Horror games really came into their own in the mid-90s, with both consoles and PC taking advantage of new techniques made possible with 3D visuals and Full Motion Video.
Though early examples were clunky and perhaps not particularly scary. Alone in the Dark is a good, early example of a game that was more tense than scary, though very impressively cinematic – and supposedly scary FMV games like Night Trap, which appears on our list of the Best Sega CD Games were unintentionally campy and consequently not scary at all.
It was games such as Resident Evil that truly nailed the balance between tension, fear and compelling gameplay (the sequels even made it to our Best PS1 Horror Games List).
Since then, further advances in visuals and sound have meant that there have been many unforgettable horror games gracing consoles and computers, with ever more grisly and convincing audiovisual experiences becoming possible.
Sony’s PlayStation 3 played host to some fantastic examples of the genre, several of which were exclusive to the console.
So come with me to the dank, creature filled cellar at Retro GamTowers…and let’s take a look at the 10 Best PlayStation 3 Horror Games then, shall we?
10. Limbo (2010)
Originally releasing on Xbox Live Arcade, this 2D, side-scrolling indie platform game did make its way to PlayStation 3 – and it was a fantastic experience.
A dark, oppressive atmosphere oozes from every sequence in Kimbo, which sees players in control of a small boy running through a dangerous, surreal landscape overrun with terrifyingly deadly creatures.
A masterclass in audiovisual design, Limbo creates a strong bond between the player and the character, who’s frequently, gorily dismembered thanks to the large number of lethal traps and horrible beasts dotted throughout the game’s world.
The story, like the game’s presentation, is very minimal – allowing a certain amount of interpretation on the part of the player as to what’s actually happening.
It’s a clever little puzzle platformer that’s satisfying to play and laden with scares; an excellent start to the Best PS3 Horror Games List.
9. Siren: Blood Curse (2008)
Terrifying enough in its original PS2 incarnation – known as Forbidden Siren in PAL regions – Siren: Blood Curse is a reimagining of the first game in the Siren series (though it broadly retains the basic events and story, the characters are new and much of the gameplay has been updated).
One of the signature features of the series is the ‘sightjacking’ – which allows players to see through the eyes of the zombie-like enemies – and it’s just as intense and disturbing as ever in this version of the game.
Making the game a little more forgiving this time around is the fact that the sightjacking is now splitscreen, with players able to see themselves in third person, allowing a chance to more easily react to threats. The story, with a rotating cast of interconnecting characters, gives the game a strong narrative feel – but the scares are still very much present too.
8. Silent Hill HD Collection (2012)
The Silent Hill games have been scaring players out of their wits since the first game appeared on the PS1 in 1999.
This compilation of Silent Hill 2 and Silent Hill 3 – each of which released on the PS2 abs which are remastered in high definition in this collection – are arguably where the series peaked, with Silent Hill 2 in particular still lauded as one of the scariest horror games ever made.
Though neither of the games have aged well in terms of their controls, the narratives, the atmosphere and the scares have retained their power over time.
Unbelievably, Silent Hill 2 is now 20 years old, with Silent Hill 3 now well into its teenage years – having been released in 2003.
The HD Collection gives the games a visual upgrade and also newly recorded voice acting, but leaves the gameplay untouched, sadly. It’s also a shame that the first and fourth games aren’t included – especially given the ‘Collection’ title, which is a bit cheeky with only half of the PS1 & PS2 games included.
Still, what’s here still has the power to get inside your head and stay there even when you’re away from your console – which is a real testament to how strong both titles have always been. It’s a no brainer to include them on the list of the Best PS3 Horror Games.
7. Lone Survivor: The Director’s Cut (2013)
As Limbo showed, fancy 3D visuals and FMV are definitely not needed to make a game truly scary; in fact, Lone Survivor proves that pixel art can do the job just fine.
This 2D indie psychological horror game features a protagonist who wears a surgical mask – and is the only survivor of an infection which has turned the population into mutants.
Barring the mutation element, the setting perhaps feels even scarier and more powerful amidst the COVID-19 situation.
The main character’s state of mind can alter the game’s surroundings and can even see the player talking to animals or inanimate objects.
The game also features a number of different endings which unlock dependent on the player’s mental state at the end of the game or upon repeated playthroughs.
It’s a clever little game with some disturbing elements that definitely manages to get under your skin in a much more low key way than many other games on the Best PS3 Horror Games List.
6. Silent Hill: Homecoming (2008)
You didn’t think we’d seen the last of the Silent Hill games on this list with the HD Collection, did you? Here we are again with another game from the series; this time it isn’t a remaster; Homecoming was a new game for the then-current generation of consoles and PC in 2008.
Interestingly, Silent Hill: Homecoming was deemed so extreme from a violence and gore point of view that Australian and German censors refused to allow the game to be sold uncut.
Citing sequences such as characters being drilled into and bisected (yuck!), the game was essentially banned in those countries until the necessary cuts were made.
Despite the arguably excessive gore, Silent Hill: Homecoming is another title in the series that has an effectively oppressive atmosphere – and just as psychologically disturbing as other Silent Hill games.
