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P.T. (PlayStation 4) artwork

P.T. (PlayStation 4) review


"The hills were silent, and now they're dead."


P.T. (PlayStation 4) image

In August 2014, an enigmatic horror title called P.T. appeared for download on PSN. Few players knew anything about the game, its development or its release, save for its developer's name: 7780s Studio. Players gleefully dove into this horrific spectacle, blathered about it on social media and eventually finished the brief campaign.

At the game's conclusion, its haunting secret came out of hiding. A shaggy-haired man walked down a foggy street while familiar names displayed: Hideo Kojima, Guillermo del Toro and Norman Reedus. The Silent Hill logo appeared, followed by an 's' that materialized to make Silent Hills. P.T. wasn't a proper game, but a "playable teaser" for an upcoming title that could have revitalized its ailing franchise. Hairs raised on the backs of thousands of necks.

Shortly after this revelation, the strained relationship between Konami and Kojima further soured and eventually led to his departure from the publisher. Silent Hills soon saw a cancellation as a result, joining the likes of "Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash" and the remake of "Creature from the Black Lagoon" on the pile of projects we will sadly never see. Konami promised to deliver a new Silent Hill installment without the aforementioned trio. However, considering the previous few entries to the brand, that's not a reassuring pledge in the least.

P.T. (PlayStation 4) image

PSN later de-listed P.T., much to the chagrin of horror fans who never had the opportunity to play it. Thankfully, if you downloaded the game before its disappearance, then you still have a chance to check it out. Otherwise, your only options are to either make friends with someone who still has it installed on their PS4 or spend an outrageous amount of money on a used console that has P.T. installed on it.

I'll just be straight with you: it's not worth shelling out a grand or more to play this sixty-minute trailer. Yes, it's creepy as hell, but it's not exactly the first-person horror adventure of the decade.

The campaign begins with you lying on the floor as a pair of mating cockroaches scuttle across it. You rise and enter a hallway decked out with paintings. A clock lies to you right and a nook on the left, with empty bottles of alcohol scattered hither and yon. You hear a radio as you round the corner, broadcasting grim news of a multiple murder involving a man who killed his entire family. A bathroom door remains closed on the right, although it rattles. I mean, what's a Silent Hill game without a noisy bathroom? Following that, you make your way forward and descend a stairway toward a basement door that leads you back to the beginning of the L-shaped hallway.

You venture through this hallway repeatedly over the course of your time with P.T., and it's both spooky and annoying. In some ways it's like "Groundhog Day," except Bill Murray went to hell in this version. Each time you venture into the hallway anew, something changes. The alterations are subtle at first, beginning with the bathroom door slowly opening. Eventually, you peer through it and a mysterious figure quickly shuts it. Later on, you hear a baby crying and voyage into the wide open loo. There you discover a gruesome sight in the sink and wish you hadn't investigated the noise.

P.T. (PlayStation 4) image

P.T.'s environment is terrifying because it's all too real. Its presentation is sufficiently photo-realistic that you feel like you're touring an actual dingy, haunted house. The corridor's peculiar noises, dim lighting and cockroach infestation get under your skin, and by the time you conclude this affair you'll itch for a shower.

Soon enough, a grotesque female ghost named Lisa appears, zooms through the halls and vanishes. Sometimes if you're not careful, she'll pop up behind you, grab your neck and lift you off the ground. The camera jolts to the side as bones crunch under her grasp and you fall to the floor, ostensibly dead. You respawn right after that, returning to the initial room and resuming the quest where you left off.

Eventually, though, P.T. begins to lose its appeal. You see the same environs repeatedly, and the experience shifts from maddening to tiresome. On top of that, it becomes more difficult to advance because the latter phases of the game sport obtuse objectives. During one scene, the hallways turn blood red, moving eyeballs manifest in every painting and your movement speed noticeably increases. This segment eschews the usual "go to the basement to start over" feature and instead presents you with an endless loop. The solution? You must stop where there is a hole in the wall and peer through it using the zoom function. P.T. gives you no indication that it expects you to do so.

P.T. (PlayStation 4) image

P.T.'s finale throws you for a loop (no pun intended). You wander around the corridor, attempting to trigger the closing cutscene. The only issue is no one actually knows the order of events needed to advance. Sure, everyone's got either a forum topic, YouTube video or Reddit page that "works 100% of the time." Nevermind the comments below that report that the strategy didn't work for them. It doesn't help that the actions required to complete the puzzle are mundane, making it difficult to pin down precisely which particular actions are necessary. This is why you read tips such as enter the hallway and stand still, enter the hallway and stand in front of the clock, don't walk until the clock chimes midnight, wander around until you hear a second wave of someone moaning or sobbing, enter the bathroom, don't enter the bathroom, look at the phone, don't look at the phone, press R3 in various locations, don't press R3 at all, put your left foot in, take your left foot out, do the hokey pokey... the list of to-dos varies from one report to the next.

When you finally reach the end, you'll see the trailer described above. This was the only time a video game could've acceptably ended with an obvious commercial. In 2014, the closing cinematic was a thing of beauty and a ray of hope for a series gone stale. Now, it's a depressing reminder that Silent Hill will likely never see repristination. Add it to the list of hard truths that horror fans have had to cope with over the years: Vincent Price and Boris Karloff are dead, Robert Englund will never play Freddy Krueger again and Silent Hills is never going to happen. Our only reminder of what could have been is a decent interactive teaser called P.T., and even that is fading from this world.

3/5

JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Staff review by Joseph Shaffer (October 31, 2017)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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