Rewind back to August 12, 2014 and bring any kind of passing interest in the Silent Hill series… you’d find yourself in the midst of an online explosion of hype surrounding a certain demo codenamed Playable Teaser (P.T.). This was the red herring for Silent Hills; what was to be the latest instalment in the much-loved survival horror franchise about some sleepy mid-west American town perpetually shrouded in fog and inhabited by deformed monstrosities.
If the unsettling atmosphere of P.T. promised us anything, it was that this new iteration was set up to succeed – an anticipated return to form for a series that had long since lost its way after passing into the hands of American developers post-2004.
I’ve talked about the whole episode before on this blog. I was there to take part in the hype when the game was first announced and set the internet ablaze. Similarly when, in April 2015, rumours began circulating that the project had been cancelled in light of Hideo Kojima’s reported issues within Konami and also the studio’s seemingly abrupt change of focus from console to mobile gaming. On April 27, 2015, these rumours were confirmed and Silent Hills officially cancelled.
As of writing, P.T. is no more (I say that in hope that it will, at some point in the future, be made available to gamers once again) – the online demo pulled by Konami as they look to erase any evidence of their past failures. Now the only people able to play it are those who had already downloaded it onto their PS4 systems pre-cancellation. But in its short existence it became one of the most popular horror ‘games’ in PlayStation history, going on to gain undoubted cult status and a somewhat mythical quality that only keeps growing. YouTube videos featuring play-throughs of the teaser (only a 30-45 minute long experience at best) are as popular as ever. Many fans still hope there is some way in which the project might be picked up again; most of us accepted a while back that it was time to move on and Silent Hills likely isn’t coming back any time soon.
A lot of other people, to whom the words ‘Silent Hill’ meant nothing before and don’t suddenly mean anything now, won’t understand the hype. That’s fine; cult movies and video games wouldn’t be that if everyone ‘got it’.
Some of those who did get it have since taken to paying homage to the source material in creative, imaginative ways. If Silent Hills never comes, then it will at least have cast the shadow of what could have been on other artistic endeavours. Such as the video below; a short film that has been doing the rounds online over the past few days. This impressive homage is the main reason I’m writing about P.T. again today. It admittedly made me pine for what’s past, but it also feels like something entirely fresh. This is the kind of mark Silent Hills has left. It is quite possibly a sign of the influence that may yet be felt in horror movies and video games to come in future. In that way, the Silent Hill game that never was may just live on forever. Enjoy!