Slender: The Eight Pages made waves in 2012 as an original, free horror game revolving around finding eight pages while avoiding a tall, well, slender, figure known as Slenderman. As nebulous of a character as his origins, he’s a tall, well-dressed gentleman (?) with tentacles and an appetite for children. A long-awaited sequel is coming out, dubbed Slender: The Arrival, currently in beta. However, it doesn’t deliver quite the same horrors as the original did, and here’s why.
The most significant difference lies in several factors that reduced the difficulty. I’ve seen plenty of streams and videos where, if the gamer is skilled enough, Slenderman can be avoided nearly endlessly in a game of tag. This happens for a few reasons: the protagonist seems to run much faster and can sprint a lot more. In the original, the player is forced to carefully manage the “breath” by not sprinting too much, or else, at six or more pages, it’s extremely difficult to get away from him without using that ability. He follows you instead of appearing more randomly and surprising you at some turns, so you always know that he’s right behind you. He used to be more unpredictable, but now if you’re just careful to not make any turns, and can actually run along the whole island in circles with joy. The flashlight’s battery seems endless, removing yet another limiting factor.
The older Slenderman often popped up at random places, sometimes appearing just as a figure in the distance; it’s those “oh crap, someone is just standing there!” moments that really made the simplistic game shine. That’s largely gone in the second game so far. He tends to be fairly close, which doesn’t help him that much. The screen begins to get static, but a quick turn and sprint always works, even if you literally ran past him when he’s at the corner of your eye. It seems to be that it’s a lot harder for him to catch you, which then turns the game into a prolonged chase, practically ending with the player getting a medal for a marathon in a forest at night.
It’s the ease of speeding away from Slenderman that keeps this game from being as terrifying as it should be. Slender: The Eight Pages has ugly graphics. It’s a bare-bones experience, but a terrifyingly real, visceral one. It’s funny how the next game has stunning graphics and a revamped feel, but it seems to have lost some of that original structure that made it an internet phenomenon and a significant stand for the first person horror genre.
Perhaps one of the strongest points of the original was just its difficulty. It was, in fact, unusual to get all eight pages in a run. Sound marks the slow, steady paces of the protagonist (supposedly a little girl), echoes rumble as more pages are gathered – and that organ slam when he comes into view; this is truly a sound masterpiece. In that case, there isn’t much to argue about in Arrival. Graphics, obviously, are quite impressive and deserve their own commendation.
Keep in mind, though, that is just a beta. Hopefully, Parsec Productions and Blue Isle amp up the difficulty and think harder on what made Eight Pages so special. It’s concerning that, having such a base to work off, they already strayed from the original’s feel. A preoccupation with developing near photo-realistic graphics should not steer the quality of gameplay, though if the first trailer is anything to pay attention to, we have quite a bit to look forward to in our (mis)adventures with Slenderman.