Despite how many years have passed, Sony’s PlayStation 1 horror games still manage to strike fear into the hearts of its players. Whether it’s a game about being chased by a monster, screams of a baby in the dark, or a being followed by a ghost, a lot of titles on the system will make you wet your pants.
It was actually the original PlayStation that paved the way to better, and ultimately far more terrifying experiences on the PS2. It goes without saying that the PS1’s technical limitations didn’t stop the developers from delivering unsettling adventures that still spark discussions to this day.
Today, we will be diving into the best horror games the original PlayStation had to offer. I’m currently being chased by a ghost while writing this. So, if the list isn’t finished you need to know that the ghost has taken over my body and–
Table of Contents
Dino Crisis Is a survival horror game that time hasn’t forgotten. Despite being released back in 1999, fans of the series are still asking for a remake from Capcom.
You play as a young redheaded girl named Regina in her mission to stop Dr Edward Kirk, and his plans of creating secret weapons. Along with four agents, Regina will have to survive death against foes and huge human-eating dinosaurs.
The controls and the visuals may feel rough around the edges, especially for those who didn’t grow up in the era. However, the survival horror elements in Dino Crisis still manage to sink the feelings of dread and terror into the player. The experience of being chased by a huge Tyrannosaurus was first seen in Jurrasic Park, but thanks to Capcom and their talented team,
Resident Evil is one of the progenitors of the survival horror genre, but it was Resident Evil 2 that brought the series to a higher level. Directed by Hideki Kamiya, the same guy behind the Devil May Cry franchise, Resident Evil 2 was an attempt to go beyond what the original game has achieved.
Featuring Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield as the newest protagonists of the series, you room the dangerous zombie-infested streets of Racoon City looking for clues and solving an influx of puzzles. What’s interesting about this entry is that the CGI cutscenes still hold up pretty well. Unless your standards are high, then you may disagree with this statement.
The success of Resident Evil 2 would go on to push Capcom to develop a new entry in the franchise titled Resident Evil 2: Nemesis. The sequel has put many through turbulence as the Nemesis would periodically show up only to chase players for what felt like a century. Decades later, these games would go on to receive complete remakes, with bright visuals, revamped controls and more.
Silent Hill is arguably the best horror game on the original PlayStation. The use of the system’s hardware limitation worked as an advantage for Silent Hill, and it goes on to show that you don’t really need the highest technology out there to scare your players. Make it simple, but hard to expect from miles, and players will fall for it.
The game sees you controlling an ordinary dude called Harry Mason looking for his missing daughter, Cheryl. All hell breaks loose when he steps into Silent Hill, only for him to uncover that this isn’t an ordinary town you would go on a vacation with your wife to.
If you’re a survival horror games fan, chances are you already have a general idea about one. However, in case if you’re just getting you’re just getting started, let me tell you this; Silent Hill is extremely scary. While, yes the controls are rough around the edges, they’re surprisingly better than Capcom’s Resident Evil. The level of terror in Silent Hill remains unmatched to this day as every corner has a faceless nurse waiting to decapitate you.
Clock Tower on the original PlayStation is often confused with the original SNES release. Actually, the showcased entry here is a sequel to the latter since it’s titled Clock Tower 2 in Japan.
The game is a 3D point & click survival horror game with an emphasis on the player’s choices. Each choice the player picks has an effect on the ending of the game. The story sees you controlling Jennifer or Helen, and their struggle against the scissor man. Depending on the choice made throughout the course of the game, there are up to 10 endings to experience.
Players can’t defend themselves against the scissor man. Instead, they have run for their lives until they find a safe spot to use for hiding. However, put in mind using the same spot will quickly alarm the scissor man of your presence. What makes the action really intense is the panic meter. It raises whenever he’s around, and once it’s full, players won’t be able to control their character.
Echo Night is a unique take on the horror genre. While juggernauts such as Capcom and Konami had ambitious plans to bring horror gaming to higher heights, FromSoftware opted for a simple yet interesting approach.
The controls in Echo Night and the sequel are absolutely horrible. Ironically, it makes one appreciate the Resident Evil tank controls. However, if you can manage to ignore these flaws (which you won’t) you’ll have one incredible experience. The game sees you diving back into different parts of the past, conversing with banished souls and collecting the astral pieces they leave behind. However, the thing is, this won’t be a walk in the park.
You’ll be haunted by certain ghosts throughout the entire game, and since you can’t fight, the only option is to turn on the lights. Yes, turn the damn lights and vanquish that laughing girl ghost for good. The sequel, while released exclusively in Japan, has received a fan English Patch that allows you to play the game from start to finish.
