As the temperature grows cool and the leaves begin to drop, Touch Arcade rounds up can't-miss horror experiences from earlier this year and further back that will keep you good and spooked this fall.
Stop me if you've heard this one before. You're alone in the woods, able to see only what the dim beam of your flashlight picks out of the gloom, hunting desperately for the final scrap of paper and never looking at the same spot for too long for fear of meeting the eyeless gaze of a skeletal, faceless man in a midnight-black suit.
Games starring the Slender Man, are a dime a dozen on every platform, and most won't set you back even that much. Slender Rising [$2.99] sets its sights higher while following the premise of every other Slender game: find notes that flesh out the threadbare mythology before the long-legged stalker challenges you to a staring contest you cannot win.
Far be it for Slender Rising turn up its nose at tradition. You can play hide-and-seek with the Slender Man in the woods if you want, or you can step inside three new, twisted grounds: an abandoned town, an old asylum, and labyrinthine ruins. Each environment oozes unsettling atmosphere. Fog peels back as you creep forward. Rusty playground equipment squeaks as you pass by. Your footsteps echo along the pockmarked halls of the asylum. Drums boom off in the distance, slowly at first and then rising to a crescendo as your progress catches the attention of ol' Slendy.
Each area has plenty of shadowy crannies and blind turns that made me catch my breath, absolutely sure beyond a doubt that Slender Man would be on the other side. The dead-ends are worst: enter a darkened room, pluck the note pinned out in the open, and turn around slowly, expecting to see him standing in the doorway, arms hanging at his sides and his mannequin face ready to shred what remains of your nerves.
The myriad of ways you can approach your quest keeps Slender Rising fresh. "A Chance to Escape" dares you to find seven notes, while "Endless Stare" is a survival challenge: pocket as many missives as you can before Slender runs you down. Filters are graphical effects that change the environment. You can hunt and be hunted during day or night, wearing night vision hardware, or push through the heavy gale of a thunderstorm. The notes are randomly placed no matter what mode and filter you choose, so players should delight (and cower) at the prospect of surviving under so many customizable sets of circumstances.
Slender Man himself poses a greater threat. If you caught a glimpse of him in other games, you quickly looked in another direction and kept on walking. The possibility of seeing him was the danger. Now that danger is twofold. Spotting him where he wasn't standing a moment ago will make you jump, but the fright doesn't end there. Slender's stare draws you in like a magnet. The closer you are to him, the longer and harder you'll have to swipe and claw at your screen to tear free. It's a brilliant mechanic that ups the tension to a level bordering on cloying.
Slender Man's always been nearly omnipotent--there one minute and gone the next, only to brush against you a minute or two later. Here, he moves a bit too freely There were a few occasions where I'd round a corner and run into him, only to fight free, turn on my heel to flee in the opposite direction--only to bump into him again. Breaking free becomes more difficult each time he catches you, and more than one of those back-to-back face-offs did me in.
That aside, Slender Rising is arguably the best take on Slender man yet and inarguably the pinnacle of the mythos on iOS. The variety of haunting playgrounds, graphical filters, and gameplay options should keep horror fans grotesquely satisfied, especially this time of year as the air turns cool and crisp, the leaves drain to the color of blood, and the legend of the Slender Man and other ghosts and ghouls take center stage.