Indie Review: Slenderman’s Shadow (Complete)
The Secret Project was revealed, and we were surprised by what the developers of Slenderman's Shadow were bringing us. Now, it's finally been completed. Does it prove to be worth the wait?
- Addictive?Yes, more dangerously so than before.
- Worth The Time?Yes, there's no question about it if you're a fan of Slender.
- Things LovedThe graphics are stunning and the new visual effects are wonderful, the atmosphere is better than ever and can be downright terrifying and nerve-wrecking, Hospice and Prison have been significantly improved, the audio work is incredible, new map Carnival is brilliant, the Christmas Special is hilarious and great fun to play, the game is really well optimised.
- Things HatedSlender Man's new design is unfortunately really bad and not at all scary, some unique elements across maps have been removed.
- RecommendationFor around R60 you're getting eight Slender maps, plus the Christmas Special level. That's fantastic value for money, and if you're a fan of Slender, you should absolutely not hesitate to pick this up.
- Quick ConclusionSlenderman's Shadow is finally complete, and it's been well worth the wait. It's just a fantastic experience. And if Slender Man's disappointing model gets tweaked in future updates, this game could be damn near perfect.
- Name: Slenderman's Shadow
- Genre: Horror
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
- Developer: Marc Steene and Wray Burgess
- Publisher: Marc Steene and Wray Burgess
- Price: $6.99
- Reviewed On: PC
I understand that some of you may be a little confused since I’ve already reviewed Slenderman’s Shadow, so let me briefly bring you up to speed. If you recall correctly, you’d remember that the second part of my review was of three maps, as I was still awaiting the eighth one as well as The Secret Project announcement. Well, it turned out to be totally surprising in a great way. The Secret Project was actually that every single Slenderman’s Shadow map to date was completely remade with the Unity engine and improved, and various mechanics were also reworked. And that’s not even all, because the project also contained the newest map release, Carnival, as well as a bonus Christmas Special level. All of this was done in secret, and now the title has been released officially at an extremely generous cost. And now, after having played through all of the content, I’ve got a lot to say about the full release.
Firstly, let’s talk about starting up. Buying the game gets you access to a serial key which you’ll need to enter when you first load up the game. You’ll get to set your resolution and level of graphical detail, and that’s all it takes to get you to the main menu. The game has been fantastically well optimised, and the performance is excellent across all maps with very minimal loading times. You’ll simply select the map you want to play from the main menu, and you’ll get straight into it. It’s that easy, and it’s a far cry better than the original delivery of the games in separate, isolated launchers that needed to unpack each time you wanted to play. To that end, the developers deserve a great deal of credit, and as an avid player of the original Slender maps, I’d say that this was an awesome purchase just for convenience alone, especially given the pleasantly surprising fact that the game is only about a 300mb download in total.
Before talking about the overall game, let me delve into the newest map, Carnival. The map sees you stuck in an abandoned carnival trying to locate eight pieces of evidence before Slender Man gets you. The map was intended to be more difficult than its predecessors, and that’s very easy to see just from the fact that it will take you one or two plays to simply figure out what it is you’re looking for. The items are hard to find, and they’re varied between pages, objects and things you probably won’t even notice unless you’re really looking. Perhaps that’s a contentious issue, that the items are camouflaged in the map, but on the flip side it does present a solid challenge and will ensure that you play this map multiple times. As for the atmosphere, Carnival is nothing short of brilliant. The place is dark and downright creepy, and you can’t be blamed for getting frightened of your own shadows when you hear tarps flapping in the wind, or what appear to be footsteps nearby, or even crowds in the distance. It’s very unique in this way compared to other maps. The design of the place can be a little repetitive with the amount of miniature tents scattered around, but it’s been crafted really well, and all in all as far as atmosphere, feel, appearance, challenge and replayability goes, Carnival is a wonderful addition.
The Christmas Special, effectively the ninth map, is a fun level made as a bonus, but the result is actually pretty epic. You’ll find yourself in a snowy place tasked with finding eight presents before, well, something that isn’t Slender Man gets you. It’s far too entertaining to spoil, so I’ll leave it up to you to find out what exactly is after you in this level. I completely love this map though, because it’s just hilarious, and great fun to play. And the jingle bells background music is excellent, and rather surprisingly it blends laughably well with the iconic thumping that kicks off once you get your first present. The items you need to find are large and pretty easy to spot, although completing this map may be another story. Still, this is exactly the kind of map you’ll want to show off to all of your friends and get them to play it, because it’s just really good fun and a highly enjoyable experience.
