Last August, a free downloadable game called “P.T.” showed up on the PlayStation Store — and the horror genre has never been the same.
Unfortunately, unless you already own the game, you’ll only have until April 29 to download “P.T.” Game publisher Konami announced it has cancelled development on “Silent Hills,” and thus, its “playable teaser” (“P.T.”) will be removed from the PSN Store. Konami tells Business Insider “the distribution period and licence usage within the demo have both now expired.”
If you own a PlayStation 4 and haven’t played “P.T.” yet, you should.
“P.T.” is one of the simplest, most effective, and masterfully-created horror games ever released.
The game thrusts you into an empty room with a door. Once you open it, you are presented with a simple but eerie and photorealistic L-shaped hallway. There’s a bathroom, a clock, a radio, and a phone. There are also torn up pieces of a photo lying around.
As you pick up clues from the environment, you learn that you’re walking through a house where a man lost his mind and killed his wife and children.
Every time you leave the hallway through the basement door, you end up back in the same hallway. It’s your job to figure out the puzzle and escape the loop.
The demo, which I’ve played more than twice now, is a true terror. And that’s because it’s consistently unsettling, rather than flat-out scary.
Granted, there are one or two memorable “jump scares,” which have inspired countless YouTube reaction videos. But the true appeal to “P.T.” lies in the ambiance: chandeliers slowly sway back and forth, there’s incessant creaking, and occasionally, a baby cries, a woman moans, and a radio announcer offers chilling details about the house in which you’re standing. On a few occasions, he’ll tell you to look behind you. It’s extremely unnerving.
Once you reach the end of the “playable teaser” — this isn’t a spoiler, so don’t worry — you learn that the game is actually a long interactive trailer for “Silent Hills,” the now-cancelled game that promised a marriage between horror master Hideo Kojima and monster movie maker Guillermo del Toro, the director behind “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “Hellboy.”
Though “Silent Hills” is no longer happening, “P.T.” is a cult classic. Some of the puzzles are just flat-out brilliant — one of them has you collecting clues in different languages, so you need to translate them all and then put the phrases in the correct order to figure out what to do next. And it’s so effective because there’s no exposition, and no introduction to familiarise yourself with the characters or the situation. You must learn as you go along.
One half of the team that successfully deciphered the difficult-to-solve final puzzle in “P.T.,” a YouTuber named “Voidburger,” says not knowing the plot “makes you really think about what’s going on by obscuring the big picture and providing only little breadcrumbs to follow.”
“It heightens curiosity, which goes hand-in-hand with horror, in my opinion… It’s beneficial to keep the audience confused, because it amplifies their fear. And nothing destroys fear like knowledge, so it makes sense to keep the facts few and far between in the horror genre, and make the player work for their plot fix.”
“P.T.” is a true example of how simplicity and withholding information can create a truly memorable experience that feeds on your imagination. It’s a shame we’ll never get to see the collaboration between Kojima and Del Toro, but “P.T.” is a reminder that you don’t need a feature-length game to create an unforgettable experience.
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