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P.T. Silent Hills Experience Dissected

An In-Depth Tear Through Hideo Kojima’s Latest Work That Isn’t Metal Gear

P.T. Silent Hills

<<Spoiler Alert>>

Don’t touch that dial now… we’re just getting started.. Yesterday many of us were haunted by the chilling piece of work that is P.T. Now as I’m sure most of you folks out there with an internet connection have already discerned that this ended with the teaser of the new addition to the Silent Hill franchise formally dubbed “Silent Hills”. This is being credited to the man behind many gamers’ legendary experiences Hideo Kojima, geek fiction visionary Guillermo del Toro, and appearing to star everyone’s favorite crossbow wielding boondock saint Norman Reedus. I’ll get to some opinions and speculation on that later, but for now I’d really like to focus on the experience that was P.T. proper.

P.T. noted as standing for “Playable Teaser” released yesterday on PSN after being announced as a new horror game from 7780s Studio at Sony’s Gamescom press conference. Its certainly an interesting experience if you are a horror fan and you happen to have a PS4, otherwise there are tons of people streaming or posting playthroughs online if that suits your fancy.

I’ve found an interesting detail or two to share, if you’ll indulge the play by play analysis. Take them as you will, Kojima is known to troll his audience with misdirection before they release (Don’t get me started on The Phantom Pain). We begin with some fairly cryptic but fitting text.

Watch out. The gap in the door…

it’s a separate reality.

The only me is me.

Are you sure the only you is you?

We start this spiral of insanity lying down in a nearly empty poorly lit room with only a door and what appears to be only a common roach’s respite. The door opens slowly on its own leading us to the hall that appears to have once been a warm home now neglected. We’re greeted by many typical non-distinct pictures lining the walls and a newscast reporting a brutal domestic murder over a radio, there is a door in the hall to a bathroom and really only one linear path forward through this hall, past a front door and down a set of stairs leading to another door. Everything is peachy right?

Passing through this door it locks behind us and we find ourselves where we started. I wandered the hall again abruptly greeted by rapid knocking from the nearby bathroom door, grasping my situation I began to investigate this impossible space. I began looking at various pictures and knick knacks, many showing nothing of interest except for a ripped picture of a woman towards the beginning of the hall. After taking a closer look the photo read:

My voice, can you hear it?

This sign, can you read it?

I’ll wait forever if you’ll just come to me.

Just looking around I found a piece of this photo purely by accident, on a nearby houseplant. A flash of text displays:

poi il suo indice scivolò sulla mia mano. Translation: “then his index finger brushed against my hand”

I continue onward, This time the door to the end stairway is closed on my face. It’s locked, making my way back down the hall the door to the bathroom is creaked open, an infant’s cry can be heard on the other side. I try to open it, but a hand closes it quickly from the inside. I move on and repeated the cycle, but this time the bathroom door is open. Its dark, roaches scurry about their way passively and a flashlight can be seen and picked up from the floor. The first thing I notice is a large peephole in the shower wall clear to the other side of the wall in the main hallway. My imagination can’t help but wander at what horrible story could have been behind that. But barely after finishing my thought I looked in the sink.

PT Silent Hills

 

There was a pitiful creature, skinless with no discernible features but a gaping mouth and an oblong shaped head crying an infant’s cry, its hard to say if it was even once human. I left it to its fate, repeated my cycle, and resumed my investigation efforts. This time the news report from before continues only interrupted by in and out transmissions of a different man.

Don’t touch that dial now, we’re just getting started..

Don’t trust the tap water

204863

Look behind you

I said look behind you!

The hallway is darker now, a family picture near the front door now displays an X with the writing Gouge it out! Interacting with it blackens the woman’s eye in the photograph allowing me to finish another cycle. I find another piece of the photo at the bottom of the end stairway after some searching.

Non mi mossi più nell’attesa inerte. Translated: During the inert waiting, I stopped moving.

A cycle changes once again with a loud crash and broken glass by the front door, end hallway now displaying the text:

Forgive me, Lisa

There’s a monster inside of me

For the sake of brevity I’ll quickly reveal the photo piece locations and some of the flashes of text seen on screen after picking them up with their quick and dirty translations. (Some of them repeat)

-Look at the bottles under the digital clock

-In the houseplant near the clock

-The pink teddy bear

-In the corner of the ceiling near the bathroom door

-On the stairs at the end of the hall

-Press R3 in the options menu

Glaubte ich ein telefon zu hören: I thought I heard a phone.

Und durch Nebel schwindenden bewusstseins:  And dwindling due to fog awareness.

Sussurrei seu nome: Whispered his name.

