but, as with masturbation, adding an extra player just means the experience becomes awkward after you've been going for a while.
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