Make it a (Virtual) Reality: P.T.

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One of Gamescom 2014’s biggest announcements very nearly slipped everyone earlier this week when Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) announced a new horror title named P.T., with a playable teaser released onto the PlayStation 4 Store. Looking back on the reveal, its deliberate shroud of mystery and placement straight after a showing of Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain should have been clear signs that it was more Konami trickery. Sure enough, P.T. turned out to really be an extended teaser for a new Silent Hill title, Silent Hills.

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To unlock the teaser reveal, players had to endure an especially gruelling series of cryptic puzzles, unbearable atmosphere and vicious jump scares. It’s no easy task to say the least, with Kojima himself later commenting that his team at Kojima Productions had purposefully made the teaser as frightening possible. Following the announcement, VRFocus speculated that Silent Hills itself might perhaps be a virtual reality (VR) compatible title, but what about P.T. itself? Would it be bearable in VR?

P.T. certainly already bears some of the hallmarks of a strong VR experience. Its first-person perspective isn’t burdened with on-screen information such as health or inventory, which usually needs optimisation to work within VR. Then there’s the title’s deliberately slowly, plodding pace which feels just right for VR (bar one section towards the end of the experience).

The question really is do we want to experience something like P.T. in VR? Even on a standard monitor the experience is, quite simply, terrifying. Constant, putrid noises keep the player on edge the entire time, and in the few instances where players encounter an enemy the contrast from silence to violence is so sudden that causes a jump that few horror titles have ever succeeded in capturing. Adding the isolation that VR provides and the enhanced immersion is only going to heighten that experience even further.

Still, many of P.T.’s puzzles, which simply involve staring at particular objects, seem suited for VR. And when players are told not to turn around, the thought of having to resist peaking a head over the shoulder is almost too much. The title’s brevity, once puzzles have been solved, is perhaps the only saving grace that would keep many that experience it from stopping early.

Horror is already a popular genre in the VR space for obvious reasons, but we’re yet to see something that can even begin to match the dreaded atmosphere of P.T.. Horror of this magnitude in VR is certainly an exciting prospect, though one that only few will be brave enough to experience.

‘Make it a (virtual) Reality’ is VRFocus’ weekly feature that takes the videogames we already know and love and looks at how virtual reality (VR) could enhance them. From retro classics to modern blockbusters, we examine the pros and cons of bringing a franchise to VR headsets. 

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