How long does a demo usually stick with you? Sure, one showcasing a game you’re excited about could have you replaying it several times to just take it all in. There are even those rare gems floating around that serve as introductions to the game they’re representing, including content that may not be part of the final release. For instance, Final Fantasy XV’s “Platinum Demo” (now removed from storefronts) featured a standalone experience that showcased the gameplay for the full title, but involved a scenario that was completely tangential to the events of the main game. Resident Evil 7 similarly had a separate demo titled “Kitchen” (part of a demo collection disc for PSVR) that centered on content not featured in the final release.
Unlike those two, however, the notorious “demo” known as P.T. never had a game release on the market alongside the teaser. In fact, for many, P.T. is in and of itself a full-fledged game that stands completely on its own. Which, frankly, isn’t surprising. While meant as a “playable teaser” for the once-in-development Silent Hills, its content is divorced from the main trappings of the franchise; discarding the spooky town and foggy roads in favor of claustrophobic hallways and a non-Euclidean spacial loop all serving an extremely minimal horror experience.
As the story goes, P.T.’s surprise release and subsequent surprise reveal as a teaser to a Silent Hill game led by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro, starring Norman Reedus, lit the internet ablaze with hype. Of course, due to the tenuous relationship between Konami and Kojima further degrading, Silent Hills was sent to pasture as Kojima broke off his ties to the company. Eventually, Konami removed P.T. from the Playstation Store and it was lost to the ether. Unable to download it again, people would go so far as to purchase entire PS4s off eBay that still had it installed, with prices severely gouged.
Following the removal of P.T., its legacy only became further cemented in the general consciousness of games media. What was once seen as an innovative foray into revealing a new game quickly became the martyr for a disappearing medium where archival efforts are viewed all too regularly as akin to piracy. What’s a community to do when a megacorp just wants to make slot-machine mobile games? The combination of trailblazing alongside inaccessibility spurred several to answer this question and take the initiative to entirely remake P.T. from scratch.
Similarly inaccessible now, one of the first recreations was from Qimsar (@Qimsar) and one which was promptly shut down by Konami. It’s a cut-and-dry situation, perhaps confusing given Konami’s litigious activity over something they’ve already shitcanned/have no support for, but it merits attention given how accurately it strove to deliver the same experience as the original P.T.
After shutting down from a cease-and-desist courtesy of Konami, Qimsar offered their deep knowledge in an effort to help Artur Łączkowski (@arturlaczkowski) with their own version of a P.T.-make. Ironically, it was originally released as something of a playable teaser as well, offering only a slice of the full P.T. while its development was ongoing. It too vanished after some time, but was simply moved to the creator’s Patreon with access as part of a donor tier.
Some time in the period between Łączkowski’s initial release and its public removal, there was another remake attempt from Radius Gordello (@RadiusGordello) that brought P.T. to life via the Unreal Engine (hence its title, Unreal PT) which even included VR support for all of your unnerving horror needs. While featuring all the loops and puzzles of the original, Unreal PT modified the ending slightly for the sake of consistency to the chagrin of many hardcore fans. Eventually however, it too would be removed suddenly. While still a completely serviceable recreation, Unreal PT nonetheless left many desperate for a 1-to-1 remake, especially so once it too had vanished.
In a lull where hope was lost for many, enter Happy Snake Games (@happysnakegames) who deal with the perfect style of game for P.T. recreation: extremely cute, happy-go-lucky art games that elevate a silly atmosphere with excitement from limited interaction systems. As anyone would assume, HSG launched a successful Kickstarter for QT: COMPENDIUM OF CUTENESS, which was a collection of three tiles, one of which being the titular QT. In it, the player encounters a lo-fi recreation of P.T.’s hallways that quickly gives way to more familiar, cuter territory for HSG. Well worth exploring in its own right, it’s fascinating to see the humble teaser straight up give way to “P.T.-likes.” There are also several titles inspired by P.T., such as Layers of Fear, but none edge as close to the original set-up (and subvert it so expertly) as QT does.
But, even with a nearly-there recreation and a wealth of playable games offering similar experiences, fans still clamour for the ability to play something that fully recreates the whole of the original P.T. Suddenly, in swoops the hero of this story: Artur Łączkowski! Returning from the shadows, Łączkowski has dropped the completed version of their playable teaser: PT Emulation.
A fitting title, as it tries its best to absolutely achieve the most perfect rendition of P.T., and doing it so well that it may as well be emulated. Returning to those hallways, it’s easy to see why P.T. captivated so many with its original release. It’s gripping, wholly frightening in its low-key presentation and slow, slow burn.
If you’ve never gotten a chance to enjoy P.T., there’s certainly no better time than now. Especially so if Konami decides to swing the hammer once again. Enjoy the time-tested halls of that manor, but keep your wits about you… You’ll never know when a C&D will show up at your door.
Catherine Brinegar is a trans game developer and filmmaker who explores the surreal and abstract in her work. Beyond her creative endeavors she enjoys losing herself inside other worlds, interactive and not. Finding inspiration in everything, Catherine aims to see all the world has to offer, through the continual conversation of art. You can keep up with her on twitter @cathroon.