Back in August of 2014 players on PlayStation 4 got the chance to play the first ever playable trailer that was known simply as P.T., a first-person horror game like no other. The game ends revealing that this playable trailer was for (at the time) the upcoming game Silent Hills a new installment in the game series, sadly production of the game was canceled. Along with the cancelation came the removal of P.T. from PlayStation Store rendering already downloaded copies of the game unplayable, a move that’s still heavily criticized.
Some can argue that P.T. was not the first game to dome something like this, the no combat, first-person horror experience. It’s true, four years prior to P.T. gamers were scared by Amnesia: The Dark Descent, a survival horror game where players explore a dark castle while trying to avoid the creatures that stalk its corridors with no means to protect themselves. A month after Amnesia was released; Alien: Isolation came out with the same formula except there was a combat mechanic that would allow players to defend themselves against other humans and the dreaded malfunctioning Working Joe synthetics while not truly being able to defend themselves against the Alien itself. A year before P.T.’s release, Outlast was released putting gamers in a dark asylum where the inmates are not running rampant and the only way you can see in the dark is with the night vision setting on your character’s camcorder, the only way to defend yourself is to hide.
You can say P.T. has no combat mechanics either so what makes it special compared to the other games mentioned? It put players in a believable and relatable location, home, not a far-off land, castle, mansion, space station, and asylum but a typical everyday home many players could relate to. The story, it’s more real like something you can pluck from the headlines somewhere else from around the world. The terror, you’re in a ghost story, not some tale being told about someone else having a paranormal experience but you’re the star of the ghost story! It took elements from its predecessors and tweaked it in a way that it actually made it better, making something unique and timeless and it’s because of this it’s changing how horror games are being developed, developers are now using P.T. as the foundation of their future works, taking elements from it and tweaking it to either improve or make it their own.
The playable trailer alone has spawned two great games, Resident Evil 7 and Layers of Fear. Both first-person horror games, even though both are greatly different, Resident Evil 7 has combat, and a puzzle solving narrative while Layers of Fear is more exploratory and story driven. Two upcoming horror games, Visage and Allison Road, have stated that they were influenced by P.T. and towards the end of 2017 players got to experience Thai horror with Home Sweet Home which has elements resembling P.T. in it while at the same time stood on its own. That’s the beauty of P.T., it gives game developers a bit of something to work with or towards resulting in each game to be unique in its own way while still having visible influence from the original work.
Though P.T. is no longer available to play, it can still be watched online, the fact that it scared so many gamers and then became unavailable to play again makes it a legend in its own right and inspired a new generation of horror game styles that may eventually spawn the next big thing in horror games.
full playthrough of P.T.