PT is too much Kojima
I’ve come to the demo of the new Silent Hills game, PT, rather late. That’s what I get for not owning a PS4. Better late than never though, and despite my tardiness PT was both an enjoyable and terrifying experience. Except for all the bullshit.
The setting of a long suburban hallway that loops around on itself is a really clever one. It’s a setting that feels familiar enough to put you at ease, and the small clues as to who lives there provide incentive to explore he space. The relative normalcy of the house provides a great contrast to the sinister events to come.
Because the space is so small, the slight changes that occur with each new beginning are thrust into focus, allowing for a subtlety that would be lost in a larger level. This allows the tension to be incrementally raised, rather than relying on jump scares as many other horror games tend to do.
With each circuit of the hallway, more questions are raised, and few are answered. Is this place Limbo? A metaphor for being born? A lot of horror (and science fiction) works are desperate to explain every facet of the universe they have created. That so much in PT remains a mystery makes it that much more unsettling.
Then the bulshit comes in. PT expertly builds up the tension and suspense into a masterful crescendo… and then loses it all as you are forced to go on an incredibly convoluted treasure hunt. Feelings of terror turn quickly to frustration as you scour the hallways for scraps of a photograph. Anything supernatural just falls into the background, ignored in favour of your search. And it can be a very long search, if for some reason you don’t think to zoom in on the start screen to find the part of the photo that’s hidden there.
Unfortunately, what comes next is even worse. I was lucky enough to have friends with me who had already played through the demo, so we blasted through photo hunt section, but here’s what you need to do next :
- Wait until the clock strikes midnight (take a moment to appreciate symbolism)
- Plug in headphones to Dualshock controller, this step may or may not be necessary
- Wander around until you hear a baby laugh three times
- Take ten steps then stop
- Remain motionless while your controller vibrates
- You should hear a laugh, and the phone will ring
Look, I get it. Puzzles like these are great viral marketing material, as internet communities swarm together to try to solve them. But for someone not in the know, coming into this demo blind, they could spend hours wandering through the game and never finish it. Heck, I had two friends who had finished it and walkthroughs at my disposal and I couldn’t get it to trigger.
Including these crazy puzzles is fine, but they can work just as well as an alternative route for a secret ending. These kinds of hi-jinks are a Kojima signature, but after enjoying the majority of the game so much, I finished the demo with a sour taste in my mouth. It’s clear that Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro have the potential to create an amazing horror game here. I just hope that Kojima is able to leave his crazy crap in Metal Gear.