Wolf’s Wicked Words: A Slendering Train Of Thought
Some gamers really underestimate the power of indie games. I, for one, am a big fan of indie games, and have been astonished more than once by these little guys and their creative sensibilities. If you look at titles such as FEZ and Bastion, you’re in for a unique surprise. From personal experience and talking to other gamers, it’s rather sad considering their lack of knowledge in regards to indie games. Am I sounding a tad condescending? I wouldn’t call it condescension; rather a wish for the gaming community to focus on everything that concerns gaming and not just mainstream titles. That, and peace on Earth, but who am I kidding?
During this past week I was recommended by my good friend to play a free indie game; dubbed Slender. If I’m not mistaken, we were talking about horror in games, and the different ways to scare your audience. I was busy playing F.E.A.R. 2 and my mind was at that time in “freaky shit-mode’. (F.E.A.R. 2 might not have been for everyone, but I like it.)
My mind was primarily envisioning well known titles such as F.E.A.R. and Dead Space. Little did I suspect, I was going to be scared by an indie game. Not just creeped out or getting a feeling of unease, but genuinely scared. Scared = Literally jumping in my seat. It takes a lot to cause that reaction when I’m playing a game. Some might even call it a masochistic tendency concerning horror games and my wanting to play them. I want to be freaked out, frightened and fooled by a game. Please note: This does not include real life situations. I’ll most probably turn into a little girl, flailing my arms in a Claptrap sort of way whilst running away from the real life Necromorph and / or Barney.
Slender is a truly unique experience. Let me summarize: You find yourself in a forest needing to find eight pages. Why, that doesn’t sound so bad, now does it? The catch is that you’re not alone in this forest. Once you pick up the first page; creepy and goosebump-inspiring music begins to play and you’re being hunted by Slender (or Slenderman. Whichever one tickles your fancy.); a faceless, long-limbed killer wanting your finely curved behind. You have no weapons and the character you are playing with can get tired really fast. The scattered pages appear at random places, so you cannot necessarily plan the route you’re going to take.
What makes this little game so frightening? In my honest opinion, I think it is the minimalistic approach it takes to scare the player. Think about it. You have no weapons. There is no story. You get tired very easily. The music isn’t over the top, but creates the mood oh, so well. The Slender character doesn’t consist of a lot of detail and the figure of said character is often confused for a tree. And boy, there’s a lot of trees! The more pages you collect the closer he’ll get to you and you cannot hide hoping he won’t find you. He’ll find you.
Something that truly made me jump, was when he standing just outside of the one bathroom building you’ll find. I was just trying to get the hell out of there, for some reason that area causes me to feel super claustrophobic, even if I’m not one to feel that way. And here he was staring right at me, without any eyes, a little to my left. As I saw him I heard a sudden bang, well known within the horror genre. It had a perplexing effect.
It’s not something you can accurately describe and then successfully convey the needed feeling to the person that’s listening. (Or in this case, reading.) It’s something you have to play and experience for yourself. Therefore I encourage everyone reading this to go out, download Slender, play it and report back here.
It got me thinking about the many people being pessimistic about huge, high quality horror games. You have these great games with nice visuals, scary as hell audio and you’re still not happy with it. Why? Too many titles to choose from? Does the game have too many in-game supplies to help the player survive and therefore lessen the overall scare-factor? It’s something I cannot quite wrap my head around and would like some clarification from other gaming folk. And… GO!