‘P.T.’: The best horror video game ever is a demo and lasts only a few hours

Almost six years have passed since the appearance of 'P.T.', perhaps the most terrifying interactive experience in history, and its curious history and circumstances have only added to its mythology. The "Cursed Objects" trope (from the Necronomicon to VHS tapes of "The Ring") is a horror culture favorite, and "PT" terrifying and intangible, having never been physically fit and was removed from the Playstation store, it kind of took on the characteristics of one of those cursed items. Although its intrahistory is much more prosaic.

'P.T.' (the initials of the nowhere mysterious terminology "Playable Teaser", ie "playable teaser") arrived on the Playstation Network on August 12, 2014, developed by Hideo Kojima for Konami in collaboration with Guillermo del Toro. It was to be the preview of the new installment of one of the most beloved and longed for sagas of the company, 'Silent Hill', which would be titled 'Silent Hills'. Too many mythical elements were shaking hands on board the teaser (Kojima, Del Toro, Silent Hill, Norman Reedus -which appears at the end of the piece- in addition to the extraordinary quality of his own teaser) so as not to cause an immediate sensation.

However, these were cloudy times for Konami and Kojima. The designer had had problems with his label, Kojima Productions, built under the wing of the Japanese company, since the release of the latest installment of Metal Gear Solid, 'The Phantom Pain'. The development of this game had been convulsive, with Konami imposing strict deadlines that resulted in an irregular and incomplete title by players and the press.

In March 2015, Konami announced a restructuring of the company and the name of Kojima and his team was removed from all promotional material for the game. By July 2015, Konami and Kojima had completely broken relationships, and in fact, the game director was unable to collect a prize for the game in December at the Game Awards at the express order of Konami's lawyers. That same month, Kojima would announce that it was reforming the studio with the same name and under the wing of Sony. The first result of that collaboration would be 'Death Stranding'.

This whole soap opera between Kojima and Konami affected, of course, 'Silent Hills', the project for a new sequel to the saga in which Kojima had unofficially confirmed that he was working, and which had put fans in a frenzy. It is not for less: the 'Silent Hill' saga has two installments adored by the press and players (1999 and 2001), two somewhat more disputed but that have ended up earning their place as great horror games (2003 and 2004), and from there, a string of no less than eight sequels, compilations and more spin-offs, with partial successes but, in general, a much lower quality.

'Silent Hills' was to be the ninth game in the 'Silent Hill' core saga, although there was no official confirmation of its existence until the arrival of 'P.T.', where the title and involvement of Reedus and Del Toro were revealed. But it could not be: on April 27, 2015, after comments on the matter of Del Toro and Reedus, Konami announced that Silent Hills was canceled and that 'P.T.' It would be removed from the Store two days later. In just under a year of official life, 'P.T.' It had been downloaded over a million times. He died teaser, the myth was born.

What happens in P.T.

The mechanics of 'P.T.' It is very simple: a first-person perspective (unheard of in the series except in moments of the fourth game, 'The Room', although later it would end up adopting in its seventh installment the eternal rival of the Konami series in material of survival horror, 'Resident Evil') that leads us to explore a mysterious house. The house is not too big: an L-shaped hallway, a pair of doors. One eternally closed, apparently the one on the street, another leads to a filthy bathroom. At the end of the corridor, a small staircase descends to another door, which leads to the beginning of the corridor, in an eternal loop.

To get out of that infernal Moebius tape, the player will have to solve cryptic puzzles with the only help of his ability to observe, since the game does not allow you to carry out any type of action, beyond zooming in on objects. As the demo progresses (which can end in twenty minutes, although its duration, entertaining just enough, is around more than fifty minutes, or even several hours), a terrible ghost will appear, named Lisa, who if he catches the player what will send at the beginning of loop where you are at the time.

As he progresses again and again through the hallway, which undergoes changes in lighting and appearance, the player discovers details about the story, mostly through a spectral radio transmission. The visions are becoming more extreme: a strange deformed fetus crying in the bathroom sink, a bleeding fridge hanging from the ceiling, a talking paper bag ... the player will lose his perception of reality when the hallway is fold back on yourself and there is no apparent way out of it, disappearing the stairs and repeating the same corner over and over again.

