Since the 1970s, Konami has been dishing out memorable gaming experiences spanning arcade cabinets and video game consoles. In 2014, it may have delivered one of its most unforgettable and most talked about experiences with a simple tech demo. P.T. was never meant to be a full-fledged title, instead serving as an interactive teaser for one of gaming’s most beloved titles—Silent Hill. But circumstances changed shortly after the demo was released, and with it came years of discourse and a legacy that forever changed the face of horror gaming.
Yes, that all sounds pretty hyperbolic. However, it’s impossible to deny the important impact P.T. had on the genre and what it meant for the future of the Silent Hill series. Before getting too deep into the aftermath of P.T.’s release (and subsequent disappearance), it’s best to understand what it is and what it was meant to be.
Tech demos aren’t a new concept in gaming, but despite what P.T. was intended to be, Konami’s actions and the demo’s quality really sowed something completely unexpected.
Silent Hill P.T. Explained: What is P.T.?
“P.T.” literally meant “playable teaser,” indicating Konami’s intention of never fledging the project out into anything bigger. P.T., which was released exclusively on PS4, was exactly as intended, and was never meant to be anything more. Rather, it was a hype mechanic for Silent Hills, the intended sequel to the popular Silent Hill franchise. Starring Norman Reedus and directed by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro, Silent Hills was shaping up to be one of the biggest things to happen to the franchise in a long while. But more on that later.
P.T. wasn’t indicative of the mechanics or camera angle of Silent Hills, but instead set up the notion that it was going to be a very cerebral and unsettling experience. Horrifying imagery like a fetus in a sink and the unseen dangers of a specter named Lisa amped up the tension as players navigated the suburban abode on a seemingly endless loop in a first-person perspective.
Though players don’t know it, their progress is marred by cryptic puzzles. When they solve one puzzle, they progress in the direction of the hidden ending. Should they continue the loop without completing the puzzles, Lisa will eventually pop in and seemingly kill the unseen character, resetting the current loop.
Those that complete all of the cryptic puzzles unlock the ability to escape the home, which results in a transition into a game trailer. It’s revealed that P.T. was merely a teaser for Silent Hills. The trailer briefly introduces us to Norman Reedus, sans a baby backpack, and the promised talents of Kojima and del Toro.
As can be expected, once the purpose of P.T. was revealed to the public, the reaction was unsurprisingly positive.
Who Developed P.T.?
P.T. was fully developed by Kojima Productions, the studio behind Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Death Stranding. The Silent Hills teaser was Kojima Productions’ second-to-last project before Kojima officially parted ways with Konami.
During development, Kojima used the pseudonym “7780s Studio.” 7780 is a reference to the Japanese city of Shizouka, as Kojima explained in a 2014 interview. According to the developer, 7780 is the postal code of the city, and Shizuoka sounds similar to the Japanese word for “quiet,” or “shizuka.” Of course, “quiet” being a synonym for the “silent,” this was used to reference Silent Hills. There’s some discourse as to the meaning behind 7780, however, with some suggesting it’s the surface area of Shizuoka.
Kojima Productions is still an active developer today and is currently working on two untitled projects—an Xbox Game Studios game and a Death Stranding sequel.
What is Silent Hills?
The whole purpose behind P.T. was to tease the existence of Silent Hills. As part of the classic Konami survival horror series, Silent Hill, Silent Hills was poised to be the ninth entry. How it would play out or what the general story would be remained a secret. All that was known was revealed through the playable teaser, and that was that Norman Reedus signed on as the protagonist, and horror director Guillermo del Toro was involved. There wasn’t even an indication as to why “Hill” was pluralized for the first time in the series’ history.
Unfortunately, less than a year after P.T.’s success, del Toro had told attendees of a San Francisco Film Society event that the game had been shelved. The following day, Reedus tweeted messages that coincided with del Toro’s claims. By April 27, 2015, Silent Hills was officially dead.
Why Was Silent Hills Cancelled?
Initially, there was plenty of speculation about why the game was canceled. However, the answer started to become clear with the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Despite being the series’ creator and serving as the game’s director, Kojima’s name was removed from packaging and any associated materials upon its release. This only confirmed that Konami’s corporate restructuring meant severing ties with Kojima and his production company. This put Silent Hills in jeopardy, and Konami officially canned all development.
While fans were incredibly displeased, Norman Reedus suggests that the game’s cancellation was for the better. “When [Silent Hills] went away, I was bummed, but when Hideo described what we were doing next, I completely forgot about it,” he explained in a 2019 interview. The project he references in his quote wound up being Death Stranding, an action title that featured Reedus in the leading role and Guillermo del Toro as a supporting character.
Will Silent Hills Ever Release?
The current state of Silent Hills is that it’s dead forever. Konami has not announced any intention to continue the franchise, though rumors suggest that Bloober Team (Blair Witch, Layer of Fear) is behind a new Silent Hill entry, which could possibly be a remake of Silent Hill 2.