That is to say: it really gets inside your head, so much so that it was an absolute must for the Best PS3 Horror Games List.
5. F.E.A.R. 2: Project Origin (2009)
The F.E.A.R. series of scary first person shooters have long lain dormant, which is a crying shame – it’d be great to see these games rise from the dead.
The final title in the main series – F.E.A.R 3 – was released way back in 2011, though a failed F2P multiplayer game (F.E.A.R Online) was quickly shut down after a Beta in 2015.
The spooky, black haired psychic girl from the first game returns, threatening to rewrite reality itself at her whim.
Due to the main character being armed and feeling a lot more powerful than many protagonists in games on this list, F.E.A.R 2 may not be the scariest horror title among the 10 Best PS3 Horror Games, but it’s a superb game that does still have its fair share of jump scares and spooky incidents, with a terrifyingly unreasonable antagonist for players to deal with.
4. Resident Evil 4 HD (2011)
It’s a real testament to the quality of Resident Evil 4’s design that the GameCube original (which was intended to be an exclusive and was part of the so-called ‘Capcom Five’ games – at least one of which made it to our very own Underrated GameCube Games list – with Resident Evil 4 itself featuring in our list of the Best GameCube Games) is barely touched in this HD remaster, with the original game already being six years old when the PS3 version was released.
The fourth title in the Resident Evil series really shook up the formula, with mind-controlled Spanish villagers replacing the zombies of the first three games.
The fixed camera angles were gone too, in favour of a third person, over-the-shoulder viewpoint, with the off-centre camera becoming de rigeur in the third person action genre – and still being the go-to viewpoint of choice in third person games.
Resident Evil 4 is still arguably the high point of the series past the original trilogy too, with this HD version being a very clear choice for the Best PS3 Horror Games List.
3. Alien Isolation (2014)
Sega’s sci-fi horror – developed by Creative Assembly, the creators of the Total War strategy series – is not only the best video game based on the Alien franchise to date, but also just a genuinely superb game in its own right.
Featuring an original story – set between Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic Alien and James Cameron’s more action-oriented 1986 sequel, Aliens – the game follows Amanda Ripley’s attempt to find her mother, who’s been missing since the Weyland-Yutani corporation lost contact with the deep space mining vessel, the Nostromo.
Arriving at a space station in disarray, being badly run by the financially struggling Seegson Corporation, it’s not long before Amanda runs into a very familiar alien organism, which is running loose and causing murderous havoc on the station.
The Alien – or, in franchise terms, the Xenomorph – is governed by some clever AI, with the game turning into an incredibly tense game of hide and seek as players attempt to evade the beast’s clutches and escape the station alive.
The story is fantastic, the Alien is absolutely terrifying throughout and – considering that the game targeted the PS4/Xbox One generation of consoles – still visually impressive on the then-aging PS3.
It’s let down by some pacing problems in the final act, going on way too long towards the end and feeling somewhat repetitive before the conclusion is reached, but the intense gameplay and unpredictable behaviour of the Xenomorph (as well as some terrifying, malfunctioning androids) still make Alien Isolation a very worthy entry on the Best PS3 Horror Games list.
2. Dead Space (2008)
Taking more than a few cues from deep space industrial horror such as Event Horizon and the aforementioned Alien – EA’s fantastic Dead Space is a scary, intense third person action game with some seriously scary enemies: the Necromorphs.
Not shy about wearing its influences on its blood soaked sleeve, the game’s protagonist, Isaac Clarke, is named after two of the most acclaimed science fiction authors of all time (Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke).
Setting out to find out what happened to his girlfriend aboard a mining ship, the Ishimura, Clarke encounters a lot more than he bargained for with the twisted, relentless and gorily designed Necromorphs.
The terrifying atmosphere is helped by some truly epic sound design and music – and it’s no wonder that the game’s recently announced remake has garnered a lot of attention and excitement, with the last time the Dead Space franchise saw an entry being Dead Space 3 in 2013 – which disappointed both critically and commercially.
Still, the first Dead Space remains an absolute classic and another obvious choice for the Best PS3 Horror Games List.
1. The Last of Us (2013)
It should surprise no one to see Naughty Dog’s phenomenal survival horror game The Last of Us at the very top of the Best PS3 Horror Games List.
It’s a genuine masterpiece – not just one of the very best horror games ever made, but one of the very best games ever, period.
The excellent third person gameplay, along with the superbly crafted narrative, stellar cinematic sequences and excellent performances, all combine to make it an absolute classic.
The game’s central relationship – between characters Joel and Ellie – is brilliantly handled and the narrative’s twists and turns are emotional, heartfelt and genuine.
The duo face off against terrifying infected humans in visceral, challenging, graphically violent combat – but other human survivors in the game’s post-apocalyptic world can be just as deadly, if not more so, than the Infected.
A controversial sequel was released for the PS4 in 2020 that divided audiences thanks to some of the narrative choices made by the game’s designers, but the first game remains fondly remembered by critics and gamers alike.