The anticipation of what’s around the corner in Hideo Kojima’s Silent Hills playable teaser, P.T., is what makes it so scary. What will we find around the next corner? The game’s biggest jump scares often come from Lisa, the ghost of a woman who inhabited the home. Players may not always know when Lisa will strike, but it feels like she’s always lurking. It turns out that’s because she is.
YouTube creator Lance McDonald has been digging into P.T.’s files for the past nine months to uncover secrets that might otherwise be lost to time. After all, P.T. is no longer easily playable; publisher Konami cancelled Silent Hills in 2015 and delisted P.T. on the PlayStation Store a few days later. Soon after, players realized they could no longer re-download the game even if they had done so previously. Multiple fan-made versions of P.T. are available, but the actual P.T. is near impossible to find.
Recently, McDonald had a breakthrough. He fiddled with numbers in the game’s code until he was able to twist the camera “off-kilter” just three days ago and found something creepy: that Lisa is always with you. Lisa’s shadow is always visible, and her sounds always seem to follow you — but you don’t know if she’s really there or when she might appear. By manually controlling P.T.’s camera, McDonald found that, in reality, she’s always there.
She actually attaches to the player's back as soon as you get the flashlight, here, I demonstrate how you can see some strange shadows. I then lock the camera in place and walk forward, showing how she's always there... following you... pic.twitter.com/zarhwjNmZz— Lance McDonald (@manfightdragon) September 9, 2019
“Sometimes in a game like P.T., you feel like some of the fear is just an illusion created with tricks,” McDonald told Polygon. “Shadows are just being cast by 2D decals off-camera, [or] sounds are just triggered by scripted events. Knowing that something horrible exists but is specifically designed to be impossible to ever see can really make it much worse for some people.”
McDonald said that Lisa “attaches” herself to the player once they pick up the flashlight and then... just stays there. Moaning. Crying. Lurking. The realization that she’s always behind the player doesn’t necessarily change anything about P.T. or the fear it inspires in its players, but it certainly is a creepy realization. For some — those lucky enough to still have access to the original game — it could increase P.T.’s constant tension that something’s always lurking around the next corner. Because now we know, there is.
“The entire appeal of the game is that so much of it lurks just outside of what we ever get to see,” McDonald said. “It’s been five years now. I think the base experience has been had as much as it will be, so we might as well look deeper.”
McDonald said he’s made some other discoveries in P.T., but isn’t ready to share them just yet.