P.T. turns five this year, but the heartbreak is still fresh.
What happened to Silent Hill, or more specifically, the Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro collaboration, Silent Hills? What’s going on with P.T., the playable teaser that announced Silent Hills, and is often hailed as one of the best horror games ever made? Is it gone forever? Is there any hope for it making an official return?
Some of these questions don’t have answers – the future of Silent Hill is very uncertain. But we can paint a clear timeline of the Silent Hills saga to better understand the events that lead up to this point. We’re coming up on P.T.’s fifth anniversary, and even after all this time, the mark that demo left on the horror gaming landscape is still there, spawning fan remake after fan remake and inspiring countless other games to follow in its footsteps.
For a full breakdown of the Silent Hills timeline, follow along below.
Sony Announces P.T.
During its Gamescom 2014 press conference on August 12, Sony dropped a teaser for P.T., describing it as a “new title from a new studio” – 7780s Studio, to be exact. The “interactive teaser” launched exclusively on PlayStation 4 during the press conference.
There was very little in the trailer to hint at any association with Silent Hill – just a character walking, a talking bag, and some test players shrieking at an offscreen scare.
Silent Hills Revealed
It wasn’t long after P.T. was set loose on the public that the truth about it was revealed. Once the “interactive demo” portion of the teaser is completed, P.T. plays what is effectively a trailer for a new Silent Hill game, called Silent Hills.
After an ominous radio transmission, it cuts to a scene of a character walking down a dark city street, intercut with the names Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro. After the character turns around, revealing he is played by Norman Reedus, the Silent Hill theme song plays over a white title card for Silent Hills.
In just a month, P.T. was downloaded over one million times.
Silent Hills was announced as a Kojima Productions game, powered by the FOX Engine, and although a frame at the end of P.T. states, “This game is a teaser. It has no relation to the main title,” it sent shockwaves through the horror game community. P.T. was almost immediately hailed as one of the scariest standalone games ever and speculation about what this new Silent Hill game entailed – from Silent Hill 4: The Room comparisons to whether or not any members of the beloved Team Silent would be returning for development – was rampant.
Kojima, being the trickster that he is, also weighed in on a few of the mysteries surrounding Silent Hills. For instance, Kojima explained that the number 7780, which appears in the name of the fake studio P.T. published under, is just the postcode of Japan’s Shizuoka region – with the kanji for Shizuoka roughly translating into Quiet Hills. That, plus the “s” at the end of 7780s, is basically Kojima code for Silent Hills.
In just a month, P.T. was downloaded over one million times, and fans began remaking the already iconic hallway in everything from Minecraft to Project Spark. The reaction to P.T. was a testament to the immense popularity of a franchise in dire need of revival.
A New Silent Hills Teaser Terrifies
Kojima made an appearance at Tokyo Game Show about a month after P.T.’s launch to show off a brand new “concept movie” for Silent Hills.
The trailer was as gruesome as you’d expect after playing P.T., featuring a disembodied head hurling slugs, a giant creature, bloody handprints, and of course, a spooky staircase.
Kojima and Konami Drama
In March 2015, a series of increasingly concerning events involving Kojima and Konami began to worry fans over the future of the highly anticipated Metal Gear Solid V as well as Silent Hills, barely a year after its announcement.
Kojima’s name began disappearing from official Metal Gear Solid V marketing and the Kojima Productions logo was removed from the Silent Hills website, leading to rumors that Kojima had left Konami.
After we finish MGSV, Mr. Kojima and upper management will leave Konami.
Speaking to IGN, a representative from Konami stated: “As we have already announced, we are shifting our production structure to a headquarters-controlled system, in order to establish a steadfast operating base capable of responding to the rapid market changes that surround our digital entertainment business. Konami Digital Entertainment (including Mr. Kojima), will continue to develop and support Metal Gear products. Please look forward to future announcements.”
An anonymous source spoke later spoke to GameSpot, claiming that “power struggles” had affected the employment status of Kojima and other senior staff at Konami, and that Kojima would be leaving Konami after Metal Gear Solid V was completed.
“After we finish MGSV, Mr. Kojima and upper management will leave Konami,” the source told GameSpot. “They said their contract ends in December.”
A day later, Konami confirmed in a joint statement with Kojima that Metal Gear Solid V was safe and still on track to launch
While some fans still worried about what this meant for the future of Metal Gear Solid, the future of Silent Hills, a much younger project, also hung in the balance. (You can read the full story of the Kojima and Konami drama in our timeline of the controversy.)
P.T. Removed from PlayStation Store
It’s not gonna happen and that breaks my greasy heart.
