This has been a pretty good year for horror games. The year started off with a bang with Resident Evil 7, a game that wisely returned the increasingly over-the-top sequels to the franchise’s roots. We also had Outlast 2, a sequel to the good game (and excellent DLC) that launched the first person horror games like Amnesia and Layers of Fear. We also had improbable sequels to horror titles like The Evil Within 2 (launching today!) and Prey. There have been other games that are not so much horror title as they are creepily unsettling, like Little Nightmares. And there’s been the underrated Senua’s Sacrifice, a scary brawler that remains one of the most underappreciated games of 2017. But if I’m being honest, none of these great games came anywhere close to being the scariest game of all time. That title still belongs to the most frightening, most unnerving title we’ve every played: PT.
As many fans already know, P.T. (“Playable Teaser”) originated as a marketing demo for an upcoming Silent Hills game that never came to development, though we didn’t know it was a marketing ploy at the time. P. T. itself quietly appeared as a free game for download in August of 2014. Players who tried it noted it’s amazing graphics, terrifying events and complicated puzzles. The game is simple enough; you awake in a room, walk down a hallway with pictures and random objects to a door, and walk through the door to wind up at the front of the hallway again. You take a second trip down the hall and then a third before any subtle changes start to appear. Before long, though, objects begin to move, monsters begin to appear, and the unnerving nature of the game takes over.
There are some elements worth complaining about with P. T. The puzzles were meant to entertain players for weeks and so they are deliberately vague and ambiguous. Solving the puzzles, even when you know what to do, can be frustratingly imprecise. That aside, though, the game is wonderfully simple. Even your friends who don’t like games and don’t play games can be talked into playing through this one. The graphics remain – three years later – arresting and impressive. The details in the walls and lighting makes the game look like a live-action movie. And the simple use of redundancy to drive suspense is powerfully done here. You play through that hallway several times anxious for something to happen, and then that moment when you first encounter that hulking monster by the front door is a moment I think every gamer will always remember.
Again, we’re lucky this year to have so many horror titles and many other independent titles that are also finding new ways to scare gamers. When you’re looking for a game to play this holiday, we hope you’re one of the lucky people to still have P. T. on your Playstation. As good as games have gotten, there’s still nothing scarier than that one.