Top 20 PlayStation Horror Games of All Time (For This Halloween)
A list of some must-play games spanning the entire PlayStation library (PS1 – PS4)
It could be argued that horror for console gaming didn’t really even come into its own (as a “thing”) until the original PlayStation arrived. Up until that time, there really weren’t that many truly “scary” mass-produced titles out there…at all. Of course, once people got a glimpse of experiences like the original “Resident Evil”, it was all over. The cat was out of the bag at that point and things would never be the same. Since that time, countless amazing horror games have been released for various PlayStation systems. We’re about to look at 20 standout examples right now, with support spanning from the PS1 through the PS4, at around 5 games or so per category / platform. Get ready to have a terrorific PlayStation Halloween!
Let’s get started…
This game should need no introduction… It is perhaps the most iconic horror game ever produced and has spawned an entire genre with its brilliance. Even though the graphics are pretty dated and have aged badly, it’s still an awesome experience that every serious gamer (particularly lovers of horror) shouldn’t deprive themselves of. Naturally, if you want to check out one of the remake versions (and there’s supposedly a new version coming out for the PS4), we won’t hold it against you.
Resident Evil 2
Many didn’t think it would be possible to live up to RE1, mush less outdo it in many regards, which is what makes Resident Evil 2 so incredible, of course. Whether or not you’re loading this one up on an original PS or a PS2 / PS3, it doesn’t really matter – this is what classic horror is all about. To say that this title singularly sparked the imaginations of millions of gamers and loads of future game developers is an understatement. It is simply chock full of great moments and elements that make it worth coming back to again and again. Even despite its age, it remains worthy of a playthrough here and there.
Resident Evil 3
What, another RE game?! …in a word, yes. The truth is, trying to put together a definitive PlayStation horror list WITHOUT including virtually every single major RE title is pure blasphemy. Even though the formula was quite obvious by this point in the series, the dev squad in charge of creating Resident Evil 3 STILL managed to pull some new tricks out of their hat. At the same time, they also instilled a generous helping of fear into the mix this go ‘round with the addition of a roving boss who cannot be easily put down. Needless to say, this further opened the door for the type of evasion mechanics we’d see evolving in future games and franchises.
There’s no point in trying to avoid the obvious, “Dino Crisis” is definitely yet another RE-like title employing a nearly identical camera system. Again, one needn’t take this as a bad thing though. Instead of your typical zombies, we’re treated a sort of hellish Jurassic Park-type scenario, replete with all manner of jump scare and tense encounter with prehistoric creature.
Many might not remember “Clock Tower”, but I assure you, it is definitely a must-play PS1 horror game. It plays out like a point-and-click adventure of sorts, where you are tasked with exploring and gathering clues while solving strange puzzles and so forth. Even though this game takes on a decidedly 2D-ish character at times, it remains as terrifying as ever. Those moments when the disfigured and menacing “scissor man” searches the hallways for you, with your only recourse being to run away and hide, are incredibly terrifying to say the least. Moreover, this game also features multiple endings, which makes subsequent playthroughs all the more rewarding.
Silent Hill 2
Certainly the first Silent Hill game is worth checking out (in fact, scribble it in somewhere beside the PS1 titles above), but clearly Silent Hill 2 was THE breakout game for the series. One only need utter two words to get the point across to those who’ve already checked it out – Pyramid Head. For many, SH2 actually stands as a horror watermark, a complete game experience like no other which pushed the envelope further than just about anything else out there (at the time). Regardless, it is STILL loads of fun to fire up SH2, the basic gameplay really is that good and engrossing. Likewise, in spite of its platform, it retains visuals art direction which is certainly up to par, even by modern standards.
With Resident Evil 4, Capcom completely changed up their cash cow and mutated it into something different altogether. While the core RE experience is definitely intact, all the expected elements are largely there, the shift to a true 3rd person over-the-shoulder perspective with more reliance on action took things to a whole new level. Additionally, the increase in graphical prowess certainly didn’t hurt RE4’s appeal either, with this installment marking the franchise’s formal move into a more modern gameplay system. All in all, this title gives you a bit of everything – from puzzle solving to gunfights to all sorts of creepiness. In short, Resident Evil 4 is a rollercoaster ride of epic proportions and stands as a must-play PS2 game.
Fatal Frame II
Next, we come to Fatal Frame II, which is a game that many horror purists feel is one of the scariest titles ever created. Naturally, assigning such a lofty title to any one game is tricky, of course…in the end it all boils down to taste and what scares the individual. But FF2 really is a pretty scary game, and Japanophiles will certainly get a lot out of the experience, obviously.
