Return To Slender: Sanatorium

By Nathan Grayson on August 21st, 2012 at 11:00 am.

Not pictured: a place you would ever go under any circumstance for any sensible reason. Ever.

Remember Slender? You know, that thing you probably played in broad daylight, but it still made your skin prickle as though being assailed by the spindly legs of a thousand shaggy spiders? Of course you do. It only came out last month, silly. Also, if you’re anything like me, you probably won’t forget it until you draw your last breath, because oh god please just leave me alone, how do you keep appearing in the corner of my eye, couldn’t you be something friendlier like an army of one thousand arm-obsessed spiders? So now along comes Sanatorium, the first in a series that describes itself as “not intended to be a copy – simply a way for people who loved Slender to be able to face their fear on a different map with the same awesome gameplay. There are some differences which will make playing a somewhat unique experience – different AI, new sounds, and a different environment.” It’s also free, but – in spite of that non-existent price tag – I’m not entirely sold on this one.

In case you were worried, yes, Slender’s still scary if you put it in an abandoned asylum. I know. I’m shocked too. But Sanatorium feels like a step backward from Slender in almost every way. The level itself is cramped and full of objects that could be mistaken for Slenderman when you’re frantically glancing around, but it never quite finds its footing. In part, this is due to the fact the sanatorium’s also insanely repetitive – recycling the same few bedrooms and hallways with only minor tweaks, to the point where it’s pretty easy to get lost or turned around. It’s definitely at its best when hallways open up into more interesting lobbies and things of the like, but even then, the whole place is just sort of drab.

Also, the creators mention new AI, and it shows. In Slenderman’s Shadow, Slenderman’s a shadow of his former self. His pursuit of my immortal soul was nowhere near as relentless or well-timed as it was in the original Slender. Yes, this was still an experience that nearly made me leap out of my seat when – in real life – my phone suddenly announced that I’d gotten a text message, but it never reached the same type of fever pitch that Slender managed. Also, the sound effects repeat way too much, which further diminishes the mystique and unpredictability that goes into making this kind of thing scary in the first place.

All that said, Sanatorium’s still good for a quick bout of the heebie-jeebie-oh-sweet-lord-I’m-going-to-die-ies, but it’s not quite on Slender’s level. Happily, however, creators Marc Steene and Wray Burgess will have a chance to learn from feedback and improve their craft, as they plan on continuing the Slenderman’s Shadow project with four more maps throughout August and September. In the meantime, though, here’s a trailer of Sanatorium with an incredibly bizarre ending that – as far as I can tell – isn’t really related to the game. Huh.

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30 Comments »

  1. Wartooth says:

    Concept is a bit thin if you ask me.

  2. lordcooper says:

    In related news: http://forum.unity3d.com/threads/146306-Slender-Recruiting-to-make-a-more-professional-version

    This makes me a lot happier than any twelve blatant copies you care to name.

  3. Inglourious Badger says:

    What the hell is with that bit at the end of the trailer!? Like COD meets Deus Ex secret credits. Bizarre

    • frightlever says:

      I think it’s a joke. Made me smile.

    • physicser says:

      He comments on youtube that “That was originally a minigame you got for finishing the game but it made the file size too big. Gonna release it soon as a separate game :)”

  4. Cuban Pete says:

    I wasn’t that impressed by Slender, I just don’t find him scary, most likely for the sole fact he didn’t actually seem to do anything. He just kind of stared at me from a distance, I’d walk off, and serveral minutes later I’d see him staring at me from somewhere in the distance again.

    This would repeat until I’d die instantly for no apparent reason, and with no prior warning. At any point before this unannounced insta-kill he wasn’t exactly threatening.

    But hey, there’s room to improve, and I’m at least interested to see where the game’s heading.

  5. hello_mr.Trout says:

    you should totally finish amnesia! it gets less scary the further you go! and then you will feel really neat that you finished it also – your threshhold for playing scary games will be +1 :D

    • iGark says:

      It really does get easier, and easier — and then you’re in the frigging prison.

      And the it does get easier after that.

      But the prison.

      • Outright Villainy says:

        I agree that Amnesia doesn’t quite hold up the terror in the later parts, but jesus that wide open foggy area with all the torture devices nearby was probably the best part of the entire game.

        Also for anyone who hasn’t tried it, the Justine expansion is incredibly tense, since it’s permadeath.

  6. fiddlesticks says:

    After reading the title, I thought for a brief moment that we might finally get a sequel to Sanitarium and I was really excited. After reading the article, I’m now somewhat less excited. Still, this series has potential, so I’ll keep an eye on it.

  7. Kefren says:

    Strange – when I double-click on Sanatorium14.exe the file just disappears. Unzipped and tried a few times, sith and without Comodo running.

    • Bauul says:

      That’s because whenever you try to run it, it sneaks off your desktop, hides under your bed and is preparing to get you at night.

      Do it again, and another one appears.

      I hope you didn’t double-click it too many times!

  8. Dr I am a Doctor says:

    Breaking news, gamers are gigantic babies

    • Skabooga says:

      That word will forever be conflated in my mind with this scene:

  9. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    I tried playing Amnesia once, but I gave up after half an hour…

    I don’t think I could play the game in the article (or Slender) either. I’d just keep thinking “He could be behind me right know!” and spin in place for ten minutes.

  10. Dr I am a Doctor says:

    Please lose some weight. It’s not healthy for you, you have a higher chance of dying from heart disease. Besides, you’ll feel better when you’re thin, believe me

  11. phenom_x8 says:

    Slender, game that made me realize that video game can be quite surprising (honestly, i cannot find it to be scary) after the 1st resident evil and amnesia

  12. Kefren says:

    Mmm, keeps rejecting comments now, and then telling me it is spam. It wasn’t!

  13. Premium User Badge

    amishmonster says:

    In other horror news, I can’t see that headline without reading it as “Santorum”.

  14. beema says:

    Watched a let’s play of this and was not impressed. I think a lot of it was the sound design. The “music” just was not up to Slender levels of terror and anxiety. I think the higher visibility of the environment also cuts down on the fear. I’m a bit sad as I think this will ultimately lead to the watering down of Slender and just make it yet another tame overused thing that we forget about.