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.