Author: Will Westwater
Little was known about the next installment of the terrifying “Silent Hill” franchise until a playable trailer, simply named “P.T.,” appeared on the PlayStation Network Shop in August. With Halloween around the corner, I figured it was finally time to play through the teaser—a departure from the original “Silent Hill” formula that brings both new scares and new weaknesses.
“Silent Hill” has always been an especially twisted type of horror game, often forcing the character to deal with demons that are punishments for or embodiments of their past crimes or actions. “P.T.” is no different, revealing an eerily vague story about a man who shot and killed his children and pregnant wife.
The gameplay replaces the usual “Silent Hill” style of searching, shooting and fighting for first-person exploration (a la “Slender” or “Outlast”). The player investigates a long, dimly-lit, L-shaped hallway lined with old family photos. Strewn about the floor are bottles of alcohol and pills. Upon reaching the end of the hallway, the player enters a door taking them back to the same hallway—but each time, something is a little different.
Sometimes a door slams shut or the main door locks until the player figures out what he or she should do in a particular walkthrough. The feeling of dread is evident, knowing that interacting with the environment can end in two ways: a hellish ghost pops out of the darkness or—even worse—nothing happens, and the player is left in silent anticipation of the consequences.
The scares are carefully curated with an appropriate use of sound. The player’s footsteps and a swinging lamp at the end of the hallway are the only consistent noises. New sounds, like a radio recalling the news, are expertly crafted to create a feeling of real distance, which heightens the suspense of the game.
Despite this impressive attention to detail, certain sections of the game are murky and difficult to understand. The rules for certain sections, such as collecting the scattered pieces of a photograph, were unclear and ruined the moment. The terror is undermined when players have to consult a Wikipedia page to figure out what to do next. Complicated and vague game hints became too regular, making the player comfortable in what should have been a scary room.
“P.T.” was initially terrifying but ultimately monotonous. Although the teaser was a brilliant marketing tool with impressive effects, the convoluted gameplay leaves the overall experience with much to be desired.
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