27
Dec
14

PT

pt

Happy holidays! Hopefully you’ve had a pleasant Christmas.  Seeing nice people, eating good food, and relaxing.  What have I been up to? Mainly, I’ve been playing an upsetting combination of Alien: Isolation, LISA, and PT.  It’s nice to have a current generation console again, but even just waiting a year after their release, I have a tidy backlog of games to play through.  PT almost fell off my radar entirely, being so limited in scope.  Since it’s release, it’s been revealed to be a teaser for a possible entry in the Silent Hill franchise, being headlined by Hideo Kojima, Guillermo del Toro, and Norman Reedus.  It’s an exciting line-up of talent, but it’s still worth lingering on what PT accomplished as a self-contained piece of work.

I’ve yet to complete the game myself.  I’ve reached the final “puzzle,” which appears to be open to debate in how it is solved.  PT is not a game that can be completed on one’s own.  There are too many hidden details that the player would have to spend an inordinate amount of time to solve. It’s not impossible, but I have a hard time picturing the person who would solve on their own.  And while you will need to collaborate with other players, this only ends up reinforcing how alone you are when you play it yourself.  There are still problems that have not been entirely solved – you cannot rest easy knowing that you can just look up a guide when things get to be too intense.  It’s quite a wonderful accomplishment for a game of this scope and scale.

PT succeeds in creating tension between anticipation and confrontation.  Here, it is polished to a mirror sheen.  In much of survival horror, you have plenty of confrontation, which is amplified through use of spectacle (see Resident Evil 6.)  Anticipation is built in knowing something is coming, but not know what it is and when it will happen.  Your mind will be sent into overdrive in trying to prepare for the possibilities.  But when it’s left ambiguous enough, your mind will race ceaselessly, leaving you as a human pile of anxiety waiting to spill over into panic.  A game like Resident Evil 6 conditions you to always expect the confrontation, and leaves little room for your mind to race.  Instead, it tries to make the confrontations bigger, in the hopes that maybe doubling down on what might have once been a frightening idea will somehow make it more overwhelming.  But if you understand the trick that’s being used, then it doesn’t matter how big you make the confrontation.

PT offers you a drip feed of awful things to contemplate and leaves your origin and motivation entirely open-ended.  You will spin your mind trying to figure out exactly what it is and what you’re doing.  When PT does decide to pull the trigger on confrontation, it is incredibly effective.  And being such a small-scale game, it did not have to justify its existence with a great deal of marketing, signaling what you should expect so that you know what you’re buying (PT is free after all.)  It’s difficult to speculate as to whether or not PT translates to a full-fledged game – which will require a great deal of marketing and signaling.  But PT does tell us that those at the creative helm of the game have an aptitude for creating frightening experiences, and may have what it takes to put the Silent Hill series back on the same level as its earlier entries.

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