Nostalgia has long played a role in the development of indie games; In years past, pixel-art platformers and pseudo-16-bit RPGs dominated the scene, but more recently the fixations seem to be set on the jagged, jarring polygons of the original PlayStation where many genre staples from today as the next resident Evil 8 downloadable contents first started.
In particular, fifth-generation 3D seems to be appealing to today’s horror game developers. Maybe it has something to do with the quirky and weird looking muddy textures and blocky models of the era, or it could be nostalgia for the start of the survival horror genre with games like silent Hill. Whatever the reason, PS1 horror is huge business right now, and these are some of the most exciting entries into the burgeoning gaming niche.
The fridge is red
A vignette of six horrific stories, The fridge is red is an upcoming indie title coming out in late September and promises to combine the surreal storytelling of stranger things and The twilight zone with an aesthetic similar to the first silent Hill Title.
As creative as it is frightening, The fridge is red seems like a landmark release in this upcoming horror release, and those who are still eager for concrete news regarding the rumored Silent Hill 2 remakes may want to try this in the meantime.
No one lives under the lighthouse
Overtly inspired by Robert Eggers’ 2019 horror film Lighthousefrom the Marevo collective No one lives under the lighthouse is a dark and dark title that sees the player step into the shoes of a lighthouse keeper tasked with maintaining the eponymous structure over a gray and rainy seven-day period.
Full of frights both subtle and extreme, No one lives under the lighthouse kicks off some very interesting concepts with unique second-person gameplay segments and entire segments played from the in-game monster’s perspective. This is a must-play game for fans of Lovecraftian horror, or for those who can’t quite just can’t get enough of the PS1 aesthetic.
A walking simulator set in a sort of dreamlike world that abruptly cuts between three distinct points of view, ParatopicThe surreal nature of is its main selling point. Relentlessly bizarre and difficult to decipher, the game evokes the vague terror 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 is something wrong Paratopic‘s world from the start. Although it’s less than an hour long, it’s worth playing to see how the unreal narrative unfolds.
Night at the gates of hell
An impetuous 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 Hillthe scariest monsters with the grotesque horror of classic 80s slasher movies. With Lucio Fulci’s zombie films listed as main inspirations, Night at the gates of hell creates a surprisingly disturbing and uncomfortable experience.
Night at the gates of hell commits fully to its downgraded B-movie premise and occasionally blurs the line between an anachronistic PS1 title and a budding found VHS movie. It’s also several hours long, making it an exception in a genre that mostly features shorter experiences.
A horror roguelike title that tasks a hapless protagonist with rescuing his girlfriend from the twisted and surreal bowls of a meat monstrosity known as The Gut, golden light is absolutely incomparable. A title that requires players to eat their weapons and inventory items in order to gain health, it’s a must-play for players obsessed with the weird and moody.
golden light doesn’t go for a deliberate PS1 aesthetic, but its low-poly world and disturbingly ambiguous enemies are definitely reminiscent of a time when limited visual fidelity required active imagination on the player’s part. It’s also a robust title that offers both online co-op and the weirdest Battle Royale you can play.
Back in 1995
Released in 2016, Back in 1995 was part of the vanguard of PS1 nostalgia, debuting years before some of the most notable titles in the still-burgeoning genre. A very literal title that describes the developer’s goal of uniting warped, gruff 3D gaming with nightmarish body horror.
Although it is often compared to silent Hill, Back in 1995 almost seems like it would be more at home on a Sega Saturn. Moreover, almost unbelievably slow and laborious, Back in 1995 is truly of its own weird breed, and it’s only suitable for those who can’t get enough of old-school horror.
Haunted PS1 Demo Disc 2020
The first in an annual collection of retro-stylized indie horror titles, Haunted PS1 Demo Disc 2020 is a selection of over a dozen byte-sized stories of terror meant to look like they could run on an original PlayStation console.
Heartbreaking first-person shooters like killer bees and Filthbreed in breathtaking exploration outfits Neko Yume and Fatum Betula, it’s an endlessly exotic collection of offbeat offers. It’s available for free on itch.io, which means almost anyone can try it out.
house of murder
Developed by Puppet Combo, a studio at the forefront of the PSX horror movement, the title bluntly house of murder follows an ill-fated TV news crew who encounter the Easter Ripper after traveling to a long-abandoned house to shoot a documentary.
Filled with flat textures, wacky models, and hilarious, offbeat voice acting, house of murder is extremely authentic in its depiction of a PlayStation title from the late 90s. That said, it’s also covered in filters that make it look like a bad horror movie bootleg, though to many that doesn’t only add to the charm. Additionally, the game looks incredibly awful, an aspect amplified by its otherwise simple graphics.
Released in early 2022, Bloodborne PSX is a ridiculously faithful recreation made by fans of FromSoftware transmitted by blood made to make it look like the title was released in 1995 instead of 2015. Although it only depicts the first area of the original game, takes some liberties and actually adds custom content to the game, it is nonetheless a perfect duplicate of the first PlayStation aesthetic is full of chirping textures and nearly indecipherable enemies.
A labor of love to rival the most legendary fan-generated video game content, Bloodborne PSX is the perfect experience for FromSoftware fans who have been around since the beginning of king’s field on Sony’s first console.
Created by Dusk developer David Szymanski, iron lung is an hour-long experience full of claustrophobic torment and nihilistic terror. Set in a universe in which every star has mysteriously vanished, what’s left of humanity desperately searches for a glimmer of hope in a future stretch of dead space.
The player pilots a leaky submarine through an ocean of blood and is tasked with taking pictures of some abnormal locations. With that in mind, the visuals aren’t a big part of the title, though the game’s low-poly nature certainly contributes to its dark, no-frills atmosphere.
NEXT: 10 Best Action & Horror Games On PS1