P.T. – PS4
Developer: 7780s Studios (revealed to be Kojima Productions)
Release Date: August 12, 2014
Reviewed by ChronoSloth
P.T.? Project Terror? Psycho Trip? Physical Therapy? Thanks to an interview conducted with Hideo Kojima not long after this game was released, we now know that P.T. stands for Playable Teaser and is an interactive experience meant to serve as the reveal for Kojima Production’s new project Silent Hills. While this game is referred to as simply a teaser, a message from the end of the wild ride states that it is not directly related to Silent Hills, and it can be assumed that P.T. will not be replicated in the full game, and is a standalone, one-off teaser meant to convey the vibe and feel of Silent Hills. So despite being a free “teaser,” this is an experience excellent enough to warrant a review from me, and a download from anyone who enjoys horror, or even just cinematic game design.
Announced to be available for download on PSN at Gamescon with a short trailer showing snippets of gameplay along with horrified reactions from players, P.T. appeared to to be a demo for yet another first-person indie horror game in the vein of Outlast, Slender, and Amnesia. However, as soon as players downloaded and started the game, they realized that this was something much different.
P.T. is a simple first person horror game with only two methods of control. The left analog stick allows you to move, and R3 will allow you to zoom in on items to interact with them. Upon waking up on the floor of a small dark room, a door in front of the protagonist creaks open and the player is given control. This is where the environment that the entire game takes place is introduced.
You are in a single hallway. Walking forward, you’ll see bottles, cans, and trash littering the floor, with an old school LED alarm clock displaying the time as 23:59 and softly illuminating its corner. To the left is a table covered in old candy and what appear to be pills, along with an off the hook phone and eerily normal family photos. Then to your right, rounding the corner is the end of the hallway, with a bathroom on the right, front door on the left, and cellar door at the end. In the corridor you can hear the sound of the house settling, an old light fixture creaking above the front door, your footsteps, and as you approach it, a radio. The radio announcer gives an account of a murder of an entire family by a father, and goes into chilling detail, suggesting that instead of a simple news story, this is more of a first or second hand telling of the tale. By piecing together the clues of the items found around the house, the rare bits of dialogue, and the events of the game, there is quite a story behind P.T. that makes everything feel even more sinister.
The scene is set incredibly well. Your first stay in the hallway is unnerving enough, but it isn’t until you walk through the door at the far end that P.T. truly begins. When you go through this door, you are greeted by the same view as when you walked through the first door in the game. The hallway appears before you once again, as it will every time you exit the door at the end. This limbo is what forms the whole of P.T.
Every “loop” you initiate holds something different for the player.There is an underlying, linear progression to the changes that occur after every re-entrance of the hallway, but many of the game’s events and scares are seemingly random. Objects move, doors open, close, or rattle, lighting conditions change, ambient noise becomes more harrowing, visual glitches appear, backwards speech is heard from the radio, words in random languages will appear briefly on screen, a mysterious apparition will interact with you in various ways, and the game will even seemingly end several times. It’s not just that players are being bombarded with these at random times and don’t know when to expect them, but that sometimes entire playthroughs can be done where certain events that seemed essential to the game’s progress or that would be scripted in others never occur, and former frights that don’t happen for a friend or during a second playthrough only add to the feeling that you are never comfortable, safe, or in the know.
To specifically mention any of the events that occur in the 1-2 hours you’ll spend with P.T. would spoil some of the fun, but there is a specific part that I must mention. Once enough of the required events have occurred, all players will come to a point where they are allowed to loop infinitely with little change to the hallway. Random events will still occur to keep you on your toes, but there is supposed to be a method to “beat” the game. However, the way in which this is done isn’t exactly known. Players have finished the game and viewed the Silent Hills teaser cinematic, but no one seems able to specifically say exactly what triggered the final set of events. I was never able to view this ending in my first playthrough, and it wasn’t until I went to a friend’s house that we finished the game after a much different playthrough.**
P.T. is the first time I’ve felt disturbed by a game in a very long time. Outlast is horrifying in a very visceral way, and you’ll find yourself running from your life or frantically hiding. But that didn’t effect me emotionally. In P.T. you’ll slowly explore an area while sounds that bother humans on an instinctual level are ambient noise while subtle things change and tricks are played on your mind constantly. My stomach hurt while I played P.T., waiting to see what horrible things the game had to show me. Silent Hill as a franchise has always made me feel dirty, grossed out, drained, and worried. P.T. captures those feelings extremely well.
In true Kojima fashion, the newest game in a huge franchise was announced through an incredibly odd series of events triggered in a demo that wasn’t said to have anything to do with the series. Though it explicitly states at the end of the game that it will not directly relate to Silent Hills, I believe that the way events in the game happen differently for almost everyone is a hint at the theme and way Silent Hills will work, and why the title is now plural. Though the endgame of P.T. is frustrating and slightly immersion-breaking in that the set of specific triggers to finish is still unknown or apparently different for everyone, it is still possible, and discussion among series fans and players on how to complete it and discover all of the Easter eggs has been encouraged by Kojima himself and seems intentional. I immediately forced friends to play it as well, and it’s was just as entertained as when I played, and also saw many events pan out differently. P.T. is a gripping and terrifying experience that will stick in your mind long after the 1-2 hour runtime. “Don’t trust the tap water.” “204863.”
**For players who need help with getting the ending cutscene and don’t mind being spoiled, these are the steps that allowed me to finish the game. Please note that they may not work the same, or at all, for you.
1. Plug a headset that allows speech into your DualShock4. (Wireless headsets or PlayStation Camera should work also)
2. Allow the clock to strike midnight, and walk exactly ten steps in any direction and stop. Wait for the baby to laugh.
3. After this laugh, wait for Lisa and her audio cues to appear. Where you are in the house will determine where she appears.
4. Approach her at a safe distance, being sure you can’t be attacked. Zoom in on her and speak to her. Words that begin with the letter “J” seem to be key. Continue to speak until she and her noises disappear.
5. Repeat step 4 until the baby laughs a second time. Upon hearing the laugh, do not move. Your controller will vibrate.
6. Wait for the vibration of the controller to stop, and the baby will laugh a third time.
7. The phone will begin to ring after the third laugh. Go inspect the phone.
8. Exit the loop door, and enjoy your ending!
Share This Post