8 of the Best Jump Scares in Horror Gaming

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The survival horror genre is a popular one amongst gamers. Apparently, there are a lot of us out there that just love to scare ourselves silly!

But what makes a great horror game?

A typical recipe for games wanting to induce fear in the player will include things like dim lighting, chilling music, and sound effects, and gruesome antagonists, all combining to provide a creepy atmosphere that leaves you on the edge of your seat.

As the years have gone on, and graphics have continued to improve with changing technology, the fright factor has increased, with more and more extreme visuals and themes appearing in horror games. The ghosts, zombies and other beasties and apparitions at the core of these games today can leave a lasting impression in the nightmare department.

But one thing that has been a constant throughout the genre, no matter the age or quality of the games' graphics, is the jump scare. A timeless technique employed in both the movie and gaming industry, this classic tactic will never fail to leave your heart racing and your spine tingling. 

Here, we take a look back at just a handful of the more memorable jump scares that have left us chilled to our core over the years...

8) Outlast - Hanging Body

We kick off our countdown with indie survival horror Outlast. In the game, you play as a freelance investigative journalist, Miles Upshur, who is investigating an asylum tucked away deep in the mountains of Colorado.

Armed with a camcorder and nothing more, your aim is to document the horrors taking place in the asylum, which has been overrun with homicidal patients. 

Knowing you have just a camera and some parkour-type moves to get you through the game, you're kept on the edge of your seat throughout. But one thing that guarantees you'll be on the alert from the start is that the jump scares begin almost immediately. 

The clip below, from YouTube user Deadwax, is the first jump scare of the game. As you enter a room, you are unexpectedly greeted by a dead body swinging towards you from the ceiling. This moment lets you know from the get-go that Outlast won't mess about. 

7) Fatal Frame - Ghostly Man Behind the Door

The Fatal Frame series is one of my personal favorites when it comes to survival horror games. The games have a uniqueness to them that make them a delight to play, and they really do continually scare your socks off!

The first installment in the series is set in the abandoned Himuro Mansion in 1980s Japan. You play as Miku, on the search for her brother who has recently gone missing at the mansion. You are armed only with the Camera Obscura - an antique camera that can be used to fight off and capture ghosts.

The game's atmosphere is rather creepy, as you never know when or where ghosts are going to appear, or how violent they may become upon seeing you. 

In the clip below, YouTube gamer TrueGameMage illustrates just how suddenly the spirits in this game can take you by surprise, and it really does leave you with a racing heart every time!


Watch from 1:50 for the specific jump scare

 

6) Five Nights at Freddy's - Freddy Jumps Up

Five Nights at Freddy's is a relatively short game with a simple concept - work a night shift as a security guard for a pizza restaurant, and try not to get killed in the process.

The game, developed by Scott Cawthon, became an instant sensation on its release and has spawned numerous sequels and spin-offs in the two years since. The series still has a large cult following online today, and fans are waiting in hope of a new game this October.

FNAF is a simple point-and-click game, but it still has a high fear factor, as you are left with rising panic as the nights go on. Unable to move from your spot, you can only click through the security cameras to keep an eye on the various deadly animatronics that lurk about the place, and hope that they don't make it to the office you occupy.

In this clip, YouTube user Smike is working his way through Night 4, when animatronic Freddy seems to appear out of nowhere, as he is wont to do.


Watch from 15:00 for the specific jump scare

5) Dementium: The Ward - Screeching Banshees

Dementium stood out as a rather unique game for the DS when it was released, as it was the first fully 3D, first-person survival horror to be released on that platform. As it turns out, it works surprisingly well.

You start the game knowing very little about what you may encounter. You wake up alone in a dimly lit room within a run-down asylum, with no knowledge of who you are or how you came to be there. 

Upon exploring the asylum, you come across various mutants, the result of surgical experiments performed on the hospital's patients. With limited weapons and ammunition scavenged from around the darkened asylum as you explore, the game's atmosphere leaves you feeling claustrophobic and increasingly on edge.

In one of Dementium's more surprising jump scares, you find yourself entering a seemingly empty corridor, only to be confronted with what appear to be FLYING CLOWN HEADS. The stuff of nightmares, right? And just in case the image isn't bad enough, the noise they make is terrifying.

