Jump scare games, sometimes they excite thrill us, sometimes they just annoy us. Regardless of which side you fall on when it comes to their enjoyment, you can’t deny that jump scares can work wonders to elevate a tense scary scene, or forever scar our memories about that one time. Jump Scare Games have long been a staple to the horror genre, even if they sometimes get overplayed. Here’s the ten best jump scare games that took jump scares to a new level and used them a tool to both take their fear to a new level, and leave us reeling while they were at it.
10. Resident Evil
Despite feeling more like an action series than a horror in the past few iterations, it’s hard to leave old Resident Evil off the list when it alone was such an inspiration to the jump scare genre. Some of the best original jump scare games came from the old horror franchise, the dogs jumping through the mansion windows, the hands smashing through the barricades, bosses appearing before you out of nowhere. The whole Resident Evil series tends to have great moments each time, and it wouldn’t be fair to single out any one game, but the series certainly has something for every horror fan out there. Plus, the new Resident Evil game looks far damn scarier than it’s been in years, so things are looking up for the return to the heart attack spotlight.
9. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
More about the atmosphere and encroaching horror than purely jump scares, Amnesia the Dark Descent definitely still has its moments. In a game where darkness and fear slowly drive your character insane, horror is not only the state of Amnesia but a mechanic to manage. It doesn’t help you as a player when that same horror is scaring you half to death as you try to keep some other poor sod alive. The monsters seemed to appear from nowhere, the puzzles seem to put your back to a wall as they approached and the only means of survive was to run and hide. Couple that with an almost Lovecraftian atmosphere and creepy old mansion where the smallest noise tended to elevate you from your chair and you’ve got a winning formula for some scares. I don’t think we’ll ever forget that damn water monster.
8. Layers of Fear
Tasked with exploring the house of a broken man, a painter with serious artist block, Layers of Fear takes players on a trip through the dark history of ruined family, while trying to complete the last masterpiece of the man’s wife. It may sound cheery on the surface, but Layers will take you down the rabbit hole of a twisted family life in an equally, and sometimes literally, warped mansion where it all went down. From jump scares to intense tones, the house itself feels alive as it twists around you and changes the very environment you try to escape from, and when you can’t even rely on your senses, you’re left open to sudden scares and frights without any logical safeguards.
7. Dead Space
While I personally don’t think of Dead Space as a strong contender for the horror genre, as the games became more and more action focused as the franchised evolved. Yet I won’t deny that many years ago the original Dead Space game certainly jumped scared the life out of younger me. For such an action heavy title even the first time around, jump scares and atmosphere take up the majority of where the horror stems from in the series, and it still makes a strong contender for the list even today. Dead Space was smart enough to get in the scary before it’s combat, and they did so to pretty good effect across the series.
6. Fatal Frame
Fatal Frame (also known as Project Zero) is a classic staple of the old photography horror genre. Ok it’s really one of the only games like that off the top of my head, but its unique feel, gameplay with photography based combat certainly make for some interesting titles in the series. On top of controls that feel akin to the old Resident Evil movement, you have to take time to stop and take photos of your enemies in order to… I don’t know, capture their souls or something. It’s a strange jump scare game. Seeking out and hunting down ghosts isn’t the happy adventure it seems on paper however, and their ability to be all non-corporal and phase through solid objects gives them a slight advantage when it comes to coming out of nowhere to grab you or get that blood pumping. If you want some good old fashioned Japanese jump scares, the Fatal Frame (Project Zero) series has you covered.