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The 2000s are considered a pioneering era for horror games as they received major new features and the genre improved drastically in general. Although lacking in graphics, at least compared to modern games, most horror games released at the time, similar to horror movies of the 2000s, offered fans unique aspects.
From creepy music and spooky dialogue that sends shivers down the spine of gamers, to 3D horror and psychological features developed for the first time, some games from the 2000s managed to shine.
UPDATED: 2022/10/26 5:26 PM EST BY SHAWN S. LEALOS
There are countless horror games in the market for every game system. However, when the scary season comes around, many gamers want to find something fresh and new even if it is only new to them. The best place to find these gems is to look to the past. The 2000s saw a huge wave of great horror games, with gameplay becoming something special when the PS2 hit the market. These games include some of the scariest and most disturbing stories to keep horror fans up at night.
Obscure is a survival horror game that arrived in 2005 around the same time that Resident Evil 4 redefined what horror games meant. It also means that Obscure was a game that mostly disappointed critics at the time, as it was a throwback to what Resident Evil was. Despite that, it’s a game that proves that playing by the rules of the genre can still produce a fun experience.
The only change is that it takes place in a high school, so the main characters are teenagers trying to survive the onslaught of the monster instead of military men. A mix of a high school horror movie with Lovecraftian monsters, the visuals are great and the atmosphere is spooky, making it an interesting throwback to revisit.
Rose’s Rule (2006)
Rule of Rose is one of the most disturbing horror games of the 2000s. is what takes this game to great heights.
The story follows a woman named Jennifer who finds herself trapped in a terrifying world of sinister and dangerous creatures. This is not a story for anyone who wants to see a happy ending, as a group of bloodthirsty girls force her to bring them offerings, and the final sacrifice is the tragic twist in this story.
Siren was a great game when it came out in 2004, but sadly it has been forgotten over the years. It’s disappointing because there’s a lot to like about the series, and it deserves a revival, or a possible remake for the horror game market.
This first game in the series is divided into different stories based on the arrival of demonic zombies called The Shibito. Throughout the course, the player will take control of different characters who must complete objectives while staying alive. The story bounces around, with a non-linear timeline and the mysteries slowly unfold. It’s a cult classic despite its obscure game status.
Extermination hit in 2001, and it was one of the first survival horror games for the PS2. While the creative team included members of the Resident Evil team, this game involved a lot more action. It shares a lot in common with The Thing, as it centers on a special ops officer investigating strange happenings at a base in the South Pole.
The creatures are scary, and if they bite the player, it’s game over when the infection kicks in. The game’s controls will be familiar to anyone who’s played Silent Hill, but there’s a nice twist where the player can enter first. person when using a gun to aim the scope. The graphics are nothing compared to other survival horror games on the market, but it has that familiar story action that fans of the survival horror genre are eating up.
Convicted: Criminal Origins (2005)
Condemned offered a unique approach to horror games at that time thanks to its improved AI. Enemies appeared as if they were able to think, and constantly hid and scared the player, with near perfect timing.
It’s considered a pioneer of the genre and a solid horror game overall, and it truly revolutionized the genre with its exceptional brutality and violence.
Nosferatu: Malachi’s Wrath (2003)
In Nosferatu: The Wrath of Malachi, the protagonist travels to Pennsylvania to attend his sister’s wedding to a Romanian earl. However, it turns out that the Earl was a vampire and his family was imprisoned by him.
The game’s dialogues and scenes bring chills and fear to the player. The most unique aspect is that the layout of the castle is randomly generated at the start of each game, which really increases its replay value in a way that hardly any of the game’s contemporaries can match.
In Carrier, several characters investigate a spooky environment after being separated by a mysterious attack. The game stands out for being one of the first 3D games ever, which was done surprisingly well.
The title also stands out for another reason, as the socio-political storyline that served as the backdrop for the game itself was surprisingly intricate and detailed, developing a fictional world far richer than many games of its time.
Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (2002)
Eternal Darkness is a GameCube exclusive, and it was the first M-rated game released by Nintendo. It is known to bear many similarities to the more well-known Resident Evil series.
Eternal Darkness really digs into its own cosmic horror themes, and there’s a strong element of psychological horror woven into the story and gameplay too. The narrative itself is one of the game’s strengths, and it’s not afraid to get a little experimental.
The Suffering (2004)
The Suffering follows the story of Torque, a prisoner who has been sentenced to death for the murder of his wife and children, although Torque does not actually remember committing said crimes. The game begins when the prison he is sent to begins to be attacked by supernatural entities.
The most unique aspect of this game is that choices matter. He offers 3 alternate endings based on the choices given, all offering a different explanation for his journey.
Cryostasis: Sleep Of Reason (2008)
Cryostasis is a psychological horror game set in the arctic biome. The player takes on the role of a meteorologist, who is part of the crew of a sunken ship. By finding dead crewmates, he can change the weather and change their past decisions, his ultimate goal being to save the ship from sinking.
While it offers a chilling experience of battling the cold and past memories, the slow-paced gameplay might be frustrating for some players. Nonetheless, it’s still a great game that offers an interesting take on the psychological horror genre.
Cold Fear (2005)
Cold Fear is Ubisoft’s first horror game. The main feature of the game was the wide variety of player animations available (much more than any other game of the time). However, it was often compared to Resident Evil 4, which was obviously to the game’s detriment in the long run.
Sure, Resident Evil 4 is a hard-to-surpass classic, but Cold Fear still has a lot to offer and holds its own more than a decade after its initial release.
Barrow Hill: Curse of the Old Circle (2006)
Barrow Hill is a point-and-click horror adventure game where the player is called upon to investigate a haunted archaeological site. Its biggest feature is that it offers a more open world compared to most other games, and thus gives the player more choices on where to investigate and what to find.
It manages to maintain a certain immersion in the story and is a unique take on the open-world horror genre.
Clive Barker’s Immortal (2001)
In Clive Barker’s Undying, the player investigates paranormal hauntings that killed a friend’s family. It features an impressive combination of horror, action, and puzzle-solving, and Clive Barker’s seal of approval clearly gives it a leg up among horror titles.
Undying is also quite distinctive as it is a period piece, following an Irish paranormal investigator in the 1920s. Given Clive Barker’s background in different forms of horror media, Undying makes for a great introduction to horror games for the uninitiated.