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P.T. hack reveals a horror game that's somehow even scarier than we previously thought

Screenshot: P.T. (YouTube)

P.T., the “Playable Teaser” for a Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro-led Silent Hill that never was, is the closest video games have come to digitally recreating a nightmare. From a first-person perspective, players walk the endlessly looping hallways of a seemingly empty house to the sound of a wailing baby, crackling radio station, and gurgled moaning. From time to time, they may find a talking fetus in a bathroom sink or get screamed at by a menacing ghost woman called Lisa.

Released a little over 5 years ago, P.T. has since become infamous not just because it’s a teaser for a cancelled game that can no longer even be downloaded, but because it’s packed full of strange secrets. Even now, as it turns out, there’s more, absurdly frightening stuff to find in its code.

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This is made horrifyingly clear in a Twitter thread by Lance McDonald, who went into the game’s guts to discover that whenever the player’s hearing the sounds of an invisible ghost, that ghost is literally floating right there behind them. Because P.T.’s camera emulates the player’s field of view, turning around to check out where Lisa’s noises are coming from reveals nothing. Hacking the game so it’s possible to see “behind...without actually turning around,” though, shows that she’s actually “[attached] to the player’s back” from the moment a key item is picked up in-game.

The long and short of it is that Lisa, a corpse-like ghost with empty black eyes, stalks the player for much of P.T., even if they can’t see her shadowing their every step. It’s an interesting technical decision as well as a complete fucking nightmare of a discovery. You can see how it works for yourself in the video below, which somehow makes Lisa even creepier by showing the way her model shivers uncontrollably in an otherwise static pose during the process.

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McDonald should be praised not just for finding new stuff, but for managing to spend a whole lot of time sticking his face right up into the abyss of an enormously spooky game. Even after lots of time spent working with the patches used to change P.T.’s camera, he says he “never got used to” Lisa “[grabbing] me and scaring the absolute shit out of [me.]”

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Considering that P.T. was never made into a full game, can no longer be downloaded, is filled with obtuse secrets, and is inhabited by an actual stalker of a ghost, there are strong arguments to be made that it’s an honest-to-god cursed object. McDonald says he has “much more to show you” as he continues to poke around the game’s code. Really, though, it might be better for him to stop now before he discovers a portal to another dimension and invites a legion of demons to come spilling out the disc drive of every PlayStation 4 around the world.

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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.