Before I discuss P.T. — the “playable teaser” for the upcoming “Silent Hills” game Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro are making — just know that Forbes says that “P.T. is one of the cleverest marketing gimmicks in the history of video games.” Of course I agree.
Judging by the footage I’ve seen of the game, it looks extremely tense and creepy. And, obviously, accomplished its mission of confusing/terrifying many unsuspecting players.
But I’ve repeatedly criticized games that sacrifice interactivity for the sake of graphics and mood, and specifically complained about “scary” games that restrict you to a flashlight and throw jump scares at you. It’s lazy game design. But I’m not ready to criticize P.T. just yet.
First of all, it’s free. Secondly, nobody is promising you anything. It’s not really even a product, it’s an experimental treat. That makes a big difference.
Thirdly, the game itself is constructed with a commendable level of stubbornness, which is baked right into the minimalist paranormal story. You’re being tested and manipulated by a dark power until you experience everything it has to offer. In most “flashlight horror games” the player is given more freedom and power, constant progression into new areas, and together this complicates the lesson players are supposed to learn. Here, player to actually pay attention to everything around them, because it’s literally the only thing they can do. If you had a stick to carry, or a fist, or even the ability to knock on the wall or budge things, you’d be much more confused about what to do. If you could run, you would be running all the time; if you could do anything, you would do it and it would soothe your sense of helplessness. There’s an important parallel here, between restriction, limitations, and heightened intensity. I explained this in the Purple Dildos and The Power To Destroy Fun Itself article: the weaker you are, the more you care about what happens. P.T. is pretty much the embodiment of this.
The progression, focus on repetition with slight variations, and re-experiencing the same things over and over, and being trapped are all about heightening your awareness and rewarding curiosity.
The audio is perfectly complimentary. Baby laughter, static, distorted voices, and throbbing are just a few of the things you can listen to. In fact, there are multiple languages in the game, and apparently people were supposed to communicate across the language barrier to solve certain puzzles. Turns out people fluked their way through it.
It has been suggested that the P.T. could be ported over to the Morpheus VR headset. If this is the case, I would genuinely be concerned for people’s heart conditions. Complete immersion into a paranormal horror this well produced is bad enough, but the possibility of your jackass friends poking you or shaking your shoulders while you’re freaking out would probably kill someone.
Nevertheless, I hope it happens. VR is ideal for non-interaction, and if the PS4 controller (or Move wand) was to serve as the flashlight so that players could shine the flashlight independently of where their view was looking, you’d really have people feeling like they’re inside the space. Considering that the project is supposed to become a Silent Hill game, and take place in a city, means this isn’t as likely.
Point of view and open world
According to this guy, Kojima says that he hasn’t decided how the main game is going to balance perspectives, or linearity. Whether the discussion is real or not, this is likely still being discussed on a regular basis. P.T. is probably a testing ground for how people react, and the game is in early stages.
Well this is the longest stretch of all, but there are some small common denominators between P.T. and The Phantom Pain. Both feature a “hell” theme, with ghosts/phantoms haunting a person who is descending into madness. It’s possible (although extremely unlikely) that Kojima will try to suggest a vague hint between the two worlds. There’s no reason why Silent Hill couldn’t exist in the Metal Gear universe, or vice versa. Even the most abstract, tangential connection between the two would likely make fans of both series get excited.
I guess that’s about the extent of my thinking. You can watch people play through the thing here, in case you still haven’t seen it. And this is apparently a foolproof guide to beating the thing. Something about talking to the baby with the PS camera or a microphone headset, and waiting for stuff to happen.