10 Best Modern Horror Games With PS1 Graphics
Nostalgia has long played a part in the development of indie games; in years past, pixel-art platformers and pseudo-16-bit RPGs dominated the scene, but, more recently, fixations seem to be set on the jagged, jarring polygons of the original PlayStation where a lot of today’s genre staples like the upcoming Resident Evil 8 DLC first began.
In particular, fifth-generation 3D seems to appeal to current horror game developers. Perhaps it has something to do with the off-kilter and uncanny appearance of the era’s muddy textures and blocky models, or it could be a nostalgia for the onset of the survival horror genre with games like Silent Hill. Whatever the reason, PS1 horror is a huge deal at the moment, and these are some of the most exciting entries in the blossoming gaming niche.
The Fridge Is Red
A vignette of six horrific stories, The Fridge Is Red is an upcoming indie title set to release in late September that promises to combine the surreal storytelling of Stranger Things and The Twilight Zone with similar aesthetics to the first Silent Hill title.
As creative as it is creepy, The Fridge Is Red looks to be a landmark release in this up-and-coming horror release, and those still eager for concrete news regarding the rumored Silent Hill 2 remakes may want to give this a shot in the meantime.
No One Lives Under The Lighthouse
Overtly inspired by the 2019 Robert Eggers horror film The Lighthouse, Marevo Collective’s No One Lives Under The Lighthouse is a gloomy, bleak title that sees the player step into the shoes of a lighthouse keeper tasked with maintaining the eponymous structure over a gray, rain-soaked seven-day period.
Full of frights both subtle and extreme, No One Lives Under The Lighthouse pioneers some very interesting concepts with unique second-person gameplay segments and entire segments played from the perspective of the game’s monster. It’s a must-play for fans of Lovecraftian horror, or for those who just can’t get enough of the PS1 aesthetic.
A walking simulator set in a sort of dreamworld that hard cuts between three separate points of view, Paratopic‘s surreal nature is its primary selling point. Unrelentingly weird and difficult to decipher, the game evokes the vague dread of the many liminal horror media projects that are in vogue in the modern era.
Grainy, distorted, and masked in a polluted green-yellow filter, there’s something off about Paratopic‘s world from the get-go. While it’s less than an hour long, it’s worth playing to see how the unreal narrative plays out.
Night At The Gates Of Hell
An unapologetically brash title published by Torture Star Video, Night At The Gates of Hell is a low-poly FPS title that combines the garish unreality of Silent Hill‘s scariest monsters with the grotesque horror of classic slasher films of the 80s. With Lucio Fulci’s Zombie films listed as primary inspirations, Night At The Gates of Hell makes for a surprisingly disturbing and uncomfortable experience.
Night At The Gates of Hell commits fully to its degraded B-movie premise and at times blurs the line between an anachronistic PS1 title and a wannabe VHS found footage film. It’s also several hours long, which makes it something of an outlier in a genre that mostly features shorter experiences.
A horror roguelike title that tasks a hapless protagonist with rescuing his girlfriend from the twisting, surreal bowls of a meat monstrosity known as The Gut, Golden Light is absolutely beyond compare. A title that demands players eat their weapons and inventory items in order to gain health, it’s a must-play for gamers obsessed with the weird and morose.
Golden Light doesn’t go for a deliberate PS1 aesthetic, but its low-poly world and disturbingly ambiguous enemies definitely harken back to a time when limited visual fidelity necessitated an active imagination on the part of the player. It’s also a robust title that features both online co-op and the strangest Battle Royale anyone will ever play.
Back In 1995
Released in 2016, Back In 1995 was among the PS1 nostalgia vanguard, debuting years in advance of some of the more notable titles in the still-burgeoning genre. A very literal title that outlines the developer’s goal of reuniting warped, gruff 3D gaming with nightmare-fuel body horror.
While it’s often compared to Silent Hill, Back In 1995 looks almost as if it would be more at home on a Sega Saturn. Plus, almost unbelievably slow and plodding, Back In 1995 is really of its own strange breed, and it’s only well suited for those who can’t get enough of old-school horror.
Haunted PS1 Demo Disk 2020
The first of an annual collection of retro-stylized indie horror titles, Haunted PS1 Demo Disc 2020 is a selection of over a dozen byte-sized tales of terror intended to look like they might run on an original PlayStation console.
From harrowing first-person shooters like Killer Bees and Filthbreed to the mind-melting exploration outfits Neko Yume and Fatum Betula, it’s an unremittingly disorienting collection of offbeat offerings. It’s available for free on itch.io, meaning that just about everyone can give it a go.
Developed by Puppet Combo, a studio at the forefront of the PSX horror movement, the bluntly-titled Murder House follows an ill-fated television news crew who encounter the Easter Ripper after driving to a long-abandoned house to shoot a documentary.
Replete with flat-looking textures, goofy models, and hilariously off-kilter voice acting, Murder House is extremely authentic in its portrayal of a late 90s PlayStation title. That said, it’s also layered with filters which make it look like a bad horror movie bootleg, though, for many, that only adds to the charm. Plus, the game is shockingly gruesome, an aspect that’s amplified by its otherwise simple graphics.
Released in early 2022, Bloodborne PSX is a ridiculously faithful fan-made recreation of FromSoftware’s Bloodborne made to look as if the title had been released in 1995 instead of 2015. While it only portrays the first area of the original game, takes a few liberties, and actually adds custom content to the game, it’s nonetheless a perfect duplication of the early PlayStation aesthetic replete with warbling textures and almost-indecipherable enemies.
A labor of love to rival the most legendary of fan-generated video game content, Bloodborne PSX is the ideal experience for FromSoftware fans who’ve been around since the debut of King’s Field on Sony’s first console.
Created by Dusk developer David Szymanski, Iron Lung is an hour-long experience fraught with claustrophobic torment and nihilistic terror. Set in a universe in which every star has mysteriously disappeared, what remains of humanity searches desperately for some slim glimmer of hope in a soon-to-be still expanse of dead space.
The player pilots a leaking submarine through an ocean of blood and is tasked with taking pictures of certain anomalous locations. With that in mind, visuals aren’t a huge part of the title, though the game’s low-poly nature certainly contributes to its grim, unembellished atmosphere.
NEXT: 10 Best Action Horror Games On The PS1