How often have you been so horrified that you find looking around corners to be a crippling task? Not very often unless you’re a paranoid schizophrenic, but what if there were a game that could turn you into a paranoid schizophrenic? That’s the kind of terror I was expecting from the cancelled Silent Hills title.
It all started with a curious demo developed by an unheard company on the Playstation store that was simply called “P.T.” At the time, no one knew what it stood for and not many cared. In the following months, millions of players downloaded P.T. as the buzz swelled across social media and the internet.
I sat down late at night with a friend who swore on his mother’s grave that I wouldn’t be able to sleep if I played it. I was skeptical and boasted of the ineffectiveness of the horror genre on my psyche. Two hours later I found myself unable to clear thoughts from my head that would cause me to obsess over this demo. I wanted to know more, because no one in their right mind would create such a game and not have plans for further production.
Eventually, gamers speculated that “P.T.” stood for “Playable Teaser.” I was interested and decided to go back through the game to see if I could pick up any clues…alone. I knew what to expect but it was still a risk I had to take. Every detail, from the endless loop of the corridor to the swinging refrigerator sloshing with blood took me back to a time when horror games were forever changed: the 1999 release of Silent Hill. Unanimously noted as the scariest video game ever created, many developers tried to copy and exceed the type of horror that Silent Hill cultivated, but everything from Resident Evil to the more recent The Evil Within were child’s play compared to the original psychological terror. That is, until P.T. came out.
It was uncanny how similar they were despite the first-person perspective in P.T. versus the third-person in Silent Hill. It wasn’t the exact sequences of scary events in P.T. that reminded me of Silent Hill. It was the feeling of an inescapable anxiety and a desperate reach for what little sanity you had towards the end of the game that gave me the connection. This paired with an online video that people scoured for after the player finally completed the ridiculously cryptic puzzles of P.T. This video gave the final answer that there was going to be a Silent Hills game co-directed by Hideo Kojima (Cool) and Guillermo Del Toro (Cooler) with Norman Reedus (Coolest) as the main protagonist.
Alas, my dream of playing a game that could have possibly put me into a mental hospital was crushed as P.T. was taken off the Playstation Store without even the option to re-download the title. I can never play what was considered one of the greatest games of 2014 (even though it took me two days to finish). Only the Wikipedia articles and Let’s Play videos on YouTube give me any sort of experience of P.T. that I’m longing for. It’s a phantom pain, and it hurts. I will continue to rally for a new Silent Hills title until I am recompensed for my nights of sleeplessness, because I want more of those nights.
Well played Mr. Kojima, I’m more terrified that Silent Hill: Revelations will be the last installment than I ever would be if I actually had the opportunity to play your masterpiece. I look forward to whatever Guillermo is limping to the barn with next. Keep on being awesome Norman. And good luck, gamers.