The following randomly appeared in my Gmail inbox in 2016. I have no idea who sent it and I have no idea why it was sent to me of all people. All I know is what it said:
I know the real reason why Silent Hills was cancelled.
For those who aren’t into video games, I’ll give you a Cliff Notes background: from 2012 to 2015, there was a new Silent Hill game in development. In addition to noted game designer Hideo Kojima, many auteurs of horror were involved, including manga artist Junji Ito and filmmaker Guillermo del Toro.
In August of 2014, a playable teaser was released, simply titled “P.T.” It was widely acclaimed and generated a ton of hype surrounding what fans were sure would be the best installment of the Silent Hill saga.
And then, in 2015, Japanese entertainment conglomerate Konami suddenly cancelled the project. Amid widespread criticism from fans, “P.T.” was removed from the PlayStation Store and made impossible to reinstall.
Initial news reported that Konami was dissatisfied with the direction in which Kojima was taking the franchise. As time went on, the news changed its tune, saying that the game was cancelled due to corporate reshuffling at Konami. Both of these statements are false.
I know because I was involved in the game’s production. If you look at the Wikipedia page for Silent Hills, you’ll see under Cancellation that video game website Polygon reported getting an anonymous tip confirming that the game had been cancelled. I was the one who gave them that anonymous tip.
I did it because I need people to know the truth. Of course, no one believed me, so it was never actually published, so I decided to send the story to someone at random. Maybe you can help me.
The truth of the matter is the game was cancelled because, to put it simply, we went too far.
Early on in development, someone involved with the production of P.T. decided to do something a little different: they designed it so that the main ghost, Lisa, would follow the player throughout the game, causing scary noises and shadows throughout the teaser. Of course, the player only looks forward, so the model of Lisa is never actually seen. There was a lot of talks about wasting time developing a model that would constantly follow the player without being seen when it could’ve easily been done with simple sound design and effects, but ultimately they decided it was best just to leave be. BIG mistake.
As the teaser was developed, many of us of course would test it to make sure it was going well. Anyone who played it was immensely excited at first. We knew we had a massive hit on our hands.
As time went on, though, the people who play-tested the teaser started coming into work exhausted. At first, we just figured they were overworked. Creating a video game is extremely intricate work and developers spend long hours trying to perfect every little detail, especially with a release of this magnitude.
And then, one day, one of the developers, whose name I won’t disclose here, didn’t come in at all. Those of us who knew him were immediately worried; he wasn’t the kind of guy to just up and miss work. We called him numerous times, but there was no answer. Eventually one of the other developers, who was friends with the missing guy, called his wife to ask whether or not he was okay. After the call, it was said the man’s face was a picture of shock.
The man hadn’t come into work because the previous night, he’d gone down into his basement and hung himself from one of the rafters.
Worry turned into shock, shock into sorrow, sorrow into grief. The man had no history of depression or anything that could have led to suicide.
A week later, another person didn’t show up. The first death was still fresh in our minds, so we tried to prepare ourselves for what we assumed was inevitable. Sure enough, about an hour into what would’ve been their shift, we got a phone call from the person’s family. The night before, they had made their way to the roof of their apartment building and jumped. I was there when we got this news directly. I remember one of the people in the room muttering to themselves, “what the fuck is going on…?” If I have to be honest, and I do, I think a good many of us knew in the back of our minds what was going on, but we didn’t want to accept it.
At one point someone from the Public Security Intelligence Agency (Japanese FBI) visited us to interview us and get any info they could about the people we’d lost. I’m pretty sure they were dissatisfied with what they got, but while I was talking to them, I couldn’t help but feel like they weren’t telling us everything. I mean, I guess I should’ve expected as much. What intelligence agency tells its people everything? But it definitely aroused suspicion.
It wasn’t until three more people died that we got the email.
Before one of the people killed themselves, they sent something to our office’s email address. I never actually got to see it for myself, but one of the people who handles our emails is a friend of mine and she DID get to see it. According to her, it simply read: “She won’t stop following me. I can feel her breath on the back of my neck. Can’t keep doing this. Goodbye.”
It wasn’t long after that that we got word that the game was being cancelled. All of our progress over three years was gone, and at that point I think most of us were more relieved than disappointed. Whatever was going on needed to stop, and damn the expense.
I couldn’t bring myself to go to the first few funerals. I know that’s selfish, but what can I say? I didn’t want it to be real. Eventually, I made the effort to go to the funeral of the man who had sent the email. His wife was inconsolable. It wasn’t until halfway through the service that she managed to get any kind of words out. I went up to her to pay my respects, and out of nowhere I remember asking her why she thought it had happened. She was obviously taken aback by my answer, but being the strong woman she is, she wiped her tears and told me.
She said that for a year or so before his death, the man had had a lot of trouble sleeping. He had never had issues with insomnia before, but suddenly he was lucky to get as much as three hours. As time went on, he just got worse and worse. He became frightened of his home after dark. Sometimes he’d even go stay at a hotel just to avoid being in the house after sundown. He started rapidly losing weight. His eyes were in a constant glaze, as if he was constantly staring into something beyond what anyone else could see. The one time his wife got up the nerve to ask what was wrong, the man uttered one word.
It wasn’t long after that that he killed himself. The wife told me point blank that she wondered if she’d been responsible, but I assured her she wasn’t. I gave her a hug and said goodbye.
I don’t think any of us were surprised when P.T. was removed from the PS Store and made unable to download. I like to think they did it for the right reasons and not for problems with public relations. Although none of us ever said anything about it to each other, I think we all knew. We’d let something loose. I didn’t believe it at first. How could I?
Then, the other night, as I was making my way towards my bedroom, I felt the unmistakable tingle of cold, fetid breath down the back of my neck. I turned around with a start. Nothing was behind me.
I know what’s to come, and I am terrified.
The email ended there. I couldn’t make heads or tails of it at first. I was sure it was a friend playing a prank or something. I archived the email and pretty much forgot all about it. Then, in 2019, an indie developer name Lance McDonald used what he called “camera patches” to allow the player in P.T. to look 360 degrees. As it turns out, after a certain point in the game, the ghost, “Lisa,” actually DOES follow directly behind you throughout the rest of the teaser. That reminded me of the email, which I’m really glad I saved. I still don’t exactly know what this means, and I’m all the more afraid because of it.
Credit: Emails from the Darkside
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