Warning: Some graphic content ahead.
What's better than sitting down and getting scared by a good horror movie? Playing a good scary video game. There's nothing better than having the control of your character as they stumble through a haunted mansion, rounding a corner only to be grabbed and dragged away by some terrifying entity. Let's take a moment to step back and revisit some of these great jump scare moments in video games, in no particular order.
1. The Evil Within — The Painting Is Alive!
The Evil Within was a terrifying game from horror master Shinji Mikami, director of the original Resident Evil game and the sequel Resident Evil 4. The Evil Within was a critical and commercial hit, with reviewers praising the game's visual imagery and horror elements. This specific moment comes near the middle of the game, when the player wakes in the asylum and is led by the nurse to a painting of the young villain, and as players hold down the action button, Ruvik suddenly appears in the hole on the painting, sending the world around the player into chaos.
The setup is definitely very formulaic — seen in countless horror movies — but it works well due to the quick jump of Ruvik, the music, and the sudden change in the world around the player. Here's a look at the scare, as well as some other gameplay (fast forward to 2:45):
2. Alien: Isolation — It's Inking In My Mouth!
We all remember that scene from every Alien movie. That dreaded spider-looking Facehugger pounces on a poor victim's face and lays an egg inside of them, effectively killing the person in order to give birth to a Xenomorph. Alien: Isolation took this idea and turned it into a terrifying challenge to overcome in the game. As you control young Amanda Ripley — daughter of famous heroine Ellen Ripley — roaming around the space station Sevastapol, you come across one of your cohorts killed by a Facehugger. Shortly after you traverse farther into the station, you slowly come upon more and more of the creatures.
The most terrifying and truly solid jump is the death sequence when a Facehugger grabs you. If you're not looking at the ground, one may sneak up on you and suddenly attach to your face, causing a big scare and sending players — at least me — jumping out of their chair at the sight. Here's a collection of what the scare looks like:
3. Outlast - This Is A Library, Not A Jungle Gym
If you ask anyone what game truly revived the horror genre in the last few years, most of them would say Outlast. Players control Miles Upshur, a freelance investigative journalist who goes into an asylum to expose it for its unethical and dehumanizing experiments on patients. The game blended an excellent atmosphere of action and horror to deliver a thrilling story.
One of the best moments actually comes early in the game. After getting into the asylum through a broken window, players walk toward the library and as they open the door, a dead body shocks them by dangling from a hanging lamp. With the loud musical cue, it's quite the scare. Here's the moment:
4. P.T. — Personal Space, Personal Spaaaacee!!
P.T. was the most talked-about demo at its time of release, drawing a lot of intrigue for its complex story as well as major praise for its tension-building visuals and groundbreaking jump scares. The demo was a teaser for a future installment in the Silent Hill franchise that would star Norman Reedus and be directed by Guillermo del Toro, but after it was cancelled, even the demo became unavailable for download.
Of all the terrifying moments in the demo — and trust me, there are quite a few — the biggest scare comes when players try to solve a puzzle as the radio lists off some numbers, and a malevolent female entity suddenly grabs the player from behind and attacks, ending with the player's neck being broken. Here's a collection of some of the best jump scares in the demo, as well as proof that there's no shame in getting spooked:
5. Five Nights at Freddy's — I Don't Want To Play!
Five Nights at Freddy's was another game many credit for the successful revival of the horror video game genre thanks to its dark atmosphere, challenging gameplay and terrifying jump scares. Players control a night security guard at the Chuck-E-Cheese-esque Freddy Fazbear's Pizza as he starts his new job at the restaurant, only to discover the animatronic characters around the restaurant are alive and homicidal. You must survive the night until 6 a.m. when your shift ends by keeping track of the animals around the restaurant through security cameras, sound systems and open doors.
For this game, there's not one specific jump scare to note, as every death that occurs in the game is quite terrifying in of itself. Here's a collection of some of the scarier moments in the game, as well as popular YouTuber Markiplier's terrified reactions to go with them:
6. Condemned: Criminal Origins — Teacher, There's A Body In My Locker!
Condemned: Criminal Origins is an underrated horror game that was actually quite a surprising treat. It delivered an intriguing story, some terrifyingly dark atmospheres and settings, as well as some truly solid scares. Players control FBI Agent Ethan Thomas as he searches for a mysterious serial killer that has framed him for murder. Thomas makes his way through dark and seedy parts of town — and many condemned buildings — to solve various murders and find the killer.
As he makes his way through an abandoned high school locker room, he finds a dead body stuck in one of the lockers. As he tries to take a photo of the dead body, it suddenly bursts to life and grabs the player. Here's the jarring moment:
What's your favorite video game jump scare? Did they make this list? What's your favorite horror game?