Galerians may look like a typical Resident Evil clone on the surface, but thanks to its interesting gameplay mechanics, it manages to set itself apart from the mob. The story puts you in the role of Rion (Leon) who suffers from Amnesia. Amidst searching for his lost identity he discovers early on that he has been blessed with psychic powers. He also discovers that he’s humanity’s last hope to defeat the Galerians from taking over the world.
Before you delve into the game you should know that the combat in Galerians won’t appeal to everybody. You aren’t equipped with a machine gun or a sharp blade. No, it’s just you, and your psychic powers to knock out your enemies. The best strategy is to just avoid regular enemies and save up on the resources as best as you can. You’ll have a hard time wasting resources on enemies because supplies in Galerians are pretty scarce.
Parasite Eve is an interesting blend between Resident Evil and Final Fantasy. Mixing RPG with survival horror elements worked fantastically for Parasite Eve, and while many may unfairly compare it to Capcom’s Resident Evil, the former is in a league of its own.
The overall story puts you in the shoes of a blonde New York police named Aya Brea. Her mission is to stop Parasite Eve from wiping the human race from the face of the earth. The gameplay is pretty similar to the likes of Final Fantasy 7, but with no traditional battle system. Instead, Aya Brea can move freely to avoid attacks and shoot enemies using either her guns or parasitic powers. Additionally, the game uses a pausable real-time combat system with an Active Time Bar. Once the player attacks, they have to wait a little bit until they can perform an attack.
While the first game remains an icon in the genre, the second game isn’t bad either. It’s just that the second game focused heavily on action and the gore aspect.
Alone in the Dark franchise is one of the progenitors of the survival horror genre, even before Capcom’s Resident Evil. It’s a shame that this franchise is now in a deep slumber, awaiting the day it would miraculously rise from the grave with a strong comeback. After all these years, Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare is still worthy of experience for those who enjoy survival horror video games.
Venture into the nightmarish journey of Edward Carnby and Aline Cedric as they land on Shadow Island, a mysterious place near the coast of Massachusetts. You can only pick one character to go through the game with, but the ending is mostly the same for both. Edward and his partner have to investigate the island, unveil secrets and confront abnormal creatures.
Similar to the classic Resident Evil games, the game features tank controls and an emphasis on backtracking to unlock closed doors in order to progress. Ammunition is scarce in the game, so the best choice is to just avoid unnecessary confrontations. Be smart, and you’ll remain on top.
Koudelka is one of the most ambitious takes on the Japanese role-playing genre. The game’s philosophy and its combat system aren’t just interesting, they’re mind-blowing. Similar to Parasite Eve, Koudelka is a mixture of survival horror and JRPGs, making it different from any other game you’ll experience in your lifetime.
Koudelka’s CGI cutscenes are simply ahead of their time, and that’s one of the reasons that make this game worth mentioning. The grotesque design of the monsters you’ll be confronting is well-made. The monsters are incredibly difficult to take early on, which means that grinding your way through the game is inevitable. Add to that the engaging combat system, and the memorable soundtracks, and you got yourself an epic adventure.
The plot sees Koudelka, bishop James, and Edward Plunkett uncovering Nemeton’s secrets, and confronting various monsters which are created from the dark past. Because of the highly detailed CGI cutscenes, this game used 4 discs. Yes, four freaking discs.
Nightmare Creatures was a big deal when it first launched. The PlayStation’s technical limitations weren’t an obstacle in the face of the developers. In fact, Kalisto Entertainment succeeded in making an atmospheric experience. It just went on to show that the PlayStation was capable of taking on the N64 at the time.
The movements may feel rough around the edges, and so are the visuals, but slicing your enemies in half feels satisfying still. Add to that the elements from the gothic horror and a very dark atmosphere, and you’re instantly hooked. If you manage to ignore the flaws of this game, you’re in for a little treat.
Iru! (translated by the fans to Something Here!) is an obscure first-person horror game that many don’t speak about, and that makes sense the game was released exclusively in Japan. The gameplay is pretty much similar to the likes of Echo Night and Hellnight.
The game’s setting sends you to school where your schoolmates start dying in the strangest ways possible; being consumed by creatures, eaten alive, and smashed to death. You, as the student Tatsuya Inaba has to save your friends and discover what the hell is going on.
While yes the game was released exclusively in Japan, you can still play the game using an English Fan Patch. It’s best to experience this obscure game on the PS1 Emulator whenever you have the time.
Thank you for reading.
Just your average gamer who enjoys hunting hidden gems and underrated games - but is still open to any game in the industry if you ask him. His love for Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams is like a truck and whenever he meets a new friend, he can't help himself but recommend it to him.