On April 25, 2015, adding fuel to the ever-growing fire of Silent Hills’ demise, Konami announced that on April 29, the “distribution period” for P.T. would expire on the PlayStation Store, delisting the Silent Hills teaser for future download.
That night, a fan asked Guillermo del Toro about the status of his collaboration with Hideo Kojima during a panel at the San Francisco International Film Festival, to which del Toro allegedly responded, “It’s not gonna happen and that breaks my greasy heart.”
As to whether or not Silent Hills was still happening, del Toro allegedly told fans, “You’ll have to go after Konami for those answers.”
Fans would get their answer soon after.
Silent Hills Officially Cancelled
After all the excitement and fanfare and sudden alarm, Silent Hills was officially cancelled on April 27, 2015, not even a year after its announcement.
The statement from Konami read: “Konami is committed to new Silent Hill titles, however the embryonic ‘Silent Hills’ project developed with Guillermo del Toro and featuring the likeness of Norman Reedus will not be continued.”
There was tons of commotion in the days and weeks to follow. Silent Hill fans are a passionate bunch and so are Kojima fans – the combination was explosive.
Listings for PlayStation 4 consoles with P.T. installed on them began appearing on eBay for big bucks. Fans started a Change.org petition (because what is a gaming controversy without a Change.org petition?) urging the production of Silent Hills to continue with Kojima and del Toro at the helm, offering to crowdfund “if the issue is money related.” The petition closed with 195,000 signatures, but no Silent Hills in sight. It became apparent that P.T. could not be re-downloaded even if you had previously downloaded it onto your PS4.
Del Toro spoke fondly of his time collaborating with Kojima, driving the knife in even deeper for fans. An anonymous source told Rooster Teeth that Microsoft was planning to buy Silent Hills from Konami to release as an Xbox One exclusive, claiming that Silent Hills was 80% complete – an absurd rumor that Phil Spencer later confirmed as false. In September, as if fans needed any more reason to be sad, del Toro revealed that famed horror manga artist Junji Ito had been one of the collaborators on Silent Hills.
Whatever the exact nature of the community drama or rumor or heartbreak of the day, it was clear that the pitiful demise of Silent Hills would not quickly be forgotten.
Okay, But What the Hell Is Going On With P.T.?
Silent Hill fans eventually had to accept the sad fate of Silent Hills, but because we had still been left with the near-instant horror classic P.T., saying goodbye was a little more complicated.
It wasn’t long after P.T. was removed from the PlayStation Store on April 29, 2015 that new rumors began to circulate about its status for those who already owned it. In May 2015, we learned that you may not be able to re-install P.T. after deleting it from your system following its delisting from the PlayStation Store. In July 2015, a report about Konami deleting P.T. off of people’s consoles began circulating, which a Konami spokesperson later confirmed as false to VG247.
And just recently, in November 2018, a new rumor about a patch that makes P.T. unplayable began to spread. A Reddit post helped kick off the panic, which eventually made its way onto social media, but a Konami representative told IGN: “After our investigation we can confirm that there have been no Konami or PlayStation Network(PSN) update that would have affected or prevent access to the game.”
So it seems, as of January 2019, that P.T. is still safe for PlayStation 4 users who still have it installed.
The Spirit of Silent Hills Lives On
Games like Allison Road and Visage began popping up in the wake of Silent Hills, both inspired by P.T.’s psychological domestic horror. While Allison Road has seemingly gone radio silent after its own rocky start, Visage is now in Steam Early Access.
One game developer known for short videos “demaking” modern games as PSX classics released P.T.98, a low-poly P.T. “demake.” One developer had a PC remake of P.T. shut down by Konami, while another just recently finished up his own P.T. remake in Unreal Engine, and with VR support.
We might never know what Silent Hills would have looked like, but the Hideo Kojima, Guillermo del Toro, and Norman Reedus dream team didn’t completely die with it.
Death Stranding, Kojima’s new game and upcoming debut with his now-independent studio Kojima Productions, brings the three together again, albeit in a different way. Reedus still plays a major character and while del Toro may not be a designer, he also plays a role as well.
There have been tons of fan theories about Death Stranding so far, some attempting to find ties with the Metal Gear series and yes, of course, Silent Hills. While they’re fun to dig through (and sometimes amusingly convincing), Konami’s stranglehold on both IPs makes any direct connection fairly unlikely. But it isn’t a stretch to imagine that maybe some of the ideas Kojima and team poured into Silent Hills and P.T. have been redirected to fit their vision for Death Stranding.
It isn’t a remedy for the loss of Silent Hills, but it’s something to look forward to either way.
Chloi Rad is an Editor at IGN. Follow her on Twitter at @_chloi.