The average player will know to be wary when the music drops and your measured footsteps become audible in a horror game. Left to your own devices, everything becomes a threat. The reason for our trust issues in these situations comes down to the age-old jump scare. The jolt we all know is coming but yet are powerless to style out. So here are, in my opinion, the five most terrifying jumpscares in video game history.
Outlast – The Swinging Screamer
Outlast has been launched into popularity thanks to the countless YouTubers who monetised its insane atmosphere, terrifying antagonists, and relatively short length. Investigating a creepy facility with only the night vision from your camera, Outlast‘s terror is built around the unseen – as any good game is. So when you’ve had a close encounter at the beginning of the game, and made your escape, the music drops in a corridor you see has been blocked off. But don’t be fooled, this is no puzzle section to fill some game time between the gore. When you’re at your most chill, opening a door that sees you onward, a blood soaked hanging body greets you with a scream. It’s a combination of shock and fight or flight, considering the beast you just glimpsed from your ceiling vent. It’s the beginning of the game, you don’t really know what you’re up against – you just know you want to kill whatever is up in your grill right now.
Silent Hill – Curiosity Killed The Cat
Locker rooms were always terrifying. Silent Hill took it to a new level in this brief moment of respite of the first game. On your first visit, you’ll hear frantic banging from one suspicious locker. You think you know what’s coming, but games like Silent Hill are built on intrigue, so you steady yourself, squint your eyes, grit your teeth and open the door. Out jumps a little kitty who scurries off, oblivious. The beauty of this scene is in the horrific imaginings of the mind conjured in those few silent seconds. What’s even more beautiful is the second time you enter the locker room. Faced with the same banging, you grow cocky and swagger over to let the kitty out… only to be faced with a bloodied locker and a falling corpse as you stumble away. The old bait and switch.
Condemned: Criminal Origins – Overbearing Shop Assistants
Mannequins are downright creepy, and as such are regularly used in downright creepy games. One of their best employments was in a desolate department store in Condemned: Criminal Origins. Though not technically a jumpscare in the way we know them, the sightings of these mannequins shock with every turn and build an insanely psychological pressure on your every move. Originally sighted peering over a mysterious hole, once you turn around the screen fuzzes and a blaring screech can be heard behind you. Turn once again to see them blocking your escape route and forcing you onwards into the oblivion. This happens repeatedly and they steadily gain on you. It’s a truly shocking experience and one that repeats with every turn and screech.
Resident Evil – Pup Power
Well Dobermans aren’t really pups but still. A pack of wild, savage dogs have just chased you to a deserted mansion and you just know they’re outside stalking your every move. This knowledge makes this massive canine’s sudden crashing through a nearby window all the more terrifying, and proves that some jumps are best when you’re kind of expecting them in the back of your mind.
Sophie’s Curse – Random Acts of Terror
Some question Sophie’s Curse‘s use of the jumpscare. Though it can be argued that these randomly generated jolts from a terrifying demon child demonstrate less technical prowess than the atmosphere and mind games developed in other titles, they do a good job of creating their own form of atmosphere. Because of the constant threat of being jumped by a really pissed off spirit, everything is tense in this horror experience. No moment is safe, and no heart attack is too far off.