Sunday, August 7, 2016

Review #343: P.T.

 The most overrated glorified demo of all time.
 P.T is exactly what its name stands for; a playable teaser. This is by no means a demo, which you can clearly tell due to its relatively short length and small scope. It's also a... piece of software that's been overblown and overhyped to unexpectedly high levels, even having been featured on a few 'Best games of 2015' lists. I call shenanigans on the whole thing. It's way too short, way to simple, way too scripted to be competing against full games. It's also not as scary as they would lead you to believe.

 This is a first person horror-adventure game, it takes place inside a house, inside a very specific corridor inside a house. You will cycle throughout this same corridor time and time again as you solve different 'puzzles' and then are allowed to proceed towards the next cycle. My first issue comes with the puzzles, they are very silly. This one time I died because I looked at a phone. That's right, you trigger one of the death sequences by looking at a phone then the game doesn't want you to look at the phone.
 This holds true to how the game progresses as well. If you fail to examine the items the game wants you to examine on a particular cycle, you will cycle back to the same cycle, so to speak, until you finally figure out what inconspicuous things you were supposed to look at. It also means that the horror element quickly dries out. There's this one neat little moment when you look at a writing the wall, look away, and look back, and now a letter is gone. It was brilliant, but... you are supposed to look away and look back at it, look away and look back at it again letter by letter, it quickly stops being scary, or neat, and reminds you that you are playing a videogame. That isn't scary. Or the umpteenth time you trigger the crazy ghost lady on the corridor because you are trying to figure out what trivial dumb little thing you are supposed to do to proceed. Where's the horror in an all of these things? And getting the ending is so convoluted that it isn't even funny. The 'game' turns repetitive pretty fast.

 If there's one thing to praise, it's the ambiance. While I didn't feel scared at any time, and I don't think a single jump scare made me jump, the creepy imagery was on point. I always thought Silent Hill 4's premise was genius, and this game kinda builds up on it: you are locked inside a house, and it gets progressively corrupted as you advance. It was a fantastic concept then, and it still is now. Sound design was top notch again, and what little voice acting there is in here, it's very convincing
 I guess it could be argued that it's unfair for me to compare it with full retail games, that I shouldn't expect more out of a 'playable teaser'. And I'd be inclined to agree, but as I stated on the opening paragraph, P.T. has been compared, favorably, to full games on numerous 'Best of' lists. And I tell ya, it's very, very overrated. The fantastic atmosphere they managed to craft with the presentation is quickly lost to the frustration of having to follow convoluted steps, or 'gamey' solutions to the puzzles. No, I did not enjoy P.T., I could see its now lost potential, but P.T. itself is very lackluster. As a teaser it's fantastic, as a demo it's laughable and as a game it's little more than a corridor simulator.
 4.0 out of 10

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