The Good and the Bad of P.T.

Announced during the Sony Gamescom briefing, P.T (Or Playable Teaser) has taken the gaming community by storm.

Norman Reedus will star in P.T.
Norman Reedus will star in P.T.

Appearing on the PSN store for free, players initially were not sure exactly what to expect from this upcoming game by 7780s Studio.

Screenshots on the PSN store showed an 8-bit beat-em up despite a trailer showing terrified reactions of fans who had played the game being shown during Sony’s briefing.

As we now know, a shocking reveal at the end of the teaser showed that 7780s Studio was in fact a made up studio and that P.T. was actually a preview of things to come for a new entry in the “Silent Hill” franchise by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro, named “Silent Hills”.

The teaser however is quite a unique experience, as it quickly appeared that no two play-through’s of the game were the same.

But what exactly made this experience so great for players, and what are some of the potential negative aspects of this teaser?

Positives

Where do I begin?

The first thing that strikes you when you play P.T. is just how graphically impressive it is.

It’s without a doubt the best graphics we have seen so far in this short generation and according to an interview with Kojima at Gamescom, the game had to have its graphics scaled down so it would seem as if an indie company had created the game and so that gamer’s wouldn’t figure out the big reveal too early.

Screenshots don't do this justice.
Screenshots don’t do this justice.

If these are scaled down graphics, then I cannot wait to see what this game can do when it’s running at full capacity.

At times I had to remind myself that I was actually playing a game and not watching a movie. The graphics are on the verge of photo-realistic at times.

The other thing that really grabs you early is the atmosphere.

P.Ts setting is claustrophobic. You’re in a small corridor with no escape other than continually looping through the same door.

The sound design complements this beautifully, with only the shuffling of footsteps, creaking of doors and patter of rain to be heard, until the real creepiness sets in.

The crying voice coming from the telephone, the shriek of the baby’s cry from inside the bathroom and the sound of creepy voices in the distance all work to create a feeling of dread inside of you.

Gross.
Gross.

Even the radio newscaster repeating a story about a man (which I assumed was me) killing his family unnerves you and makes you question why you are still playing this game.

The way the game controls is also a strong point.

Moving the left thumb-stick horizontally makes the player lean to the side, which adds to the experience when you’re peering inside rooms where the door is slightly ajar, and when you’re peeping around corners hoping there isn’t something waiting to jump out and grab you.

The focal point of the games controls however, is the ability to take a close up look of your surroundings with R3.

I found that this aspect helped reinforce immersion as I played. It felt as if I was actually examining that phone or peering inside the bathroom myself. It also contributed extremely well to the scares, with the very first scare of the game almost making me fall out of my chair thanks to this mechanic.

Finally, I have to mention the scares themself. They are brilliant.

Spooky
Spooky

All the chatter surrounding how scary this game is, is not unfounded. Some people haven’t even been able to progress past the first scare it’s that bad.

What P.T. does well is create an atmosphere where you know something scary is going to happen, but then flips it on its head by making the game a unique individual experience for the player where certain scares happen at vastly different times to others. While there are even some scares that people will go without seeing at all.

It ultimately succeeds in making you dread having to walk down that corridor yet another time.

Negatives

However, with that said there are some flaws with this experience. The biggest of which surrounds the ending.

Kojima has stated that he expected it to take at least a week before anyone figured out the final “puzzle”, but withing hours some gamers had already beaten it.

At this point the solution to the puzzle appears to be unique to everyone’s game, with some players reporting that after 6 hours they still couldn’t beat it.

Ring Damn it!
Ring Damn it!

While this is an interesting mechanic, it’s also frustrating for players.

People like to be rewarded for the efforts, even if it is a playable teaser. Not being able to see the ending and the big reveal of “Silent Hills” leaves you let down after such a thrilling experience.

Furthermore, I had no idea how I solved some of the puzzles that allowed me to advance. At times I was just pressing R3 at insignificant objects and the game would then allow me to continue on.

The final problem I have with P.T. is that it appears that it’s not a very accurate representation of what “Silent Hills” final product will be.

As fans of the series will know, the series has been a third-person experience (Save for a section in Silent Hill 4) and it seems that this game will be no different.

While I’m still confident Kojima and del Toro will put out a great game, I feel that the first person aspect was perfect, and helps make the game more scary. Imagining my P.T. playthrough in third-person just doesn’t even come close to how scary it was in first-person.

I want to see more of this.
I want to see more of this.

Overall though, I enjoyed my time with the game. Just don’t ask me to sit through it in the dark again!

Feel free to discuss what you thought were the best and worst aspects of P.T. in the comments below.

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