- Retro horror games offer a refreshing and different experience from modern horror titles, with unique mechanics and gameplay.
- Accessing retro horror games can be expensive, but some titles are more accessible than others, making them worth exploring.
- From Dino Crisis to Silent Hill, these retro horror games offer engaging stories, memorable characters, and challenging gameplay that stand the test of time.
If you love horror games but only have the newest gaming systems, you might get tired of all the recent horror titles and want to spice it up a bit. In that case, it’s a perfect time to play a retro horror game.
These are often vastly different than what you get today in the horror genre but are still just as good, if not better. Unfortunately, the downside to going retro is that it’s going to hurt your wallet because, depending on how you get a hold of them, these retro titles tend to be extremely expensive. Some are definitely more accessible than others, though.
10 Dino Crisis
Capcom’s Dino Crisis series is one that many want to come back. The last entry was back on the original Xbox, but the first two games were really damn good. Dino Crisis 1 is the entry more focused on pure horror, and at release, it was probably the peak of the genre in terms of mechanical complexity.
These Dinos are much smarter than your Resident Evil Zombies. They actively hunt you, can go into rooms, and get harder as you progress. You might think this game’s pretty easy at first, but when you get to the second half, the difficulty ramps up significantly. With high replay value and multiple endings, it’s a great PS1 horror title.
9 Haunting Ground
Haunting Ground is such a good game, and sadly, many won’t be able to play it because it’s one of the most expensive games on the PS2. Taking place in an awesome atmospheric castle, you play as Fiona and bond with a dog named Hewie to escape. This is a true M for Mature title because the dark content, subject matter, and villain motivation are really disturbing.
Haunting Ground has one of the most messed up bad endings you’ll ever find in a game. Its gameplay is similar to an improved Clock Tower due to the large number of available options you have. This includes your best bud Hewie, which can attack your pursuer. Haunting Ground does have some backtracking issues, but besides that, it’s a phenomenal ride of a horror game.
8 Sweet Home
If you’re looking for a horror masterpiece to play that you’ve never experienced, you must check out Sweet Home for the NES. This is especially true if you’re a Resident Evil fan, as Sweet Home is essentially its progenitor. A Japanese-exclusive game based on the 1989 horror film Sweet Home is an RPG survival horror hybrid.
Both aspects hold up amazingly today. Compared to most other NES RPGs, Sweet Home remains pretty accessible to modern players. Many younger gamers will likely drop most other NES RPGs due to their dated elements, but not so much here. Combined with a great story with many twists and turns, you have a must-play retro horror title.
Another incredibly expensive horror gem is Illbleed for the Dreamcast. Taking place in a horror-themed amusement park, you go through six levels of pure chaos. It’s a truly wild horror title for the time. Much of the gameplay uses your camera to spot traps in a manner very similar to Minesweeper.
It’s great once you get it down, but the combat is the usual clunkiness you’d see at the time. Regardless, the story, cutscenes, and ridiculous things that occur really hooks you. It’s one of those games you continue to play just to see what wild stuff happens next.
6 Parasite Eve
Square Enix’s major horror series is Parasite Eve, and out of the trilogy, you can’t top the original. Its soundtrack is outstanding, and it offers a unique but fun battle system. It is a great story as well. Aya Brea is a phenomenal female protagonist and definitely up there with the best female horror leads in gaming.
It is among the best RPGs on the PS1, and unfortunately, neither of its two sequels was even close in quality. What’s also really cool is that Parasite Eve has neat post-game content with a 77-floor mega-dungeon, the Chrysler Building. That will truly test your skills.
5 Zombies Ate My Neighbors
One of the best 16-bit horror games has to be Zombies Ate My Neighbors by LucasArts. The enemy variety is virtually unmatched in the horror genre, plus you have a wide variety of locations, too. In the game, you must rescue ten neighbors, and after rescuing them all, you can continue to the next level. They can die, though, and if all ten perish, it’s game over.
Even though the title is more of a 2D action game, it does feel like survival horror in terms of managing your scarce resources. This especially comes into play with the bosses, which require a ton of firepower to kill. Luckily, you can play Zombies Ate My Neighbors on modern platforms, so you won’t need to empty your wallet for it.
4 Siren: Blood Curse
While Siren: Blood Curse is a PS3 game, it released in 2008, which should be old enough to make it retro. Blood Curse is one of the best horror games on the PS3 and one of the best of the generation. A reimagining of the first game, Blood Curse does a great job of disempowering you to make the experience more scary.
A great example of this is the level where you play as a defenseless little girl. Blood Curse is a real hidden gem as it was released digital-only in the West. Keep in mind this was 2008, when physical purchases were still the large majority. Since Siren is a first-party Sony IP, they should definitely do more with the series, and a full PS5 remake of Blood Curse would be awesome.
3 Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly
Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly is one of those sequels vastly superior in almost every way. The first game was solid but had many flaws, like exploring the same areas countless times. The second game has a better story, better atmosphere, better puzzles, and better replay value with more endings.
It’s much scarier than the original, and even people more resistant to horror games will still be affected. Crimson Butterfly is the peak of the series, and a remaster would be nice as the first three installments are a bit pricey nowadays.
2 Silent Hill
A lot of people would put Silent Hill 2 here, but the first game is the best place to start in the series. Plus, it has a much higher quality than something like the first Fatal Frame, so you shouldn’t skip it. SH1 is still scary today, even with its old visuals.
Be warned that you must actually pay attention to know what’s going on in the story. If you don’t read text files in games like Starfield or Cyberpunk 2077, that behavior is punished here. However, it’s so awesome when you finally connect all the dots after looking into everything. Truly great horror never ages, and Silent Hill 1 is a good example.
1 Resident Evil Remake
The peak of old-school survival horror is the 2002 Resident Evil remake. In an incredibly unique scenario, this remake is directed by the same person as the original, Shinji Mikami. This gives the remake an authentic feel of a creator truly expanding upon and fulfilling the vision he originally wanted. Not only are the prerendered backgrounds better than ever, but many gameplay tweaks were added.
Zombies can now barge into rooms; more surprise attacks were included, and of course, the deadly Crimson Heads. Many of these tweaks further challenge you to plan out your routes in the most efficient manner. For the longest time, the Resident Evil 1 remake has been the standard example of how to do a video game remake, and it’s for good reason.
NEXT: Best Horror Game Remakes