We’re listing the ten Games of the Decade. These are the ten PlayStation titles released over the past ten years that we believe have left a historic mark on the industry. Whether it’s Destiny's impact on the Games as a Service space or Journey’s innovative approach to online connectivity, these are the releases that the industry will be referencing well into 2020 and beyond.
It was just a demo – but it was probably the greatest demo of all time. We remember the announcement of the fictional 7780s Studio’s PT fondly – it was sandwiched between a couple of forgettable games at one of PlayStation’s annual Gamescom press conferences. At the time, we shrugged it aside; indie developers had already ushered a survival horror renaissance with the likes of Outlast, and we assumed it was just another one of those.
In a way, it was, but this downloadable demo harboured a bigger secret: Silent Hills. There was euphoria that night, as people completed the demo and got their first glimpse of Norman Reedus in the starring role. Hideo Kojima, a veteran at breaking the fourth wall, was at his cunning best that evening – and news that he was collaborating with famed director Guillermo Del Toro on a reboot of one of PlayStation’s scariest properties was merely the viscera on the blood-soaked cake.
A very messy spat between the auteur and publisher Konami killed any hopes of reboot ever seeing the bright light of day, but even now it’s a project that’s firmly in the public eye. That’s because PT – or Playable Teaser, as it would later become known – is arguably the greatest example of survival horror the industry has ever seen. Set in an endlessly looping corridor, the interactive short proves the adage that less is more, contorting its play space to dramatic effect.
As a game, the demo subscribes more to the Gone Home school of design, with very little for you to do beyond observing the environment. But the puzzles are clever, and the atmosphere invoked is intense from start-to-finish. Kojima and his team eke more life out of a single hallway than most AAA titles manage in an entire open world, and each element of the experience – from the art to the audio design to the sinister sway of the camera – contribute confidently to that.
In a world after PT, survival horror will never be the same. There are already several titles that have taken inspiration from the release; Layers of Fear, the sadistic stroll through the demented mind of an obsessive artist, owes its entire existence to the demo – leveraging perspective to twist each scene in the exact same way as the Silent Hills sampler. It’s become the contemporary Super Mario Bros 1-1, being recreated in practically every creation suite, including Media Molecule’s Dreams.
And there are still stories today about what could have been; talk of waivers as Kojima and his crew planned to invade on the personal lives of players with their hotly anticipated reboot. The auteur would later reunite with Reedus and Del Toro for Death Stranding, released earlier this year. And there’s talk of return to horror on the cards. But it’s hard to imagine anything hitting quite like PT did – it was a perfect storm of pure terror, and a nightmarish interpretation of what a horror game can be.
Do you agree that PT has left an indelible legacy on the survival horror space? Are you still holding out hope for the return of Silent Hills one day? Scream where everyone can hear you in the comments section below.