When P.T. first hit PlayStation Network, I claimed that it could reboot the tired AAA survival horror field. Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro let loose a maze of repeating nightmares and cryptic mysteries that kept the entire community guessing at what exactly was going on. A single hallway became a portal to another realm, dispensing haunting imagery at random and delivering layered clues that forced players to heighten their senses to a fine point. It was one of the most twisted yarns that 2014 delivered, offering a brief taste of what Kojima and del Toro could accomplish together. Sadly, the rough relations between Kojima and Konami left the Silent Hills project in turmoil, culminating into the project’s end. P.T. was marked for delisting and any future for the Silent Hills project, at least with Kojima and del Toro running the helm, was destroyed.
My views on P.T.’s place in horror remain unchanged: this teaser became one of the most important horror games released in ages. Kojima had already earned himself acclaim for mindbending narratives and cryptic stories, as shown in his magnum opus Metal Gear. P.T. demonstrated that Kojima could take something already bizarre and elevate it into something frighteningly bizarre. The clues to solve P.T.’s puzzles were extremely difficult to decipher, requiring players to examine thoroughly and listen closely. To this day, the solutions are not fully confirmed. They were layered to the point of impenetrability, a comparison to Kojima’s near-impenetrable narrative that laced Metal Gear.
P.T. pushed Kojima’s already abstract mentality into the outright grotesque, especially when combined with the surreal visuals of Guillermo del Toro. Del Toro’s work has always been inspired by classic horror and dark fantasy. Pan’s Labyrinth and the Hellboy series remain fleshed out ideas (sometimes quite literally), capturing a startling use of practical effects and gruesome imagery. With Kojima, del Toro’s work was able to mix the visually unsettling with an underbelly of hidden meaning. P.T. threw disturbing imagery at the player in haphazard and unpredictable ways, and del Toro’s trademark style was only heightened by Kojima’s surreal approach to both puzzles and design.
Sadly, the tale of Kojima and Konami has squashed all hope of the Silent Hills project coming to fruition. It simply wouldn’t be the same without both of its two key figures. Sure, del Toro’s imagery is a large contributor to P.T.’s scare factor, but Kojima’s mind-bending meaning is what made the game stick in so many gamers’ minds. Judging by the mass popularity of the game on Youtube and the bottomless amount of discussion the teaser received, it’s clear that P.T. got people talking about Silent Hills and what Kojima and del Toro could do.
It seems like a waste for either to abandon such an anticipated project. Even more so, Kojima has always approached his games with an almost fatherly mood. Like many other games that Kojima has created, Silent Hills seemed like a pet project to him, letting him bust loose in horror the same way he did with spy media in Metal Gear. The enthusiasm Kojima showed for Silent Hills was enormous, so much so that he clearly desired del Toro’s trademark aesthetic direction to be on board. P.T. was a labor of love for Kojima and it’s without question that he wanted to make Silent Hills not because he had to, but because he wanted to. P.T. hit a nerve for Kojima, letting him frighten us while also confusing us.
Of course, without the Silent Hill name, Kojima’s Silent Hills can never happen. Without a massive budget or the expensive talent of Norman Reedus, I doubt the true Silent Hills will ever happen. However, Kojima’s role in the industry is bathed in mystery; we don’t know what he’s planning to do post-Konami. Combined with the conviction he has for P.T. and Silent Hills, it would be odd to think that he doesn’t still have many ideas swirling about his mind. Sure, he can’t use the Silent Hill name, but ideas don’t need an already established name to succeed. I don’t believe there’s anything stopping Kojima from continuing Silent Hills under a new name. All of that eerie imagery has left a mark on the community, and with Kojima’s already enormous reverence from his fans, it’s not like his work won’t be followed in anticipation.
P.T. didn’t need the Silent Hill name to shake everyone up. It succeeded based on Kojima’s otherworldly approach to game design, throwing us all for a loop. Del Toro’s aesthetic direction only served to get people’s blood pumping even more. P.T. was never connected to the Silent Hills project, nor did it use any already established characters or lore. It was independent and stood alone proudly. Kojima’s respect from the community hasn’t waned and so many have paid their thanks to him as his connection to Konami was severed. There’s no reason why Kojima’s insane vision couldn’t be realized. From his pet project mentality to his rich synergy with del Toro’s aesthetic approach, this world he crafted that left us all in shock is just as potent today as it was in 2014. Silent Hills is dead, but there’s no expiration date on a creative horror experience. This needs to live on somehow.