Monday, April 2, 2018

Slender is when a cool theme can’t save horrible mechsnics

I tried Slender: The 8 Pages purely because of the theme. It is a one-page, Print-and-Play solitaire game based on a video game based on an urban legend/cryptozoology based on an internet meme.

I find the Slender Man simultaneously creepy and hysterical. I mean, we can trace the origin of the guy back to a specific thread on Something Awful. And the visual of a skinny guy with no face sounds like it was stolen from an old Doctor Who episode from when their special effects budget was bubble wrap and cardboard walls. (And then it seems like Doctor Who stole it back for the Silence)

At the same time, the sheer simplicity of the idea and the visual of the Slender Man cuts through any wool gathering and is just visceral and terrifying. 

The game has you going through a ten-area woods, looking for eight pages with a failing flashlight while the Slender Man hunts you. And you resolve everything by rolling one die with six being lethal failure.

Okay, the gameplay is terrible. As one of the comments pointed out, the only meaningful choice is how to allot two skill points between stealth, speed and search. And since speed and stealth are how you avoid dying at the hands/tentacles/oh-my-god-what of the Slender Man, search is a useless choice.

I gave it the old college try and even tried adding some house rules to make it more thematic. Which just made the gameplay drag and when the game doesn’t last five minutes and it feel likes it is dragging, that really says something.

A year or so ago, I tried a one-page game called The Sword of Valhalla which I found a bit meh. A dungeon crawl with no combat but some nifty bookkeeping. Since then, I have found enough other one-page games that have made me appreciate Sword and, boy, Slender really does that.

At the end of the day, Slender: The 8 Pages reminded me that I shouldn’t ignore all the warning lights just because the theme is cool.

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