10 Best Jump Scare Games
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.
Slender is one of those games that probably stayed popular a little too long if I’m honest, but before it wore out its welcome it was in spotlight for the right reasons. While very simple in concept, Slender managed to capture the horror community with a basic design that brought back the ever looming menace of the unknown. Tasked with collecting eight pages in the dark woods with only a flashlight to aid you, the player was constantly running from Slenderman himself, looking at whom would cause the screen to distort and after a short time, kill you. The music built up and the game increasingly got tense, proving it didn’t take a big budget to jump scare people for months on end, just good execution and going back to the basics of what makes a good jump scare game.
4. Alien Isolation
Alien Isolation deserves a place on this list if only for doing what people have failed to do for years now, deliver a good alien game. Instead of being another shooter or action title that removed all sense of fear with the use of powerful weaponry, Alien Isolation brought back the fear the original movie instilled inside the crew, literally for some victims, as they fought against an ever looming constant threat. Trapped in a space station with the aforementioned extra-terrestrial and host of other problems and threats, there’s finally a game that gives the same sense of dread that you’re being followed constantly and hunted without mercy. The Xenomorph sticks to your presence like a shadow, popping out when you least expect it and always where you least expect it, with only that iconic bing of the motion detector and your own senses to keep you alive, Alien Isolation keeps you on edge and never ready for the panic of its appearance.
SCP containment breach is a great little gem of weird and terrifying horror all wrapped up, or contained if you will, in a facility full of escaped horrors. I say horrors because the enemies in this game can range from sentient AI’s, objects that make you kill yourself if you stare at them too long, creatures that phase through walls at random and not to mention the creature that only moves when you don’t look at it, and you need to blink. There’s a lot of creativity in the weird goings on of SCP and all the crazy their universe inhabits, but all that appreciation goes out the window when you have to navigation this facility and survive all the terrible fates it has waiting for you. Be it the teleporting murder monsters or simply that entity that lives just out of the corner of your eye, SCP will have you jumping and yelping till the end, one way or another.
With an overwhelming popularity on release, this small jump scare game would go down as a classic in the years to come as we ran, hid and screamed our way through the most stereotypical of settings, a creepy mental asylum. While the horror mainly came from being hunted and chased throughout the building during your brilliant idea of an investigation, there were far more than enough jump scares within to help you remember exactly where your heart is located. The DLC only made things worse as you got a double dose of frights for an extended experience. Outlast came out at the time when horror felt like it was drying up in more recent years, and it deserves the welcome attention that it still receives.
1. Five Nights at Freddy’s
While I’ve never been a fan of the camera feed watching franchise, it’s hard to deny the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise a spot high on this list. The Five Nights at Freddy’s games themselves have always been rather simple, extensive story theories aside, as you play a security guard or cautious watcher of some variation trying not to be killed by nightmarish animatronics. Your only means of avoiding this however is to simple keep an eye on things, be it through camera feeds or minor movement controls, with shining some lights or controlling doors as your only defense. Given the nature of the gameplay this means you can only look at so many places at once, basically leaving you in permanent setup for a jump scare from the places you can’t look. The Five Nights at Freddy’s series is simple, but effective, and has somehow been able to stay relevant and scary even to this day. Like the games or not, it certainly cornered the jump scare market in a time when horror games needed a boost, even if it inspired far too many knock offs.