Games for the Weekend is a weekly feature aimed at helping you avoid doing something constructive with your downtime. Each Friday we’ll be recommending a game for Mac, iPhone or iPad that we think is awesome. Here is one cool enough to keep you busy during this weekend.
Slender Rising ($1.99 Universal) is a game for thrillseekers that has you scurrying around looking for mysterious signs while being hunted by a tall, faceless man wearing a suit and tie. After presenting you with a simple enough task — collecting signs — the game does a good job of convincing you that you may not be in complete control of the situation, and that is what makes this game truly scary.
There are several variations on how you can navigate your character through the game. The most unusual is where you can slide your finger to look all around the screen, then double tap on a location you want to move to. A three-dimensional pin is dropped in the location you are heading toward, and you move straight to that point as if you were on rails. At any time you can double tap on another location and you will instantly change the direction you are moving. While moving toward your selected destination, you are free to look around in any direction.
On the other extreme, you have two virtual joy sticks for controls. The left joystick controls movement, the right controls looking around. The other two means of controlling your character are variations on the two extremes where you can use different combinations of a virtual joystick to move, and swipe anywhere on the screen to look around.
Let’s just say that all four of the control variations you have available have their flaws. And that is likely by design, as it adds to the overall awkwardness of the game. The lack of precision controls makes you realize that you are not in absolute control, which is one of the mechanisms used to tap into your fears. When looking around for signs, you are either going too slow, or turning too fast to see; or you can’t look high enough at something of interest. You will find yourself stumbling around in the dark trying desperately to find a series of mysterious signs that are scattered all over the place.
Built on top of the Unreal Engine, the graphics in this game are smooth and effective. Not everything you see in the game is going to be crystal clear, as your vision is constantly limited by the dark, fog, or the range of your flashlight. This limited vision also creates a situation where you are not aware of everything that surrounds you. Sometimes hazy objects in the distance look like the slender man you are trying to avoid. You are supposed to avoid looking at him because once he is in your line of sight, you will be paralyzed. As he approaches, you have one fleeting chance to escape by frantically swiping your finger on the screen in order to look away and get him out of your line of sight.
Striking a good balance between too easy so that the game is just silly, and too hard so that the game is frustrating, the overall effect of the clumsy controls and limited vision is that you have just enough information to make a mental map of where you have been, and where you think you want to go.
There are two main game modes to play. In Endless Stare, you keep wandering around, collecting as many signs as you can. Here you are just chasing points to increase your standings on GameCenter’s leader boards. In Chance to Escape, you win your freedom by collecting only seven signs.
Once you select the game mode you want to play, you can choose from three different scenarios. Each of the three scenarios are lighted differently: night vision, daylight or nighttime. The difference between the three is how the world around you looks. The final choice is where you choose to go, either the Cursed Ruins or the Desolate Town. Each offers plenty of obstacles to peer around, and long narrow passages that go nowhere and can trap you.
Slender Rising is based on the fakelore story Slender Man, originally created by Victor Surge on the Something Awful forums back in 2009. Only recently has the story gained mass appeal as the theme for many games online and different platforms. Slender Rising happens to be one of the best, if not the best adaptation on the iOS(s AAPL) platform. To get the full effect of this game, be sure to play it when you are alone in the house this weekend.