During this year alone, multiple horror games have been released on the PS5, including interactive dramas like The Quarry, action adventures like Ghostwire: Tokyo, and psychological horrors like Martha is Dead. Since the PS2 had an unusually long lifespan of over 12 years, which led to the console having over 10,828 games (as reported by GameSpot), it’s not surprising that the PS2 also had plenty of unique horror titles.
Some of these PS2 games, like the beat ’em up Chaos Legion, are sadly forgotten. Though these games have faded into obscurity, they each have unique gameplay ideas that make them worth revisiting.
UPDATE: 2022/10/29 00:15 EST BY SHAWN S. LEALOS
While videogames have moved into very high definition quality with the PlayStation 5, that does not mean that gamers should discount the games that came before. With Halloween season here, it is a nice time to throw on some great horror games and there are some that many fans have possibly forgotten about from the PS2. The horror gaming industry was really exploding when the PS2 hit, with Resident Evil and Silent Hill spawning several new ideas to terrorize gamers of all age. While the graphics are not as good as the PS5, the storylines are always what is more important and there is a lot to love when going back to rediscover some obscure games from Halloween’s past.
Shadow Hearts Series (2001-2005)
Following the 1999 PS1 prequel Koudelka, Shadow Hearts is a trilogy of alternate history cosmic horror PS2 JRPGs. Inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and Devilman, the games follow various different characters as they deal with supernatural events that are tied to actual historical events and individuals.
Besides being a horror-based JRPG, the games are also unique for having a mechanic known as the “Judgement Ring” during turn-based battles, which requires players to press buttons at the right time in order for attacks to work. Also, the games usually have the “bad” endings as the canonical endings. If players want a different kind of JRPG experience, then they should definitely try this series.
Chaos Legion (2003)
Despite being referred to by some reviewers at the time as a Devil May Cry rip-off, the 2003 game Chaos Legion is mostly a traditional third-person button-mashing beat-em-up. Developed by Capcom, the game has players fight swarms of demonic enemies through various gothic-inspired stages. To help fight these intense hordes, the player can obtain and summon supernatural creatures known as “Legions.”
Loosely based on a series of seven light novels written by Japanese novelist Tow Ubukata, the game follows Sieg Wahrheit, who is a Knight of the Dark Glyphs, as he hunts down his former friend, Victor Delacroix. Though the plot is fairly standard, the gameplay is perfect for players looking for a challenging yet simple brawler.
Darkwatch: Curse Of The West (2005)
Released in 2005, Darkwatch: Curse of the West is a unique FPS that mixes the genres of spaghetti western and gothic horror. Taking place in the Wild West during the late 19th century, the game follows an outlaw gunslinger named Jericho Cross who ends up in the titular secret monster-hunting organization after accidentally releasing a vampire lord named Lazarus Malkoth.
Since Jericho is slowly transforming into a vampire after getting bitten by Lazarus, the player will gain different abilities depending on their in-game choices, which gives some customization and replay value. Also, there are two endings depending on which female protagonist the player sides with: Cassidy or Tala.
Fatal Frame (2001)
Fatal Frame has a nice lifespan, with five games in the series, none of which are bad. Each of the games presents an interesting take on the horror game genre, and all deserve a ply from true horror fans. However, the one that started it all is still one of the best with Fatal Frame on the PS2.
Even today, Fatal Frame holds up with the more polished and slick horror games on the PS5. The game isn’t as scary as others, but the tension and dread is intense, and that is more important in many ways. The gameplay is similar to Resident Evil, searching a big mansion for clues and secrets, and the combat is a bit simplistic, but the story is as terrifying as you can get.
Echo Night: Beyond (2005)
Echo Night was originally a PlayStation game and fit in well with Resident Evil and Silent Hill. However, unlike those two game, Echo Night remained a bit more obscure. While it had its diehard fans, it never reached the popularity of its contemporaries.
However, take a good look at Echo Night: Beyond, the third game in the series that arrived for the PlayStation 2, and find a game still worth playing years later. The first two games presented murder mysteries with demonic forces involved. While the second game went back in time, Beyond jumped into the future and sent Richard to the moon, where he still couldn’t escape the horrors. The game also brought in the then unique heart rate monitor and that helped elevate the game’s tension levels.
The Thing (2002)
It is often hard to find video games based on movies that are anywhere near as good as the source material. In most cases, they are cash grabs to bring in the movie’s fans and then leave them with a disappointing gaming experience. That didn’t happen when a sequel to John Carpenter’s The Thing hit the PS2.
The story is mostly the same setting as the movie. An alien shows up at a remote Antarctic research station, an alien that can take the form of anyone. The game is a third person horror survival game with the main character being Special Forces soldier Captain Blake investigating the station and finding more monsters than anyone could have expected.
The Suffering (2004)
The Suffering hit in 2004 on the PS2 and was a game that bought into the idea that a gamer’s actions would influence the story. Instead of someone playing through and seeing the story written for them, the choices they made will determine their actual fate in life. In this case, it is a prisoner on death row accused of killing his ex-wife and two kids, but he has no memories of it.
When an earthquake devastates the prison and supernatural forces attack, it gives this man a second chance. The choices the gamer makes will determine what really happened in the past and if Torque is a good or bad man. While mostly forgotten now, this is a PS2 game that was ahead of its time.
