It’s pretty hard to scare gamers these days, but that doesn’t stop indie developers Parsec Productions from making a valiant effort. Their game Slender, based on the Slender Man mythology-meme, is an experimental first-person survival-horror affair. Alone in the woods at the dead of night, you are armed only with a flashlight and have to search the locale for eight pages which divulge more cryptic information on the malevolent, slender entity.

Unfortunately, the Slender Man  himself – with his lanky arms and dead, white, faceless head – is not far behind you and will randomly appear in and out of the trees to wreck your sanity. Staring at him causes your consciousness to quickly fade, so it’s always prudent to run when he appears. Your flashlight’s power is not unlimited and the chase’s ante is upped as more pages are collected. Think of it as a mix of the setting of The Blair Witch Project and the fade-to-static horror of The Ring.

Is it scary, though? It’s a mixed bag. I wouldn’t say it’s nightmare-inducing, but it certainly gave me a jolt with its jumpy nature and sinister atmosphere. Although the forest isn’t the most eloquently-rendered ever seen in a video game, it pulls off the feeling of creepiness and dread very well. The tension keeps building as the game wears on and more pages are collected, and the audio cues assist very nicely in unnerving the player.

There are a few complaints, though. Most evident is the player’s slow walking speed. This gives the game a sluggish feel and makes it seem a bit padded. It’s possible to jog and sprint, but the speed isn’t greatly increased and this causes the player to turn down the flashlight for some unfathomable reason. The almost pitch-dark setting also makes it difficult to navigate, resulting in the game getting boring as the player goes around in circles while nothing happens.

All in all, Slender is a short, stylish little free treat that’s not a very big download. The actual depth of “horror” is questionable but it’s definitely something that everybody should experience. A rather nice touch is that the location of the pages differs on each play, which helps to increase replayability. As far as experiments go, I’d say it’s pretty successful and it simply begs to be expanded upon.

Extend your arms over here to obtain your download, for either Windows or Mac.

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