I can hear them calling to me from HELL (Displayed on the wall near the front door after running back and forth between this phrase and the word “Hello!” by the phone at the corner of the hallway)

So this is where it really starts getting weird from a design standpoint, the puzzles start getting a bit convoluted (If they weren’t already!) Strange 4th wall breaking events reminiscent of Eternal Darkness or even the Psycho Mantis encounter (HA! go figure) I get the feeling there are some random elements at this point if there weren’t already as I have heard many people getting considerably different experiences, but it seems after the photo piece search is over (or perhaps randomly) A new mechanic begins involving well.. this.

PT Silent Hills

This girl can be found in numerous locations and it seems like the giggling of the sinkfetus confirms solving whatever stage of the puzzle you are on.

204863

204863

204863 (Yeah that probably has significance)

At this point some screen tearing took place followed by a red screen with a wall of white text all reading “I’m heading there now.” in several different languages.

There is also another screen displaying the text: “Knowing you, I was sure you’d notice this game and play it. I will never – can never – forget that day 20 years ago. I have something to tell you. Contact me. – J”

Now for the woman in white, I feel like you need to find her in several locations eventually focusing on the phone as a requirement to complete the game, but honestly its really unclear! Here is where I found her and a lovely sampler of nightmare fuel to sate you this evening.

-Outside window by the phone.

-Looking in the bathroom mirror.

-Standing in the bathroom

-Standing near the basement door

-End of hallway from the starting room

-Standing by the clock

PT Silent Hills

PT Silent Hills

PT Silent Hills

Its possible for her to attack and kill you, but its unclear to me what effect this has when you re-spawn from death. Eventually I was able to focus on the phone and hear the radio man say “You’ve been chosen” which unlocks the door and leads out to the end of the game and the Silent Hills trailer.

Dad was such a drag..

Every day he’d eat the same kind of food, dress the same, sit in front of the same kind of games..

Yeah, he was just that kind of guy.

But then one day, he goes and kills us all!

He couldn’t even be original about the way he did it.

I’m not complaining… I was dying of boredom anyway

But guess what? I will be coming back, and I’m bringing my new toys with me.

After the trailer it is revealed that P.T. had “no direct relation to the main title”. Despite that I’m going to analyze some things anyway.

I found the brief story of this game to be interesting as well, the ending dialogue struck like they could be statements towards horror games as they exist today. Despite there being little direct narrative, the game itself painted a story of what happened in its potential events very well throwing my imagination to deliciously dark places. I’ve always found that letting a world tell a story rather than feeding it to you was an amazing method of story telling that video games lie most advantageous as a medium.

One thing I really focused in on was the number 204863. After some poking around I found something I couldn’t really ignore. There is a gene model with the identifier 204863 named Populus Trichocarpa (One hell of a coincidence if you ask me) This gene is also known as the western balsam poplar, and was the first tree species to be sequenced. It’s also worth noting that this tree is primarily indigenous to the northwest side of North America. So what does that mean you are likely asking? Well, I don’t know really but swing away with that speculation Meryl.

As for the announcement of the game itself, for the most part people seem to be pretty hype. Though given the last ten years of Tom Hulett driving the franchise into a pit of despair after the original Team Silent finished their story with Silent Hill 3 its fair to be apprehensive or cautiously optimistic about the announcement if you are a long time fan of the franchise. That said here are some opinions and speculation on how I see things.

Kojima and del Toro are a potential dream team for a horror experience. Kojima despite his aversion to horror as personal entertainment truly pours his soul into his projects, and will not be satisfied with anything less than showstopping quality. His creative uses of programming in 4th wall breaking events and mastery of game design coupled with del Toro’s ability to suspend disbelief and inspire awe with his work will make for an amazing experience. Although as a long time fan of the franchise, its hard to swallow every new entry to the Silent Hill series. I noticed in the teaser trailer credits that none of the names of the original Team Silent members were present, and honestly I would personally prefer that this were a new horror IP.

That led to the thought that it might actually be just that in a way. Its no secret that Konami likes to throw the name Silent Hill around any time they can, I mean it sells, that is a smart business decision. I’m willing to bet that this game won’t force ties to the original series, and stand as a unique story similar to Silent Hill 2.

Also I totally support Norman Reedus in the role of a cerebral horror protagonist, its not as well known as some of his other more action oriented parts that many folks will identify him with, but he actually played a great part in the very cerebral “Masters of Horror” episode “John Carpenter’s Cigarette Burns” back in 2005. You can actually watch this episode for free on Vimeo or Youtube and I highly recommend it.

Even as a long time disappointed but still loving fan of the Silent Hill series and the Survival Horror genre, this one is definitely towards the top of my watch list for 2015-2016. I hope anyone interested can enjoy the P.T. experience as much as I did. See you on the next one space cowboys.

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