It’s been nine years since P.T. became available on the PlayStation store. A ‘Playable Teaser’ which eventually revealed the ill-fated Silent Hills upon completion, it’s perhaps become one of the most influential horror games of recent years – despite having little more than 30 minutes of content. We’ve seen dozens of horror games released in the years since that attempt to recapture the terrifying magic of P.T. – and not many come close. If its demo is anything to go by, though, Luto might be the one that finally gives P.T. a good run for its money.
Like P.T., the demo of Luto isn’t a slice from the full game. It’s a standalone experience which has been designed not to spoil any of the narrative of the full game, which is expected in 2024. We’d expect the same sort of atmosphere and gameplay to carry over, though – and for that reason, Luto has quickly become one of our most anticipated horror games of 2024.
Truly cinematic and experienced with a letterbox view, Luto often looks photorealistic. At a glance, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching a grainy, atmospheric movie rather than playing a game. That presentation style goes a long way into setting the tone of the game; its realistic visuals keep you on edge, fully immersing you into Luto’s world.
As often is the case with these types of experiences, you’re thrown into an environment with little explanation as to who you are or why you’re there. You begin in a family home, but it doesn’t take long for the corridors to warp around you. Before long, you’ll find yourself in eerie surroundings where long, door-lined corridors give way to crumbling cave-like areas – though some domestic spaces still remain. There’s a child’s bedroom, for example, where a series of disturbed doodles line the walls. At least, it looks like a typical child’s bedroom – but the large two-way mirror on the wall suggest something else.
While the atmosphere of Luto does a lot of the heavy lifting in making you feel tense, this wouldn’t be a horror game without some sort of entity appearing now and then. You don’t have to wait long until you meet a sheet-clad ghost – yes, really – slowly gliding towards you as you make your way along a long corridor. Try as you might, you can’t escape.
Watch the preview for Luto’s demo below:
That one encounter is all it takes to keep your hackles up for the rest of your playtime; you’ll approach every corner with apprehension, never quite sure what’s going to be waiting for you. Thankfully – at least as far as the demo goes, anyway – this isn’t the sort of game where you’ll be spending your time running and hiding. The bulk of your gameplay will be spent exploring Luto’s brilliantly realised environments and solving some puzzles.
The puzzles here are clever without ever being too difficult. A series of children’s drawings dotted around the house need to be collected and pinned on the wall in the correct order. A creepy VHS video tape provides clues for the location of a hidden key. You’re unlikely to get stuck, but this is still a satisfying game to work through: the “click” when a puzzle has been solved correctly, knowing that something new has opened up for you to be able to progress, is seriously satisfying.
The worst thing about Luto’s demo? It’s only a demo, and we’ve still got to wait a while for the full release. As far as demos go, though, this is seriously meaty, offering up over an hour of gameplay and providing a mouthwatering taste of what to expect from the full game. We’ve been seriously impressed with what we’ve seen here – and if you fancy giving it a go yourself, the demo can be downloaded on PlayStation and Steam.
2024’s looking like a promising year for horror fans, with the Silent Hill 2 remake on the cards and now Luto, amongst others. This demo has taken us by surprise, though, and a teaser for a game hasn’t had such an impact on us since, well, P.T.