For as long as there have been video games, there have been horror games that bring out the darkest shadows.
Granted, retro horror games (like the ones on NES) weren’t all that terrifying—how scary can 8-bit pixels and MIDI sounds really be?—but we can applaud them for trying.
It wasn’t until the era of 32-bit gaming consoles that horror video games truly took off. The PlayStation gave us Resident Evil and Silent Hill, both of which did the best they could with that system’s limited capabilities.
And then with the PlayStation 2, developers ratcheted up the gore and tension, which is why the PS2 is still remembered as one of the best gaming consoles for horror games.
Here are the most scary horror PS2 games of all time.
10. Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 2 is an unrelenting, grueling game—and one that I personally have zero interest in. But people love it. Why? I don’t know! Maybe they like feeling terrible.
Maybe I’m just in the wrong here. Regardless, feel free to play it if you feel like your day has been going a little too well and you don’t want to sleep well tonight.
Originally a Sega Dreamcast release, many called Resident Evil Code: Veronica X the best game in the series (at least, at the time it was released).
This didn’t last long because it was quickly dethroned by Resident Evil 4, but Code: Veronica is still well worth playing, whether you’re a fan of the series or not.
The Clock Tower games that preceded this entry in the series were mainly about running away from threats.
And while Clock Tower 3 still involves a lot of running away, it gives you the chance to fight back against the enemies at a point in each level. The gameplay is somewhat lacking, but the storyline makes up for it.
Developed alongside Silent Hill 3 (which was originally going to be an on-rails shooter), this is the final game in the series handled by original developer Team Silent.
While large portions of it do take place in a single room, the game goes plenty of places you wouldn’t expect.
Like more than a few survival-horror games, Siren encourages the player to flee the enemies (“Shibito”) more than fight them. This is mainly because, while you can knock out Shibito, you can’t kill them, so there isn’t much of a point in engaging in combat.
This is a tough game and not for the faint of heart, but the unique “sightjacking” mechanic makes it worth revisiting.
5. The Thing
The Thing is based off the classic horror movie of the same name, which is enough to warrant being on this list by itself. But The Thing goes further than being a direct adaptation.
At any point in time, a member of your team can turn out to be the titular Thing and start attacking you when you least expect it. How’s that for tension and scares?
What if Pokémon Snap was a horror game? Fatal Frame III isn’t exactly that, but you do play as a photographer whose main weapon is a vintage camera.
In an interesting touch for hardcore fans, you sometimes revisit locations from the earlier games in the series as different characters with unique abilities.
The Suffering is a survival-horror game designed for gamers who prefer a little more action with their horror.
It also features a morality system, which affects the ending you get—something that wasn’t seen a whole lot in PlayStation 2 games, but would become more prominent in years to come.
If you don’t have a PlayStation 2 but want to play Resident Evil 4, good news! It’s so popular that Capcom never stopped putting it out. Any modern gaming console can play Resident Evil 4!
It’s probably due for a remake soon too, so play the original while you can if you want to all snobby about the eventual remake.
Most people will point to Silent Hill 2 as the best game in the series, but for my money Silent Hill 3 has one thing going for it over that game: it’s a direct sequel to the first game.
To say why would spoil things, but if you loved the original Silent Hill, you owe it to yourself to play this one.
More Awesome PS2 Games Worth Playing
While plenty of the games we’ve looked at here are plenty gory—as gory as a PS2 game can be, anyway—not all of them are. The Silent Hill series, for example, relies as much on psychological gore as it does weird babies with knives.
Plenty of other PS2 games have stood the test of time, providing experiences as thrilling and memorable as these horror games. Want to play them? You can check them out on PlayStation Now: