The survival-horror genre is characterized by having limited resources with scary themes, though there are deviations and additions that can be added to the formula. The genre’s inception started off with games like 1992’s Alone in the Dark for the PC or 1989’s Sweet Home for the NES.
However, 1996’s Resident Evil is what truly popularized the genre. When it comes to the system with the largest and arguably best selection of survival horror games, many will point to the PlayStation 2. Plenty of great new survival horror franchises started on this platform, and many already-established franchises had some of their greatest entries.
Updated on October 19, 2023, by Dominic Allen: The best platform to play horror games is the PC, but in terms of consoles, the PS2 is likely the top dog. There are so many good horror games, and definitely more than just ten. With Halloween around the corner, it’s time to revisit one of the greatest catalogs of horror games ever.
14 Silent Hill 3
Silent Hill 2 is the most critically acclaimed entry of the franchise, but Silent Hill 3 is also damn good and debatably scarier. The environments, monsters, and quality sound design expected from Team Silent are all extremely well done.
A direct sequel to the first game, you should definitely play SH1 first to get the full effect of the story. While it doesn’t have the complexities of the second instalment, it is a great sequel to SH1 that ties everything together, leading to a very satisfying conclusion. Plus, the characters are all great, including Claudia, who’s a fantastic antagonist.
13 Resident Evil: Outbreak
The most underrated Resident Evil game has to be Outbreak, the two entries. This game was designed for cooperative online play, an oddity for the PS2. However, surprisingly, there are ways to still play online via PC if you have the know-how. The community is still alive for this game, and that shows the testament to how fresh this title is in the whole franchise.
It’s the final classic-style Resident Evil game but with the highest replayability yet. There are so many routes and things you can do in the ten scenarios between the two games that you’ll never get bored. The boss fights are sick, as well, and the soundtrack is one of the best in the franchise.
12 Fatal Frame 3: The Tormented
Fatal Frame 3: The Tormented is very much like Silent Hill 4, but better. Both games swap you between reality and the dream world, and slowly, the nightmarish dreams transition into reality. This aspect is handled exceptionally well in both, but Fatal Frame 3 does offer more fun dream sections.
The latter half of SH4 can be a total pain with the escort mission, but that’s absent in Fatal Frame 3, leading to a smoother experience. The story’s also better, linking Fatal Frame 1 and 2 well. A significant part of the backstory to SH4 isn’t even in the game but included in the now-defunct game website, which is a sure negative.
11 Gregory Horror Show
This is a horror game you’ve probably never heard of, at least if you live in the US. Gregory Horror Show was released on the PS2 exclusively in Europe and Japan and is based on the Japanese CGI animated series of the same name. Set in a haunted hotel, you must capture the souls of the various odd inhabitants, but that’s easier said than done.
What makes this game so good is the characters. They’re filled with so much personality, and they’re all highly memorable. After playing, you’ll never forget Judgment Boy, who shouts Judgment as if he’s a Pokemon. Gregory Horror Show is pretty short, however, but you could argue that makes it better to replay during the spooky October season.
Lifeline is an incredibly ambitious and creative game. Rather than directly controlling a character, you would guide a character with voice commands. In Lifeline, you guide a young lady named Naomi through a monster-infested space station.
When Naomi enters into a fight against the creatures, you tell her where to aim her gun and where to shoot. When not fighting, you can have small talk with Naomi and find out more about her while you slowly uncover the secrets of the space station and the monsters that are causing havoc within it.
9 Haunting Ground
Haunting Ground is a spiritual sequel to Clock Tower 3, in which you can attack and dodge enemies, but all of your actions are tied to your stamina, which you must keep an eye on. You can also have a dog you befriend early in the game fight for you by giving it commands.
Commanding the dog is a large part of the experience, and while it can be a struggle at first, the dog gets better over time. Haunting Ground is a phenomenal and decently lengthy PS2 horror title that’s worth the high price. It’s got good puzzles, truly evil antagonists, and great replay value, too.
