Sometimes, simple is better.
The freeware game “Slender,” which was made by indie developer Parsec Productions, is scary. I mean, like, really terrifying. I played it recently, and it gave me chills.
The plot: You’re a girl thrust in the midst of creepy, long, ominous woods. The sky is pitch, and there are no lights. You’re hit with the instruction: “Collect Eight Pages.”
That’s it. You’re off.
You find the first page and then you begin to hear loud slams — great, terrifying thumps and bangs. They’re steps.
Something is chasing you.
Not much more needs to be said. What’s impressive about this game, though, is that some guy made it on his computer. It cost pennies. A major developer would have spent a fortune and the product, sadly, would not have been as disturbing.
Charles Onyett, in a review for IGN, said the following:
Few horror games thrust you so directly into the heart of fear. All of Slender’s elements – the lack of a map, the threat of instant death, the slight element of unpredictability of the page locations – all contribute to a pervasive sense of hopeless vulnerability as you frantically flee an unknowable predator who may or may not be directly behind you.
He’s absolutely right.
Parsec Productions understands that large expenses are unnecessary to frighten. All that is needed is what’s primal: the feeling of being lost in the woods, the darkness of night, the claustrophobia, the noises.
Everything hits the right note.
The best part is that it’s free. Head to their website and download it.
This is a great lesson to developers. When things become too convoluted, then you lose sight of the game. Keep it simple. People will come.
A note to those who might be interested: play it in a dark room and put on headphones. Wait until nightfall. Oh, and try to be near a light. You probably won’t sleep much.