Low res, low poly, PS1 and N64-style games are growing in popularity, and we’ve compiled a list of some of the best on the market and on the edge of release!
Over the past few years the low poly-style has grown in popularity as nostalgia for older-looking games takes over. In the mid 90’s and early 2000s, we loved the lofi blocky-graphics of these games, and thought they looked amazing. As time went on, we realized that our imaginations might have been doing the heavy lifting.
Still, returning to these games now, there’s so much charm and appeal in them. Just like with pixel graphics, there’s an artistry to getting a lot out of a limited medium. And these new low poly games evoke a special kind of near-nostalgia that makes you feel like you’ve played them before, even if you’ve never touched them.
So bust out the USB PSX controller, boot up a CRT monitor, and enjoy our list of the best retro, PS1/PSX-style and low poly games to play now and in 2023!
PSX and low poly-style games
Street Uni X
Street Uni X is a retro style extreme sports game in the same vein as the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX — except with unicycles. This insane game has seen a crazy lofi VHS-style trailer and grow from something of a meme into a fully fledged game that’s set to release in 2023. Wishlist it now on Steam.
Brutal Chase Turbo
A game that jumped out of an imaginary arcade cabinet and onto our PCs, Gamer Bear’s Brutal Chase Turbo has the kind of low poly buildings and 2.5D trees that we’d expect from Sega Rally Championship. This game combines the classic feel of those 90’s driving games with a gameplay loop similar to Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit. It doesn’t currently have a release date, so keep your eyes peeled.
Another game that started off as a meme and a viral video, Bloodborne PSX evolved into a fully fledged remake of the classic FromSoft game. This game was so convincing and authentic, that one of the top search results on Google still asks whether Bloodborne really was on the PS1. You can pick it up completely for free at Itch.io, but supporting the creator is appreciated. And what’s more, the developer is currently working on the hilarious looking Bloodborne Kart!
The Sirena Expedition
The Sirena Expedition is a short PSX-style horror game that puts you in the role of a diver in a mysterious underwater location. The demo is available to play for free on Steam and the full version is listed as “Coming soon.” However, the atmosphere of this fun, claustrophobic little platformer can’t be beat, and must be experienced.
Haunted PS1 Demo Disk
If you haven’t already, the Haunted PS1 Demo Disk is a must-follow on Twitter. This collective have produced some incredible compilations of horror games in the PSX/low rez game style. All of their games are available from ich.io, and there’s a mix of demos, full games, and other fun in the collections. Honestly, if you're a fan of Resident Evil, Silent Hill, or any lofi horror game from that era, you have to check these out.
By the creator of Iron Lung, another PSX style horror game, Chop Goblins is a light-hearted but gory boomer shooter romp through a Build Engine-inspired world. The titular Chop Goblins are both menacing and adorable, and it’s satisfying to just murder them wholesale. There’s a lot of 3d retro shooters on the market these days, but this is one of the most charming and interesting.
Ultrakill is an ultraviolet FPS that takes inspiration from Doom and Quake and turns it into something far gorier and over-the-top. With a mechanic that needs you to use the blood of your enemies as fuel and health, the game forces your to dispatch foes in explosions of gore and gibs. This feels like the kind of game that people imagine when they try and accuse video games of making people violent.
Another from the creator of Iron Lung and Chop Goblins, Dusk is horror-themed Quake-like that tilts fully into the horror and darkness the 90’s shooters, instead of the more sci-fi elements that become more prominent in reality. There’s a streak of American gothic stylings in this game that make it so appealing, and it never once compromises on its stylistic roots. It’s blocky, pointy, and dark.
Tiny Combat Arena
Published by MicroProse, Tiny Combat Arena feels like the storied publisher reached back into its vault and pulled out a game from 1992, not 2022 (in a good way, of course). Fly jets and helicopters, drive tanks, and take part in fully realized military operations with mechanics and controls that are as tight as the most advanced flight simulator. A game that really shows how core gameplay trumps graphics every time.
Frogun is a low poly 3d shooter and platformer that's feels like a cute spin off from Megaman Legends. With an adorable art style, some integrated multiplayer and just generally a really solid set of mechanics and gameplay, this game definitely feels like a lost PS1 classic waiting to be rediscovered!
Cruelty Squad is a body-horror-themed boomer shooter that describes itself as “an immersive power fantasy.” The result is a hyper colorful game with a kind of bizarre ugliness that verges on the psychedelic at times. A confusing and interesting game that might be commenting on post humanism and the degradation of society. Or it might just be letting you have fun blowing people’s heads off with a Magnum pistol. We don’t know.
Compound is a low poly VR retro shooter that feels like an early test of the tech from the 2000s, but plays like a slick, modern game. There’s a lot of care taken with the models in this game that makes them both true to the style, but not confusing and difficult on the eyes for VR users. It’s also a great proof of concept that realistic graphics are definitely not needed, even in VR. A wonderfully unique entry into the subgenre.
Hypnagogia 無限の夢 Boundless Dreams
LSD: Dream Emulator was a 1998 exploration game that released on Playstation. It was a unique concept that wasn’t really explored again until the birth of the Walking Simulator genre in the late 2000s. Hypnagogia 無限の夢 Boundless Dreams seems to have taken this concept and run with it. However, this is ironically a far more realized and accessible concept than its inspiration. It comes with a demo and full version on Steam.
Super Kiwi 64
The N64 collectathon game seems like a lost genre. While newer entries like Yooka-Laylee tried to replicate the feel, they miss out on the charm and appeal. That’s where Super Kiwi 64 comes in. If we found this game on an N64 cartridge in a gaming store bargain bin, we wouldn’t bat an eyelid. A faithful reconstruction of some of the console’s classics.
Knight’s Try is a painfully frustrating platformer that sees you take on the role of a low poly knight who must dodge traps, perilous jumps, and deadly skeletons to make it to the end. This game really captures that brutal PSX difficulty that some games had out of nowhere. It sometimes feels like Jump King in 3D, if such a devilish game could ever exist!
Have a N.I.C.E day!
Have a N.I.C.E day! Is a low poly vehicular combat game that reminds of 1997’s Interstate '76 by Activision. However, this, and its sequel, N.I.C.E 2 are a far smoother experience, with a modern engine. There’s also World Racing 2 - Champion Edition which is coupled together in the ULTIMATE WORLD RACING bundle to form a perfect mix of classic-style driving game.
Another entry inspired by an N64 classic, Valkie 64 is designed to mimic the adventure game classics such as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. But what Valkie 64 does is add a host of new features such as a more robust combat system to the more classic design.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg for low poly and PSX style games. And the sub genres, such as low poly and PSX horror, boomer shooters, and a host of 2.5D games that we didn’t even mention mean that if you’re looking for retro-style games, you’re spoilt for choice.
With the viral success of the aforementioned Bloodborne PSX, and even popular YouTubers like Harry Partridge getting in on the action with his recent Resident Evil tribute and parody, GHOSTBLEED: The Bio Horror (ゴーストブリード), it seems like the style is only only going to grow in popularity. And that’s great news for those who grew up in the 90’s, or just love the aesthetic.