Before I get into the piece, please note: “P.T” is definitely worth experiencing without any prior knowledge of its content. I highly recommend you play it yourself before reading this, for that reason and because I’ll be including spoilers as to “P.T”‘s motive and greater context, as well as some of its content. Having said that, however, what I will say is that it’s horror-themed, and genuinely scary. Use your discretion. Anyway, on with the show
So then. “P.T”:
Now, I knew going in what the game actually was, but didn’t know what to expect. I had heard that Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro were going to make a new Silent Hill game called “Silent Hills” starring Norman Reedus (more on that later in the article), and that “P.T” was some kind of demo for it. I had seen a screenshot of a tall, looming figure standing in a hallway, but that was all. Intrigued, I downloaded it and got started.
“P.T” stands for “Playable Teaser”, and that’s what this is: what you get is an interactive experience that’s low on interactivity but high on puzzles and scares, and mainly sets the tone for what’s to come. You awake in a bare room save for a squirming, bloody paper bag. Upon leaving, you find yourself in a hallway- turning the corner leads to another hallway with a bathroom to the side, and a door that leads down to the basement, causing you to loop back around to the first hallway. This is the entire map of the game. You hear on the radio the story of a man who murdered his wife, son and daughter, and it quickly becomes apparent that’s key to what you’re going to experience.
As you move through the loops, things start to change- sometimes there are puzzles, sometimes you’ll find something horrible, sometimes you’ll see something incredibly threatening leering at you before disappearing into the darkness. Sometimes you may even get attacked by something ghastly. As you progress things get increasingly dire and more complicated to complete, ending in a puzzle that much of the internet has agreed is randomised- Kojima has stated he wants people to take ages to complete the whole thing. The amount of variety, tension and sheer fear that can be packed into two hallways and a room is remarkable- as I trampled back and forth down the hallway looking for the next puzzle solution the act of turning around to go back the way I came brought me more tension than pretty much any horror game I can mention. The atmosphere is amazing- you never feel safe, and every loop hurtles you into the unknown as you drag yourself forward, skin crawling. The imagery can be a little hit and miss for me (SPOILERS) – the grisly looking woman sneaking up behind you, grabbing you and grimacing at you was scary, but not very “Silent Hill for me- it was too much of a jump scare. What worked wonders were the weird, misshapen fetus lying in the bathroom sink crying, the bloody fridge suspended from the ceiling with ropes and apparently containing a crying child and the looming figure standing in the hallway. They were beautifully horrible examples of Silent Hill imagery (SPOILERS END), but overall it was fantastic. It’s largely subtle, and a lot better than what the series has shown in recent years. Combined with that story of the man murdering his family the whole thing feels disturbingly personal- tying into the long-running idea that Silent Hill as a town uses the series’ protagonists’ dark pasts against them. For a free interactive teaser, this is incredible work- a lot of love and effort has clearly been put into it, and as a result it’s a genuinely scary, interesting experience that, if it’s any indication of its tone and stlyle, makes me very, very confident that “Silent Hills” will be a return to form. Speaking of which:
Norman Reedus in a Silent Hill game made by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro? I’ll have some of that, thank you very much indeed. I love Kojima’s work (for those who don’t know, he created Metal Gear and he’s been heavily involved with every game in the series) and I think Del Toro will bring a really interesting flair to the horror (“Pan’s Labyrinth” showed me he’s got a real knack for horrifying imagery, both fantastical and realistic), and having played “P.T” I think it’s going to be amazing. The trailer for the game just shows Reedus walking into a town, so I can’t really comment on that, but the playable teaser shows that “Silent Hills” is set to be one hell of a return to form, and a horror game to watch. This is joining “Metal Gear Solid V” as my two most anticipated upcoming games.
I am so up for this.
By James Lambert