Top 5 Horror Games that Don't Depend on Jumpscares

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Let's be honest for a second here. Jumpscares suck. They are pointless, shock values that literally appear out of nowhere to scare the daylights out of you. As a matter of fact, they're not even scary! Even if you place a cute, cuddly kitten or puppy, and use that as a jumpscare, people will still be scared because, well, it came out of nowhere. 

This is why I have no respect for games like Five Nights at Freddie's and Slenderman. They are nothing but cheap and awful jumpscares just for the sake of being jumpscares...

Like in Five Nights at Freddie's, where the evil animatronic robots are roving about and you have to keep track of them via surveillance cameras scattered about ... BOOM! One comes out of nowhere for a jumpscare. Or in Slenderman, where you're just walking around and BOOM! There's Slenderman just standing there... 

Games don't need to have jumpscares to be considered horror games! And sometimes, jumpscares are just cheesy, anyway. So here's a list that showcases some great horror games that don't use jumpscares to deliver their terror.

5. Silent Hill 2 

Creepy atmosphere, darkened buildings, foggy streets and nightmarish monstrosities. Welcome to Silent Hill! Though the franchise has seen better days, Silent Hill 2 is still a classic for many, many horror fans.

Saying Silent Hill 2 is haunting is a bit of an understatement: This title is especially unnerving because it follows a forlorn protagonist who journeys to Silent Hill to find his dead wife -- who visits him and brings him to this Hellscape. Needless to say, he encounters things from peoples' worst nightmares. Oh, and how can anyone forget about Pyramid Head? Hands down one of the most fear-inducing enemies from any game -- regardless of genre. 

I mean, just take a look at him! 

(Credit: K1ngofOldSkool)

4. DOOM

Considered to be the game that paved the way to modern first-person shooters, let's not forget that this classic FPS is also a horror game. To keep it short, DOOM is about a space marine fighting through hordes of demons after a teleportation device opens up a portal to hell -- on Mars! So not only is it scary enough you're battling hell-spawn, but you're doing it in SPACE!

Of course, the atmosphere is terrifying, creating a dreaded sense of isolation and loneliness. Just you and a horde of hell-spawns. Alone. In Space. Let that sink in ... 

3. Resident Evil 4

Considered by many to be the greatest Resident Evil title of all time, this one is yet another classic in the horror genre that gives you a good scare without any cheap tricks up its sleeves. 

The plot is simple: Leon Kennedy has to rescue the president's daughter and bring her safely home. But of course, that's not going to be as easy as it sounds.

Not only is there is a village of full of villagers straight out of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre trying to kill you, there's a giant castle full of possessed cult members and a mysterious island where things, well, get weird. 

Resident Evil 4 is all about atmosphere. You've seen chainsaw-wielding enemies and giants before, but this game becomes scarier the farther you progress through it -- and the creepy atmosphere just hangs over you like a fog, making everything worse.

Oh, and don't forget the Iron Maidens! Yeah, nothing says creepy like Medieval torture devices mating with faceless demons ...  

2. Bloodborne

Bloodborne isn't just an RPG: It can also be considered a horror game. And that is for a good reason. The game has 'horror' written all over it. The wretched beasts that roam the streets of a cursed city, the hideous, nightmarish bosses that you overcome to survive and of course, the creepy victorian landscape. 

Just take a look at the above image and judge for yourselves. Seriously, this isn't a land of cupcakes, rainbows and ponies! It's a haunting atmosphere that creeps into your bones and rests there! It's a place where the sun don't shine, and where ever-present danger lives in just about every corner.

Apart from the landscape, players need to be careful what items they use and what armors they wear in order to increase their survival rate... Yep. Bloodborne is a survival-horror game, one that takes inventory management to new, terrifying extremes.

An occasional dog might jump out of the bushes, or a villager might appear out of a corner to attack you, but they are just there to surprise you and don't act as agents of fear, really...the entire game handles that instead!

1. The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask

For those of you who have played this epic title, you know exactly why it's a horror game. For those who don't, allow me to explain.

You have three days to save the Earth before an enormous moon crashes into it, killing all life. Besides the fear of running out of time, there are classic Zelda monsters like Redeads, who still invoke fear in the hearts of those who play Majora's Mask to this day. 

As far as the world design goes, I am sure that when I say, "Ikana Valley," those of you who played the game know what I mean... if not, just take a look. It's enough to make you pretty darn scared: 

The Music Box House, located in Ikana Valley. It's surrounded by a bunch of creepy Gibdos.

On top of that, this game is considered to be the most haunting, depressing and scary Zelda game ever released. Why? Well, here are a few reasons:

  • One of its major themes is the five stages of grief. Denial, Bargaining, Anger, Depression and Acceptance. Check this video out for more info.
  • Link is mostly surrounded by characters that are either dead, that are dying, that are in depression or have suffered some kind of loss.
  • Majora's Mask itself isn't exactly the most festive mask to wear. Just look at the slide image!
  • It's also the home to BEN drowned, so there's that! 

On a side note, the only jumpscare that I can think of is when Link puts on a mask to transform into Fierce Deity, Deku Scrub, Goron, or Zora. However, that is expected as soon as the mask is put on, so you know it's coming up.

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There are many more horror games out there that can give a good scare without those terrible jumpscares. What are some of those games? Feel free to let us know down in the comments!

Published Nov. 21st 2016

Featured Contributor

Long time gamer (15 years+). Most favorite title is either Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time or Majora's Mask. Prefer single player games to multiplayer games. But occasionally play multiplayer games (though very rarely). Proud owner of N64 and Nintendo SNES.


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