Siren inserts real people’s faces onto polygonal character models, giving the game as a whole a very off-putting feeling. In Siren, you can look through the eyes of the enemy, which is used as a way to hide from or avoid them entirely.
Each stage is played out by a different character, with all of the objectives interconnected, which will create an effect in different stages. It’s a solid horror game, but you must use a guide, as the way to progress can be so cryptic at times. Siren’s remake, Siren Blood Curse on the PS3, is much better and easily the best game in the series.
Set in feudal Japan, Kuon takes a lot of influence from Japanese history and mythology. A large mechanic within the game is that while running is possible, it will both decrease your health and attract nearby enemies, so you must creep through the stage, which acts as a great way to increase tension.
In order to refill your health, you must stand still, temporarily be vulnerable, and meditate. It is typically more advantageous to avoid enemies in Kuon; however, you do have a very short blade as well as some magic to help keep the enemies away from you.
6 Echo Night: Beyond
Echo Night: Beyond is a very interesting take on the survival horror genre. You are in a haunted spaceship and must help the dead pass rather than attempting to fight them. To help ghosts pass, you learn about them, find an item that used to be theirs, and bring it to them.
There is no combat within the game and no way of defending yourself. Instead, you must activate the ventilation system where the ghost resides in order to avoid it. It’s a neat take on first-person horror, especially as this weaponless gameplay would dominate the genre into the 2010s after Amnesia: The Dark Descent.
5 Rule Of Rose
Like Haunting Ground, in Rule of Rose, you have a dog helping you throughout your journey. Like many survival-horror games at the time, the combat in Rule of Rose is clunky and unintuitive, though it can be argued that it’s helpful in making you feel vulnerable.
This would also explain why the main character, Jennifer, attacks with short-ranged weak attacks as she fears the monsters she fights, with the best method of survival being to avoid enemies entirely. While this works well, for the most part, there are bosses in the game that must be fought, which can bring down the experience.
4 Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly
In the Fatal Frame series, you must fight ghosts by taking pictures of them rather than attempting to fight them head-on. This refers to the old myth that if you take a picture of someone, it will steal their soul. The camera used is called the Camera Obscura, and you must use different lenses and film throughout the game in order to stop some of the spirits.
Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly’sstory centers around twin sisters Mio and Mayu, who decide to explore an abandoned village and begin to experience paranormal events. It’s still one of the scariest horror games ever, with an amazing atmosphere. This haunted village will never leave your mind after playing it.
3 Clock Tower 3
The Clock Tower series had its start on the Super Nintendo with a Japanese exclusive entry where you played as a young girl running away from the Scissorman. There were also two sequels that were released in North America for the PlayStation 1 called Clock Tower and Clock Tower 2: The Struggle Within.
In Clock Tower 3,the main character is Alyssa Hamilton, a 14-year-old girl who is in boarding school. There’s little to do with the previous entries in the series, and as such, it is better viewed as a standalone game. It’s a fun time overall, and the cutscenes done by the late-great Kinji Fukasaku (Battle Royal) are some of the biggest highlights.
2 Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 4 was the first main game in the series to ditch the fixed camera angle perspective held in the first few instalments. This title also had a lot more action than previous games in the series, with large, over-the-top bosses and quick-time events that made it feel like an action movie.
While it did drastically deviate from the formula established in past games in the series, Resident Evil 4stands as one of the best in the series and helped usher in an entirely new genre with the third-person behind-the-back perspective.
1 Silent Hill 2
Silent Hill 2 is not only one of the best survival-horror games on the PlayStation 2 but also one of the greatest survival-horror games of all time. You play as James Sunderland, who has traveled to Silent Hill after receiving a letter from his dead wife that she was in there.
The game’s voice acting is stilted and awkward, creating an odd, eerie atmosphere that permeates throughout the entire game. You encounter many disfigured creatures throughout the game, most of which represent a broken part of James’s psyche. It simply has one of the greatest stories ever told in the medium, and it’s going to be a massive challenge for the remake to top it.
NEXT: Best Horror Game Sequels