Hideo Kojima loves veiled reveals. Having just hidden Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain through a surprisingly complicated ARG which included a fake development house, not too many people considered that he would strike again so soon. Mysterious new horror IP P.T., then, didn't raise any red flags when it showed up unceremoniously on the PS4 Store and live on the floor at Gamescom. Though shaken with fear, those first lucky players were treated to a spectacular announcement: P.T. was, in fact, not a new property, but a new entry in the venerable Silent Hill franchise, Silent Hills, spearheaded by creative giants Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro along with voice talent from Norman Reedus.
Silent Hills - Developed by Kojima Productions
This sort of massive announcement, unheralded by PR releases and filled with the cryptic messaging and pointed elements that often come packaged with a Kojima game, almost begs for some all-but-baseless speculation. Aside from the wonderfully terrifying moments of P.T., all has been silent from Kojima, del Toro, and their development team. So, let's take a look at what we know so far about the P.T./Silent Hills project and where it might go from there:
#3 Graphical Fidelity
The Silent Hill series has not yet made a proper showing on a current-generation console, let alone offered a solid original title that has anywhere near matched the now-classic Silent Hill 2, a game often considered to be one of the greatest, if not the absolute best, horror game of all time. Putting the often-incredible series back in the hands of strong creative directors, developed on the strong hardware of the PS4, with Norman Reedus giving life to the main character seems like quite the winning formula
At the core of the game's back end is its potential graphical power, a massive advantage granted to it through PS4 exclusivity: development for only one console means that Silent Hills will be highly optimized for its intended hardware, pushing the system far beyond the otherwise far lower limits of the Xbox One and Wii U. While gameplay, narrative, and tone will make or break the eventual final release, graphics provide a crucial point of interaction between player and game, and the graphical power of the PS4 will allow developers to push atmosphere to heights never before possible for the Silent Hill series.
#2 First-Person Perspective
The most interesting part about P.T. is that, as Kojima has termed it, it is not so much a playable version of Silent Hills under a different name but a "playable teaser." Much like the much-loved demo for The Stanley Parable, P.T. does not represent a final product but rather something along the lines of what the game will eventually feel like. This marks a very powerful new development for game promotions - rather than a vertical slice as per traditional demos, we may very well start to see a new wave of playable teasers that offer a much more powerful look at the growth of a title.
A fascinating prospect of the playable teaser that is P.T. lies in the veil of uncertainty it throws upon gameplay. Knowing that Silent Hills will eventually be a highly different game from P.T., we must call into question every element that's present; even seemingly core components, like its first-person perspective, might eventually change for the final release. The Silent Hill franchise has, after all, traditionally featured a third-person camera view along with a suite of action responses to horror rather than the shockingly helpless protagonist in P.T.. Each path certainly has its own merits, but the exploration of varying mechanics at least ensures that the design process for Silent Hills will be thorough and effective.
Though not explicitly introduced as a mechanical component of P.T, the PS4's focus on streaming always means that fresh uses of Twitch are always a possibility. On top of the hardware and software potential, Hideo Kojima has been actively promoting playing P.T. over Twitch with friends, advocating for the ever-growing trend to play games over live streaming services. Horror titles have always been a favorite on Twitch and YouTube since the appearance of indie horror titan Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and any new innovations will surely bring about great new possibilities for fans.
While no specific multiplayer or online integration has been confirmed at the time of writing, Kojima's interest in the potential of such services means we will likely see some feature included in Silent Hills. Whether this ends up taking the form of the highly engaging hybrid mechanics made famous by Dark Souls, something more traditional, or a more specialized offering as seen in the unfortunately poorly executed Daylight remains to be seen. Kojima and del Toro are career-long innovators, so we are likely in for a treat when Silent Hills hits shelves.