In June 2022, Christopher Gans, the director of the 2006 Silent Hill movie, stated he had finished a script for an unannounced third movie. Gans noted that the film was meant to relaunch the series, leading to new games. Gans’ claims or even the existence of a game by Bloober Team have never been substantiated by Konami.
It is safe to say that the Silent Hills that was being developed by Kojima is never going to see the light of day.
Can I Play P.T.?
As if the loss of Silent Hills wasn’t bad enough, Konami made the pain worse On April 29, 2015. Amidst news of the cancellation, the publisher revealed it would remove P.T. from the PlayStation Store. Anyone that hadn’t already downloaded the game would be unable to do so. Konami clearly set out to completely eradicate any evidence of Silent Hills, but some PlayStation users refuse to let P.T. go completely.
Some fans recreated the experience for PC, dubbing it Unreal PT. Others kept the teaser downloaded on their PS4s and have been selling consoles with that as the primary selling point. If neither option works, there’s always YouTube as the experience has been streamed and recorded plenty of times, and the legacy lives on through those uploads.
Horror Gaming in a Post P.T. World
Though Silent Hills and P.T. may effectively no longer exist, their impact is undeniable. The teaser, as it turns out, created a whole new genre of gaming, a subgenre of survival horror. For the most part, these games feature a protagonist trapped within a haunted location, forced to do a bit of exploration and backtracking to find objects or trigger environmental changes that allow the player to progress forward.
One of the shining examples of a P.T.-inspired success is Visage. In this haunting experience, players navigate a house that frequently alters its appearance the longer they remain inside. The site of death and dismay, the home is full of surprises as players do all they can to avoid being its next victim.
Visage is a bit more evolved than P.T. as players collect objects and actively search for the truth behind the building’s dark past. Like P.T., there is no combat, but players can protect themselves by sticking to light sources and keeping their sanity high.
In the wake of Silent Hills’ cancellation, Lilith Ltd took up the mantle and started development on a spiritual successor to P.T. Titled Allison Road, the game shared very similar visuals as Kojima’s playable teaser, and was explained to have very similar gameplay. Lilith Ltd. even noted that, like P.T., there is minimal story to unravel, instead focusing more on exploration and terrifying players.
Aillson Road gathered a sizable social media following, and it appeared everything was going smoothly with development. However, several bumps along the way, including a canceled Kickstarter, a changed developer, and ambiguity regarding the Nintendo Switch release painted a grim picture.
Though developers aimed for a release in the third quarter of 2016, on June 4, 2016, the Allison Road Twitter announced that all development has stopped. There was a brief spot of hope in August 2016 when the original creator formed a new publishing company and took over the publishing rights of Allison Road.
There have been no updates since, suggesting that all development on Allison Road has stopped.
Question: Is Death Stranding Connected to P.T.?
Answer: Unless Kojima is keeping it a very big secret, there isn’t any connection between P.T. and Death Stranding. The developer did include a neat Easter egg in the Director’s Cut of the game, however. During a dream sequence, Sam Porter Bridges (Reedus) awakens to find a shadowy figure in his shower. The shadow twitches violently when Sam approaches before attacking him. It’s believed that this figure is meant to be Lisa’s ghost from P.T.
Question: What Was the Last Silent Hill Game?
Answer: The last Silent Hill game to release was Book of Memories for the PlayStation Vita. Book of Memories launched in 2012 and was an unusual entry for the series. Rather than follow the typical third-person shooter, survival horror format, it was a dungeon crawler that featured four-player multiplayer. The game received a mixed reception and was criticized for not remaining faithful to the series.
Question: Can I Redownload P.T.?
Answer: Unfortunately, there is no simple method to add P.T. back to your PS4 library if you have deleted it. There are claims that using your PC as a proxy server and downloading a program called SUWI (2020) makes redownloading the game possible, however, it does not work on PS5.
The Game That Changed Horror
It’s hard to deny the impact that P.T. had on the horror genre, but it’s also impossible to overlook the complete hole that it left when Konami opted to shift gears away from Silent Hills. I’d be remiss to find a demo that had such a significant impact, let alone a playable teaser that didn’t even indicate anything about the game itself, save for the name and the parties involved. P.T. is one of those games that will go down as a legend of horror gaming, similar to Resident Evil.
To think that it was simply a demo that, once the code was cracked, really took no time to complete at all. Kojima Productions put a crazy amount of effort into something that, really, served only one purpose that Konami later eradicated. Whether we’ll ever see something come of the Silent Hill series in the near future is pure speculation at this point, with rumors suggesting a coming revival, but I can likely guarantee that we’ll never see something as surprisingly influential as P.T. again. Its scope really doesn’t justify the significant impact that it had, and yet with it, an entire subgenre of horror gaming likely wouldn’t exist.