There’s only one thing you need to know about the fabulous “Haunting Ground” – you can only run and hide, there is no way to fight back. From there you can pretty much imagine all the rest, how you’ll be dodging attacks from horrendous monsters while looking for a place to slip out of view, hoping that they’ll lose your scent. Of course, the untold horrors of the game’s stately manor setting are still there, and you can’t really conceive of the fear awaiting you until you get yourself well into the guts of the game itself. One should also consider the fact that HG utilizes the somewhat familiar classic RE style camera / gameplay setup, which lends it a very interactive movie-like character.
Pairing a nautical theme with an original story and RE4-like mechanics, “Cold Fear” burst onto the scene seemingly out of nowhere and brought with it all sorts of horrors. While it might not be the longest or most rewarding game on this list, it certainly is scary. The game’s developers really did a great job of expanding on classic themes with this, finding new ways to repackage elements we all know and love while simultaneously adding new elements like 3rd person combat. If you simply can’t get enough of RE style gameplay, definitely check out Cold Fear.
With the arrival of “Dead Space” on the PlayStation 3 scene, the entire horror gaming community breathed a collective sigh of relief. Needless to say, most franchises were moving away from true horror at this point, instead opting to develop / integrate more “action” elements instead. Dead Space changed that, of course, sticking with exactly the kind of lumbering down dark and creepy hallways with little ammunition while the next jump scare is loading up experience that many can’t get enough of. The fact that it is also perhaps the first really scary horror game taking place in space (overlooking System Shock, of course) is also of particular note. Regardless, it is full of some really awesome moments and looks amazing in full HD too.
The Last of Us
“The Last of Us” seemingly emerged out of nowhere as a new IP to become one of the top contenders in the horror category for the PlayStation 3 crowd. It basically incorporates all the great 3rd person mechanics that had been developed up to that point, artfully blending them together with some new tricks and an immersive story to produce an unforgettable overall experience like no other. Whereas many games simply fill you with terror, The Last of Us does that while also beating you over the head with an emotional hammer, finding great ways to help you connect with the game’s characters and forcing you to personally connect with them, thus heightening the drama.
The inclusion of “Deadly Premonition” on this list might be somewhat bewildering to most. After all, this is a game that quite a few people have labeled as “broken”, which bets the question “what is it doing here?” Well, if you take the time to really give it its due, you’ll find that DP is actually an insane game with plenty of charm, almost taking on a David Lynch / Twin Peaks-like feel at times.
Ok, yeah, “Dead Island” really isn’t all that scary, but it is indeed a horror game and is loads of fun as well. The greatest thing about this open world / semi-open world title is that you can tackle it with others online in a cooperative fashion, of course. Then there’s the weapons crafting, inventory and skill tree systems which further enhance the core experience.
Dead Rising 2
Dead Rising 2 (and also 1) introduced a whole new spin on horror gameplay, finding a way to splice B-movie cheese with solid survival mechanics and timed segments. What we’re left with is a visceral and remarkable campaign that is incredibly original and engrossing to say the least.
Dead Space 2
If you loved the first outing, you’ll definitely like its follow-up offering. Dead Space 2 expounds on the core formula developed the first time around, with many gamers feeling as though they actually trumped the amazing first game in the series.
Hands down, if you’re looking for a scary game on the PS4, look no further than “Outlast”. Not only does it possess stellar visuals and sound, but it takes place in a truly terrifying atmosphere too. Currently (as of October 2014), it could be said that this is (arguably) the scariest horror title available for Sony’s 8th generation gaming console.
Utilizing procedural generation and fairly standardized FPS horror mechanics, “Daylight” is definitely a frightfest to say the least. While it has received quite a lot of negative criticism, rest assured, you will definitely be scared out of your wits while running through this game. The premise and story are really just hollow excuses to explore a dark, abandoned property, but it doesn’t matter…it’s still terrifying all the same. The fact that certain levels and areas won’t look the same on subsequent playthroughs just further sweetens the deal.
The Evil Within
Our next to last selection is actually a game created by the man responsible for bringing the Resident Evil series to life. “The Evil Within” is an awesome game and elegantly finds ways to merge modern mechanics will classic elements to produce something of a hybrid experience which weighs heavily on you psychologically. Nearly every aspect of this terrifying journey seems to have been planned to exert a maximum effect on the player. Even better, there are bona-fide stealth mechanics present here as well, meaning that you don’t always have to engage enemies.
Last but not least we come to “Alien: Isolation”, which is pretty much a dream come true game for fans of the Ridley Scott movie franchise. At its core, this title is very much based on evasion, of course; I mean, who’s going to actually try to go toe-to-toe with a Xenomorph, right? At the same time, you will have all sorts of weapons and gadgets which can both help you avoid the creature or strike out at it, forcing it away for a while. Is it scary? You bet your ass it is.