It is known that the PS1 games are super scary. But how? Why PS1 games have an eerie atmosphere? If I had to give you one reason for that, I would say lack of technology.
Limited technology can only imperfectly mimic the real thing. Because of that PS1 games have that phenomenon called uncanny valley, which im gonna to talk about in a minute. PlayStation Classic is super old console with bad GPU, CPU, memory, soundboard, etc. Back then, developers were trying to create games with what they have, and that created things unforgettable.
SCARIEST PS1 GAMES < List.
For the limitations and couple other things I’m about the mention below, even the non-horror games feel scary on PS1. Some people even call PlayStation Classic a haunted console.
10 key reasons why PS1 games have eerie and scary atmosphere:
1. Blurry Graphics
Blurry graphics of PS1 puts you in an atmosphere almost like a fever dream. You feel like as if your character stuck in a nightmare realm.
Number of pixels are enough to see what’s happening, but not clearly. Your brain fills the blanks with imagination and your imagination can create scariest things.
Hardware limitations, lack of sharpening and anti-aliasing are to blame for that.
Many PS1 games were designed to be dark for a variety of reasons, but the primary one was again hardware limitations. Developers also often used darkness as a tool to hide the limitations.
Darkness in PS1 is scary because dark is actually dark in PS1 games. Brightness is low, and you can’t see anything. FOV is also another darkness factor, but I’ll get to that later.
That darkness creates an atmosphere of uncertainty and unpredictability which is unimaginable scary.
3. Uncanny Valley
PS1 characters resemble human, but they are far from being one with their square heads. This triggers the uncanny valley effect on the players. Man, there are many cursed ps1 games filled with bobbly square heads.
For those who don’t know, the uncanny valley effect refers to the phenomenon where a robot or computer-generated image that is almost, but not quite, human-like can create a sense of unease or revulsion in the viewer. This effect also applies to the early 3D games of PS1.
As if that is not enough, these characters literally shake all the time. All because limited PS1 hardware!
4. Field of View Range
FOV is just another aspect of why PS1 games have an eerie atmosphere. View and the FOV is super weird in PS1, you can’t even see your surroundings. Since you can’t see shit, you’re always thight.
Not being able to see wide area is one thing. The other thing about FOV is lack of distance. You can’t see distant stuff, they don’t render. This problem mostly it manifests itself as fog. Best example of this Silent Hill.
PS1 FOV makes you feel vulnerable and exposed. Fear of the unknown is terrifying brothers. Of course, it’s all due to hardware limitations.
5. Twitching Polygons
In most PS1 games, characters are literally shaking. That is because of the twitching polygons. Again, another hardware limitation.
All the uncanny valley looking characters also move in an unnatural jerky way. It just adds an unsettling atmosphere.
Also, some games use twitching polygon graphics on monsters to make them appear more terrifying. What can I say? That’s PS1 folks.
The level design and setting of course contribute to the eeriness. Since graphics are bad in PS1, developers had to focus on the setting in PS1 games.
As a result, we see many labyrinths, twisting corridors, and hidden rooms. That makes you feel disoriented, which is also a huge fear factor.
Another key point would be the emptiness. Old consoles can’t render lots of people. Therefore, we see many abandoned towns, forests, or underground facilities.
Seeing places that are supposed to be crowded empty gets you in an alarm state. Ever visited a school on the weekend? I did and it made me feel unease.
These games isolate the player character alone. Playing alone, without the support and companions feels both lonely and scary. PS1 can’t render you a town full of people, or even a squad… Another scary element because of the hardware limitations.
Just take Silent Hill for example, you’re controlling a character in the middle of nowhere, all alone! Where are all the people?
PlayStation classic uses 16-bit Sony SPU (Sound Processor Unit) which is operating at 44.1 kHz. Believe me, it sounds really bad.
In PS1 games, you hear a music and possibly tell what the instruments are supposed to be used. But they always sound off and fake like they can’t exist. Almost as if they are not of this world.
All in all, low quality sound adds to the overall unsettling atmosphere.
Also, horror games use sounds that are designed to create suspense and tension. So, it is natural.
Even the intro is scary as hell. That intro sound puts you in an alarming state even from the beginning.
There is something about the pitch-black screen coming up with full of echoes in the distance. You don’t believe me? Just listen to it carefully and tell me im wrong.
Of course, now it sounds like nostalgia to me. But back then, it was terrifying.
Most of us played PS1 games when we were child. Of course, a child can be easily scared compared to adults. Perhaps it is one of these reasons why we feel on edge playing PS1 games even now.
PS1 is the console of horror games after all. It had many iconic horror games such as Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Alone in the Dark, Parasite Eve, and more.
Because of the reasons above, PS1 games feels unnerving. That is why many indie developers creating horror games with PS1 graphic style. If you’re interested, check out my list of modern games with PS1 graphics. You’ll find plenty good horror games.
Anyway, thank you for reading this article! Leave a nice comment below, and I’ll see you soon.