A final series of puzzles after a false bug in the game will take the protagonist out of the house, after very vaguely discovering the terrible crimes that took place there. A voice assures that he will return after being assassinated with "new toys", and it is only then when we see the face of Norman Reedus, moving away from the place. Just under an hour of extreme terror and a series of far from straightforward challenges (Kojima calculated that the average gamer would take a week to solve the teaser, clearly underestimating the internet) for an unforgettable little experiment.

Why P.T. it's so scary

If there's a game (because 'P.T.' is a game in its own right) that exemplifies that old "less is more" trope like no other, it's this little example of perfect marketing by Hideo Kojima. A hallway, a room, an increasingly terrifying loop. The interaction reduced to a minimum (displacement is the only freedom allowed to the player, and in a corridor that mobility is significantly reduced) and a series of cryptic puzzles that reveal a story that, clearly, Kojima does not seem to care much about because he is interested plus creating an oppressive and sickly atmosphere.

The game is so honest in presenting its catalog of horrors that it is generous in terms of progress mechanics. You can die as many times as necessary, often you won't even know if those deaths are planned for the demo to progress. That's the least of it, because there is no inventory, there is no way back, a death sends the player at the beginning of a loop where I was alone - literally - thirty seconds ago.

I mean, 'P.T.' asks the player to focus on the only thing that should be important in a horror game that is completely narrative -as it could not be less coming from Kojima-: the plot details, the atmosphere, the specters, the messages, the ghosts. Kojima is often accused of making mere interactive movies with his games, but it's easy to overlook how complicated it is to manufacture an upward tension that allows one to build a sequence as one of the first and most memorable 'P.T' has to offer.

In it, the player - after having passed several times in front of the door, closed or ajar - and having seen Lisa inside, manages to enter the toilet. Inside, the bloody fetus starts talking to him and the door slammed shut. The player is locked up, and after a few seconds the handle starts to move and he hears voices. Until that moment, he has never died or been attacked by the ghost: if he has to face him, he does not know how to do it. The tension with minimal elements is suffocating.

'P.T.' it is not a mathematical experience. As usual in Kojima, some of the puzzles are solved by breaking the fourth wall, and the brilliant moments (possession of the mirror) with which they take the player out of fiction shake hands (one of the pieces of a portrait is achieved in the pause menu). But overall, that's Kojima and there's no other way around. References to genre cinema (here Lynch is leading) and to 'Silent Hill' (the bathroom could be the setting for any classic game in the series) are constant and you must participate in the rosary of tributes to fully enter the demo.

All this, added, gives rise to a product as unique and unclassifiable as only a Kojima game can be, and without a doubt that results in its mythical aura and in the effectiveness of its terrifying proposal. Because there is nothing less appropriate for a horror game, movie, or book than predictability. And that fame of an object dissolved in the past, of a piece of mythical archeology is so strong that there are still those who continue to play it, continue to fiddle with it and extract new data that only confirm that we are dealing with something unique.

She actually attaches to the player's back as soon as you get the flashlight, here, I demonstrate how you can see some strange shadows. I then lock the camera in place and walk forward, showing how she's always there ... following you ... pic.twitter.com/zarhwjNmZz

- Lance McDonald (@manfightdragon) September 9, 2019

For example, and there are only a few cases: in 2016 a real-image fan-film of remarkable aesthetic achievements was produced; in 2017 a port for PC arrived moving under Unreal Engine that had to be withdrawn due to Konami demands; Later came another with support for virtual reality; last year it was recreated in 'Dreams'; a modder He managed to explore the very city of Silent Hill seen at the end of the demo ... and of course our favorite: another modder turned the camera on 'P.T.' to demonstrate that Lisa remains constantly behind the player's back, generating the haunting sounds and light play of the game. The video resulting from this experiment is another great horror movie in its own right.

If you haven't played it yet and want to access it, you're going to have a hard time, at least on PS4. There are fan-made alternatives on PC and of course you have countless walkthroughs in video without locutions, some taking it with all the calm that the game deserves. Its existence as a playable demo that officially disappeared when 'Silent Hills' was canceled is part of its phantasmagoric mythology, in a pun that will undoubtedly be to Kojima's own liking. A trace of the past, like any good ghost. The scariest ghost in video game history.

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