The scariest thing in the world is my own imagination. Seriously, you have no idea what inhuman horrors crawl around in there. Neither do I, until it is unleashed and I just want to run to the nearest hole and stay there until morning.
Terrifying personal mindscapes aside, they can’t exist without some sort of trigger. Every once in a while, such triggers appear and I’m stuck rigid to my seat. Too frightened to stay, too compelled to move. These events come in many forms but the most memorable that towers above everything else is Regan McNeill’s bedroom door in The Exorcist.
There, that one. The door in the background. As Father Merrin and Father Karras take a well-earned rest from the demon Pazuzu, the bedroom door remains closed. All through the film, that door is approached several times. And every time, it reveals something more horrific. But that’s the point. Every second that the camera gets closer to the door, ready to reveal its terror, my mind races with unholy thoughts. What is going to be behind there this time? Do I want to know? Can I tear myself away?
At the time of writing, the video game trade show Gamescom is winding down in Cologne, Germany. Second only to E3 in size and scope, Gamescom attracted every major publisher and game manufacturer from around the world. Many games were revealed and most of them looked amazing.
Sony had a press conference to show off their new wares for the Playstation 4. Somewhere in the middle of the briefing, a strange video advertising something called “P.T.” appeared. It contained a talking, bleeding bag, creepy hallways and dark mystery. The video said that it was an “interactive teaser” and it was now available for download. What lay in wait on my PS4 is, hands down, the most fascinating and terrifying “game” I’ve played in 2014.
The main reason for this is this hallway.
This is where P.T. (short for ‘playable teaser’) essentially begins. This hallway. An incredibly realistic rendering of a mundane section of a house. Bland pictures on the wall, faded paint, polished floorboards and some of the most effective lighting I’ve ever seen in a game.
As I take my first steps, sounds emerge. It’s raining outside and somewhere else in the house is a news report about a murder. Already, I’m tense.
Several times throughout the game, I walked down this hallway. Most of the time, it is the only safe haven in the house. Each time I creep along, I come to that right turn to the next part of the house. And each time, I’m terrified of what might be waiting for me around that corner.
Eventually, I find out. But it never lessens the raw nerve-scraping terror I feel whenever I steel myself to approach that corner again. In fact, considering the disturbing and shocking things that are in other parts of the house, the corner only becomes increasingly less pleasant.
This is insane. It’s a computer-generated video game hallway. How in the blue hell can it be so terrifying? Because my mind allows it to be and because the developers of P.T. have executed their goals so precisely. That’s how. The details are staggering. The family photos covered in a sinister vibe act as tombstones in front of scattered pill packets and beer bottles. The phone doesn’t work. Food has been left on counter tops and gone bad. Whatever happened in this house, it wasn’t good.
So as it turns out, P.T. is an interactive teaser trailer for the new Silent Hill game reportedly being made by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro. Which makes it all the more exciting. The Silent Hill franchise has enjoyed the lavish surroundings of mediocrity for far too long. If P.T. is any indication of where Kojima and Del Toro are taking the series, it could be truly groundbreaking.
The events of P.T. chilled me to the bone more than any other game in years. Its photorealistic visuals, creepy sound design and baffling mystery all lead to a very exciting future for whatever full product this eventually becomes.
It also proves that, just like the bedroom door in The Exorcist, it doesn’t take much to set your mind on fire with horror. Just a hallway. The most terrifying hallway I’ve ever seen.