Let it never be said that handheld platforms don’t have good horror experiences on them. While some of the best horror games can be found on consoles and PC, there are almost as many terrifying gaming moments to be experienced on handheld platforms like Sony’s PSP (and even the Nintendo DS!).
If you’re still enjoying your time with your PSP, you’re not the only one; it’s got a surprisingly full and rich library of games to cater for all kinds of tastes, and yes, that includes some pretty excellent horror titles. Here are the best PSP horror games you can get right now. You may have to search around for these, especially if you’re looking for physical copies.
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
Despite being a venerated and well-liked horror series, Silent Hill has historically had issues with quality. While Silent Hill 2 is an undisputed classic of the horror genre that blends tragedy and scares in equal measure, games like Silent Hill 3 and Silent Hill Homecoming don’t quite match up to its promise. Happily, that criticism will come nowhere near Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. It can feel like a somewhat slow-paced affair, but its excellent storytelling, rich characterisation, and terrifying enemy encounters based around fleeing rather than fighting are all compelling reasons to give this one a try.
The 3rd Birthday
Remember Parasite Eve? Well, if you don’t, it won’t be too much of a problem if you’re planning to play The 3rd Birthday. Despite being part of the Parasite Eve role-playing horror series, The 3rd Birthday is also a loose spinoff, featuring only passing references to events in other games. You are Aya Brea, a member of investigatory outfit CTI, and it’s your job to rid your city of lurching monstrosities as only you know how: by shooting them until they are dead. The hybridisation of horror and RPG elements might not sound like it should work, but The 3rd Birthday is a great time, pacing itself expertly even as its narrative becomes a little convoluted.
ObsCure II (ObsCure: The Aftermath)
Known in Europe (and other PAL regions) as ObsCure II and in North America as ObsCure: The Aftermath, this survival horror sequel is a self-knowingly trashy take on high-school slasher movies with a healthy dollop of games like Resident Evil and Silent Hill thrown into the mix. The story is nothing to write home about, but the survival horror gameplay is solid and the environments are beautiful. There’s even local co-op if you’ve got someone else nearby with a PSP and a copy of the game. The original deserved its place among the most underrated horror games of its time, and the sequel can join it on that list as well.
Corpse Party and sequels
The Corpse Party series is a rather odd one indeed. The first game originally appeared on the PC-9801, which was the dominant machine in the Japanese PC gaming market for a long time, but it didn’t make its way to the PSP until 2010, when it was released in the West as Corpse Party Blood Covered: …Repeated Fear. At their hearts, the Corpse Party games are linear horror RPGs with a focus on monsters and party-building. Since the first game was created in the RPG Maker software suite, it’s not particularly technically impressive, but somehow that pixel art aesthetic makes for an even creepier time than full 3D graphics. Give this series a try if you’re after some PSP indie horror games.
Rockstar’s Manhunt series is very far removed from its big hitters Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption. It’s a dark, gritty psychological horror franchise with stealth elements in which you must navigate mazes of twisted serial killers and criminals in order to survive a sadistic game. The sequel ups the ante on the original’s controversial mixture of combat and sneaking, giving protagonist Daniel Lamb more options when fighting his enemies and also more ways to execute them without being seen. Of course, Manhunt 2 proved extremely controversial, with figures like Jack Thompson, Keith Vaz, and others joining the crusade against it.
Silent Hill: Origins
Unlike Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Origins is a much more straightforward horror game. It’s less a psychological experience and more a visceral one, bringing back many of the Silent Hill franchise’s iconic monsters in order to give new protagonist Travis Grady the fright-ride of his life. As with many of the Silent Hill games, you’ll switch between the regular world and its dark underbelly, solving puzzles and fending off enemies using a variety of (often breakable) weapons. Origins isn’t going to win any prizes for originality, but if you’re looking for a game to utterly terrify you on the PSP, this will more than do the job.
Hysteria Project 2
FMV games are much-maligned by the mainstream, but we can’t think of a reason why; although they may seem a little badly-acted and stiff at times, horror is a perfect fit for the FMV game, and that proves indeed to be the case in Hysteria Project 2, a rather underplayed little mobile gem that also found its way to PSP. It’s a first-person game in which the objective is to run away from an axe-wielding maniac who will carve you up as soon as he sees you. That’s a pretty solid objective, as you might imagine, and in order to achieve it, you can make decisions and solve puzzles in order to make your way through your environment. Hysteria Project 2 is no masterpiece, but it’s good fun.
Dead Head Fred
Critics lauded the game for its dark comedic elements and noir-themed undertones, though they noted flaws in its control mechanics and combat intricacies. In 2008, “Dead Head Fred” garnered the Writers Guild of America’s inaugural award for outstanding video game writing. It was subsequently released for the PlayStation Vita.
With several PSP horror titles available, we’ve listed some of the better options. Which will you opt to play?