One of the biggest selling points here is of course the significantly updated graphics, and it really is astounding how much effort was put into making the game look and feel so much better. The graphics are just stunning, and the new visual effects in each map are awesome. For example, there is now lens flare in maps like 7th Street with its street lights, weather effects are more prevalent, the sky in Claustrophobia is more stylized, darkness and shadow is much better defined and more dominant, and the glow of the flashlight is softer. Then there are major graphical enhancements. Pages and collectible objects look so much more clean and natural, environments are far more detailed, background textures are much more refined, especially close-up, and some have even been completely redesigned, and the atmosphere is just better than ever, and can be downright terrifying and nerve-wrecking. This is also due to the incredible audio work, which has also undergone improvement. It’s a little sad for me that the iconic bell chimes that started up after collecting a certain amount of items has been removed in the maps it was present in, but it’s given way to more subtlety, and I have to conclude that the atmosphere in the full release far surpasses what came before.
But it wasn’t just the graphics and audio that were updated and improved, but also elements and mechanics within the maps themselves. Hospice, a map I previously disliked for its underwhelming visuals and uncomfortable design, has been significantly improved in practically all areas, and it’s now a level I can appreciate and enjoy playing. Prison, another map I felt extremely mixed about because it nullified many of the elements that make Slender so good and scary in the first place, appears to have been completely reworked. Initially, you had about two minutes to find all the photos before you were guaranteed to die regardless of how many you found, but in a test of mine I survived well over three minutes in this version and then got trapped by Slender Man due to a mistake. Prison is much more playable and enjoyable now whilst still packing the same challenge as before, which is great.
However, while I’m over the moon about these improvements, I do very much dislike the fact that certain unique elements across maps have been removed inexplicably. For examples, the text that set up the scenario to Mansion is gone. Elementary had disturbingly chilling and creepy music in its intro that made it memorable, but it’s no longer present. Claustrophobia was the only map to feature a little bit of voice acting upon its start, but that’s been taken out. Prison had a unique miniature key-light that eerily glowed green when Slender Man was near, but that’s been removed. These omissions aren’t game ruining or that big of a deal, but it does take a little bit of character and individuality away from certain maps, and many fans would agree that they were better in than out. While I do wish that they were still here, I really can’t go back to the old release simply because of the convenience, the significantly improved atmosphere and of course the awesome new visuals and fixes to the core mechanics.
Here’s where we unfortunately get to the biggest, and honestly the only real problem, with Slenderman’s Shadow. In many ways it’s really frustrating for me because if this issue wasn’t here, the game would be almost perfect and I’m deadly serious about that. To put the problem forward as bluntly as possible, Slender Man’s new model is disappointing. It’s not at all scary, and if it wasn’t for the fantastic visuals, audio work and atmosphere doing the job, I probably would consider him to be a minor annoyance rather than the fearsome bastard that once made me throw my headphones clean off in fright. His model now has facial detail rather than the signature blank slate, and he no longer stands tall, menacing and completely still, but for some unknown reason bobs around. It just gives him a balloon-like appearance. Gone even are the menacing tentacles that were present in certain maps like Claustrophobia when you collected enough items, and gone are the slightly different appearances he had in the various maps. He now looks the same in all, and it’s honestly a bad look. I was both terribly excited and anxious to see Slender Man with these shiny new graphics, but he’s a big letdown.
I’m just not entirely sure what the artists were thinking, and I can’t hide my distaste for it, especially since I strongly believe that if it gets changed in future updates, this game would just be so close to perfect. Overall though, it’s seriously the only problem I have with this game, and in all fairness it is a major one. But as we’ve already established it can be improved in an update, and of course that does depend on fan reception to it. As far as I’m concerned though, changing the model is a must, or even just adding additional ones and randomizing them across the maps would go a long way in making this already excellent game even better. Perhaps it could even be pretty cool to have a choice between the classic and new model. Either way, I’ll wait and see what happens and pay close attention to the feedback, but as for right now, I’m very satisfied and I’ll definitely be playing this game a lot more.
Slenderman’s Shadow is finally complete, and it’s been well worth the wait. It’s just an amazing experience that has been stunningly recreated, and it’s fantastic value for money. If you’re a fan of Slender and especially this series, you should absolutely not hesitate to buy this. The only thing holding it back right now is Slender Man’s disappointing model, but if it gets changed in future updates, this game will be damn near perfect. Right now, it’s easily one of the best Slender releases out there.