4) F.E.A.R. - Alma Appears on the Ladder

The appropriately titled F.E.A.R. is an FPS survival horror in which you play as the First Encounter Assault Recon's Point Man. Your team has been sent in to contain the area where supernatural phenomena of the deadly variety have been taking place.

The horror style used in this game is heavily inspired by Japanese horror movies, both visually and audibly. There is a lot of silence used throughout, which, when paired with the other aspects of the game's creepy atmosphere, allows the player's imagination to run wild, creating your own anxiety and fear.

The main antagonist in F.E.A.R., Alma Wade, most often presents herself in the form of a little girl (and as we all know, creepy little girls are always a hit in the horror genre!). She's often spotted in your peripheral vision, walking by as though she was there all along, but sometimes she gets a bit more daring.

In one of the most memorable moments from this game, Alma appears out of thin air right in front of you as you reach the top of a ladder, with her eerie giggle sending a chill down your spine, just in case suddenly seeing her wasn't scary enough.

3) P.T. (Silent Hills) - Lisa Attacks

Known simply as P.T. at the time of its release on the PlayStation Store, this free playable teaser for (the eventually canceled) Silent Hills game was an interesting and unique psychological survival horror.

As the mystery protagonist, you find yourself in a corridor which you must explore (and which you soon realize is endless, as you are caught in some kind of never-ending loop).

The key is to work your way through the game until the moment a phone starts to ring. Once this has been triggered, you are released from the hallway and are rewarded with the trailer for Silent Hills.

The objective isn't as simple as it sounds. You have no combat skills, and must investigate various frightening situations and solve challenging puzzles. The corridor will continue to change around you each time you complete a loop of it, and this can go on for hours, adding to the desperation you already feel.

One scary aspect of P.T. that keeps you on your toes is the hostile spirit Lisa, whom you encounter numerous times throughout the game. However, it's the moment she attacks you suddenly if you let her get too close that really takes you by surprise, and provides one of the most terrifying jump scares on this list.

2) Resident Evil 2 - Interrogation Room Licker

This well-known video game series has been going on for years, but it's actually one of the earliest games in the franchise that provides some of the best jump scares out there.

Raccoon City is overrun with zombies following the outbreak of the T-Virus - a bio weapon developed by the evil Umbrella Corporation. 

You get to play as both Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield in this outing, which has the classic Resident Evil formula - exploring, solving puzzles, and kicking zombie ass. 

In one of the most unforgettable jump scares of the entire Resident Evil series, you find yourself in a rare quiet moment, collecting necessary items in the police department's interrogation room. Before you know it, one of the 'Licker' creatures comes crashing through the two-way mirror just as you walk by.

This continues to make me jump out of my skin during replays to this day!


Watch from 2:58 for the specific jump scare

1) Fatal Frame - Broken Neck Ghost

That's right - Fatal Frame is so good at genuinely frightening jump scares, it gets two mentions in this list! And this particular ghost from the first game in the series is well-deserving of the number one spot.

This infamous jump scare is just one of the encounters you'll have with this angry ghost in Fatal FrameBroken Neck is undoubtedly the most well-known (and perhaps worst-feared) ghost in the series. She's near-impossible to get rid of and crops up in the game time and time again.

As you make your way through the beautiful Himuro Mansion, be sure not to get too distracted - one moment, all is calm and relatively quiet; the next, you find yourself face-to-face with the terrifying Broken Neck ghost - and she has no regards for personal space.

It's been over a decade since I first played this game, but I can still remember my first encounter with Broken Neck (and the accompanying near heart attack!) clear as day, along with the reactions of everyone in the room at the time. As you can see from the clip below, even those not engrossed in playing the game can't help but scream when she appears from nowhere.

And let's not forget, Fatal Frame is supposedly based on a true story... Sweet dreams, horror fans!

Did your favorite jump scare make it to the list? Let us know in the comments which heart-stopping moments you'll never forget from your favorite horror games!

Published Aug. 26th 2016

Contributor

Stay-at-home geeky mama that's been gaming since early childhood! I wanted to be Lara Croft when I grew up, but writing about video games seemed a little more realistic ;) I love action/adventure and horror games especially, and have a fondness for scouting out indie developers to see what treasures they have to offer the gaming world.


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