Cold Fear (2005)
The biggest problem with Cold Fear was the timing of its release. It hit right after the release of Resident Evil 4, arguably one of the best games in that series. Many fans saw it as a copycat game, and that really isn’t fair. However, that is why it is forgotten compared to the RE series.
The main character is a Coast Guardsman who in sent in to investigate an abandoned Russian whaling ship. However, this is not an abandoned ship, but one full of mindless zombies. The game also brings a different aspect to survival horror, as it takes place on a ship in the ocean at night, and there is no escape. The gameplay is great and this is a PS2 game that deserves a second chance.
The Fear (2001)
Before becoming Square Enix, Enix was a video game publisher best known for JRPG franchises such as the Dragon Quest series. But they also released plenty of non-JRPG titles, which includes the 2001 Japan-only FMV game The Fear. In this game, the player is a cameraman who is part of the crew tasked with filming a group of young idols at a spooky mansion.
When dangerous supernatural things begin happening, the cameraman must help guide the group out of this nightmare with the help of the spiritually sensitive idol girl Yukari. With a detailed set, great cinematography, excellent sound design, and some unique gameplay mechanics, players will be invested and want to experience the game’s multiple endings.
Blood: The Last Vampire (2000)
From 1998 to 2000, famous Japanese animation studio Production I.G helped develop a series of six Japan-only FMV games known as the Yarudora series. Instead of simply having still images, these visual novels feature hours of beautifully animated footage with choices that lead to over 20 different endings. The sixth and last installment in this series is the 2000 game Blood: The Last Vampire.
Underrated but one of the best anime games, and based off the anime film of the same name, the game follows the female protagonist Saya as she continues hunting the bloodsucking bat-like creatures known as chiropterans in modern Tokyo. As a 17-year-old boy, the player meets Saya and attempts to learn about her and her motives. Because the game has over two hours of high-quality animation, it’s possibly one of the most expensive visual novels ever produced.
Blood+ One Night Kiss (2006)
Created by well-known game designer Goichi Suda, who is also known by his alias Suda51, Blood+ One Night Kiss is a 2006 Japan-only action-adventure game that features the same cel-shaded art style as Suda51’s previous cult-classic Killer7. Based on the anime series Blood+, which is an alternate continuity of the original Blood: The Last Vampire, the game takes place after episode seven during an unaccounted-for day.
Set within the fictional town of Shikishi, players take control of both the protagonist of Blood+, a high school girl named Saya Otonashi, and an original character created for the game, a detective named Kou Aoyama as they battle the bat-like chiropterans. Despite being based on an anime, the game still contains Suda51’s unique ideas and charm.
Phase Paradox (2001)
Released in 2001, Phase Paradox is a science fiction adventure game with some survival horror aesthetics. Despite being another example of a great Japan-only horror game, Phase Paradox is actually a sequel to the 1995 PS1 shoot ’em up Philosoma, which had an official international release. After the colonized Planet 220 explodes, the game takes place on the spacecraft carrier Gallant, which was damaged in the explosion.
As strange creatures begin appearing, the player controls three crew members named Jude, Renee, and Alia as they attempt to survive. While Philosoma features top-down, side-scrolling, and rail shooter gameplay, Phase Paradox mostly has players walk around 3D environments with fixed camera angles and make choices in cutscenes that lead to different endings. Similar to Metal Wolf Chaos, this game features English voice acting.
Van Helsing (2004)
Although they have a bad reputation, some licensed games can actually be good. One example of this is the 2004 action-adventure game Van Helsing, which is based on the 2004 action horror film of the same name. Like the movie, the game follows the titular monster hunter as he hunts down Dracula in order to help a woman named Anna, whose family has been cursed to never enter heaven until Dracula is killed.
While most would agree that the film is terrible, the game is actually fairly enjoyable with combat that is strikingly similar to Devil May Cry. Along with having multiple new enemies, hidden challenges, and fun unlockable abilities, the game also consistently introduces new gameplay elements, which helps keep the experience from becoming repetitive.
Hunter: The Reckoning – Wayward (2003)
Based on the tabletop RPG Hunter: The Reckoning, which is part of the larger World of Darkness setting that also includes titles like Vampire: The Masquerade, Hunter: The Reckoning – Wayward is a 2003 hack-and-slash that takes place two years after the 2002 Hunter: The Reckoning game. Within the recently rebuilt town of Ashcroft, supernatural creatures are once again reappearing because of a cult of witches.
To help the two hunters inside the town, the four main characters from the previous game named Deuce, Samantha, Father Cortez, and Kassandra travel to their hideout, but there’s nobody there. Now the group must find them and save the town. Besides the new story, this sequel also adds two new classes, the Wayward and Risen, which leads to some replay value.
Even though the game was recently re-released on the PS4, the 2003 action adventure Primal is still largely forgotten. The game follows a 21-year-old woman named Jennifer “Jen” Tate who is critically injured while trying to prevent her boyfriend Lewis from being kidnaped by a demonic being. While in a coma, a gargoyle named Skree pulls Jen’s spirit out of her body and brings her on a journey to save the universe.
During the game, Jen and Scree must travel through four unique realms and help the inhabitants. Jen is the only one who can fight, but the player will need to control Skree as well to solve puzzles. As the player progresses, Jen gains new forms with new abilities, which allows players to choose their own fighting styles. Since the voice actors recorded their lines together, which was a novel idea at the time, Jen and Skree’s conversations are fun and engaging.
NEXT: 10 Best Horror-Based RPGs, According To Metacritic