Haunt: The Real Slender Game is another installment in the ever-growing list of Slenderman games gracing the gaming world. Slenderman has become quite an iconic figure around the net. It stars in quite a few indie games, several web-series on youtube, and is the inspiration for more than a handful of Creepypasta. But can Haunt live up to the hype surrounding this terrifying character and put its predecessors to shame? Or is it only a small drop in Slenderman’s overflowing pond?
Before you begin
You have a choice to make before succumbing to the darkness of Haunt. Noob, Gamer, or Paranormal, (easy, normal, and hard modes respectively). Each mode promises a different level of terror for the player (whether or not it delivers, however, is up for debate.)
Noob offers an infinite flashlight, no threat of darkness looming over your head, map markers, no extra photographs to collect, and a painfully low Slenderman presence.
Gamer takes it up a notch, supplying batteries to keep your flashlight running (which are at times left in the most unorthodox of places), a slowly encroaching darkness with each photo/note you obtain, no map markers, extra photographs, and (supposedly) slightly more prominent Slenderman presence.
For those of you desperately looking for a scare, Paranormal mode hopes to deliver. The game starts in the dark of night and Slenderman is (again, supposedly) more aggressive than the other modes.
I played all three modes out of necessity, though unfortunately couldn’t find much difference between them.
This is the question posed to the player as they are transported into the world of Haunt. The screen fades into a dark and stormy night, the cliche` known to everyone that’s ever told a ghost story around a campfire. Alone in a seemingly abandoned park, with nothing but a flashlight, and the occasional strike of lightning to light your way, you meander down the path. Spooked, you hope to find help from whoever owns the abandoned truck you stumble upon. A mysterious scrap of paper with the title of “Project Haunt” is waiting for your prying eyes to devour like Thanksgiving dinner. This is where the story begins.
Like other Slenderman games, the goal is to retrieve notes and photographs. With each scrap of paper/photograph you obtain, the world around you begins to grow darker. This was an interesting prospect from the beginning, and I eagerly set out on a life-threatening Easter egg hunt. Or so I thought. Though the notes I collected provided me with an entertaining story, the quest to collect them was monotonous at best. It took me several attempts to play the game all the way through without quitting out of sheer boredom.
“This is a Slenderman game, so where is Slenderman?” I found myself asking on more than one occasion. I wondered if my file was a little glitchy, or perhaps I’d just been missing his brief appearances in the game while he followed me throughout the park. Imagine my surprise when I learned that this wasn’t a glitch at all! Even on Paranormal mode, Slenderman barely popped in to say “Howdy!”
Apparently, he only appears in order to punish you for doing something “wrong.”
“What is wrong?” You ask? I’ll tell you as soon as I find out. Even after collecting the majority of the notes, I still could not get the illusive Slenderman to appear and give me a good fright. There were a handful of jumpscares that endeavored to get my heart racing, but all they managed to do was keep me from falling asleep at my keyboard.
Before this becomes a rant…
This isn’t to say that the game has no redeeming qualities. The atmosphere was perfect for a Slenderman game and I enjoyed traversing the 8 locations of the park. The crash of lightning, and especially an abandoned house you can find early on in the game were enough to keep me on edge for the first half hour. The way the grass and trees move in the wind and the way the encroaching darkness threatens to smother you with each step was also enough to steal my breath away.
The words “Don’t Look Back,” scrawled in blood on one of the walls gave me a chill and I even pressed myself up against the wall to be sure no ghouls of the night would try to grab at me while I played. This was before I realized the guest of honor wouldn’t be making an appearance, however. The story itself made the game worth my time, and I found it more chilling than actual gameplay.
All-in-all, Haunt had all the properties of a great game: A scintillating story, immersive atmosphere, the element of not knowing what could be behind each corner. However, I downloaded Haunt with the hopes of being haunted by Slenderman, and that just didn’t happen. This was far from the most terrifying game I have played and left me feeling quite disappointed in the end.
The Good: Intriguing story, chilling atmosphere, good graphics
The Ugly: No Slenderman, not all that scary for a horror game, monotonous gameplay.