As technology continues to improve video games, so does our ability to become immersed in a game’s world. And with our increased immersion come heightened emotions—especially when it comes to fear! Even some of the older games we experienced can still impart fear on us if we are able to draw connections between ourselves and the game.
Jump scares are some of the easiest ways a game developer can scare their audience, as bringing something unexpected to light suddenly can jar us from whatever lull or focus we had obtained. Many of the best jump scare games today also have the best graphics, but all of these games have one thing in common: the ability to make us invest and connect to the game itself. If you are looking for a jump scare game to get you in the Halloween spirit, we have the perfect list for you!
10. Among the Sleep
- System: PS4, XBO, PC
- Publisher: Krillbite
- Developer: Krillbite
- Release Dates: May 29th, 2014
A game where you play as a toddler exploring nightmare-ish environments, Among the Sleep is full of plenty of puzzles to solve. Though the puzzles can be a bit more difficult at times, the real intrigue with this game is the way that it blends the feel of being a helpless toddler with an effective survival-horror scenario. Among the Sleep also boasts an interesting story, taking the player through a family home situation as seen through his imaginative eyes.
The different stages in the game offer plenty of opportunities for good jump scares, especially with the imaginative creepy environments. Helplessness in Among the Sleep is compounded by the fact that you have no way to fight off the monsters should they appear. As such, the game keeps its tension held throughout, forcing you into a panic the first few times you run into the nightmares that chase you. The overall creepy atmosphere of this game is great, though it can get a bit stale after a while.
9. SCP – Containment Breach
- System: PC
- Publisher: Joonas Rikkonen
- Developer: Curse.com
- Release Dates: April 15th, 2012
Randomly generated in a different series of hallways and rooms each time, SCP – Containment Breach is challenging for players each time! The game revolves around a group known as the SCP Foundation, an organization dedicated to containing different artifacts and creatures that pose a threat to the world. As a character forced into helping conduct experiments on these strange and deadly creatures, you must find a way to secure or avoid the escaped SCP projects when everything begins falling apart around you.
The jump scares in SCP – Containment Breach truly keep the tension of the game high, as you stay alert at all times to the possibility that you will encounter the deadly SCP-173, the main monster in the game. SCP-173 is basically rooted in the jump scare mechanic, as it is a creature that will run toward you only when you are not looking at it. And if you allow yourself to relax even briefly, you could leave yourself vulnerable to one of the many monsters lurking about… Of course, being a disposable guinea pig for the SCP Foundation, the only one worried about your survival is you.
8. Five Nights at Freddy’s
- System: PC, Android, iOS
- Publisher: Scott Cawthon
- Developer: Scott Cawthon
- Release Dates: August 8th, 2014
Five Nights at Freddy’s became a sensation overnight, quickly turning into its own franchise of games with an intricate backstory. You play as a night-time employee for the Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza chain, monitoring the cameras when the place is locked down for the evening. You can check the lights in the hallway and lock the doors to close yourself off from the frightening animatronics – but be warned, if the power runs out, you will be left stranded.
Stuck in a permanent sedentary position throughout the night, the player can only watch as the animatronics begin to move, slowly encircling you in your tiny room each night. The creatures only move when you are not looking at them, suddenly appearing in front of various cameras around the establishment. Of course, it only gets creepier as you continue your work, listening to the dwindling phone messages left from the previous employee and realizing the terrifying truth behind Five Nights at Freddy’s…
7. Dead Space
- System: PS3, XB360, PC
- Publisher: Electronic Arts
- Developer: Electronic Arts
- Release Dates: October 13th, 2008
If any game deserves to be called truly disturbing and horrific in nature, Dead Space certainly does! The player is Isaac Clarke, the lone survivor aboard a mining spaceship whose crew has been slaughtered and reanimated as “Necromorphs.” Being the ship’s engineer, Isaac is able to move about repairing various parts of the ship to get it moving again. But will he be able to avoid the deadly corpses now lurking about?
Dead Space was an excellent game for its time, though it can look a bit dated now. The detail put into this game allowed it to be the terrifying tale it turned out to be, as bloody corpses reach out to maul you at every turn. It became a success because of the threatening and tense environment that filled players with fear, even as they became engrossed in the outcome of the story.
6. Amnesia: The Dark Descent
- System: PS4, XBO, PC
- Publisher: Frictional Games
- Developer: Frictional Games
- Release Dates: September 8th, 2010
Are you prepared to travel to the brink of sanity, or will you find yourself unable to pull back from the edge? Amnesia: The Dark Descent deals with the invisible aspect of the mind through the eyes of Daniel, a man exploring the shadows of an unknown castle even as he tries to navigate the shadows of his own forgotten memories. This game is interesting in the way it unravels the story along the way, even as monsters begin to appear more frequently—and more dangerous.
As Daniel explores and collects notes that add up the pieces of his memories, the atmosphere of the castle gets darker and creepier. Amnesia: The Dark Descent touches on some of the worst fears, like forgetting everything all at once and being chased by unknown, terrifying creatures through an unknown castle! This game is definitely terrifying in its own way, with plenty of jump scares from both monsters and scenes throughout its course.
5. Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly
- System: PS2, Xbox, PS3
- Publisher: Tecmo, Koei Tecmo
- Developer: Tecmo, Nintendo, Ubisoft, Microsoft Studios, Sony Interactive Entertainment
- Release Dates: November 27th, 2003
Fatal Frame II is the story of twin sisters Mio and Mayu Amakura, who discover a haunted village while wandering one day. Mio and Mayu struggle to stay together, but the remnants of an ancient, demonic tradition in the village threaten to tear them apart for good… A good majority of the game is spent looking through a camera lens, adding to the prevalence of jump scares by limiting your vision of the ghosts even more!
Fatal Frame II has plenty of jump scares, though it can be a little repetitive at times with all the running back and forth you will find yourself doing. Depending on how you play out the game, there are different endings that can befall Mio and Mayu. The ghosts and ancient demons in this village are set on reigniting the ritual of the past, and these two twins are the perfect pair for that! And without her camera to defend herself at certain times, the players will feel just as helpless as Mio as she navigates through the village alone in an effort to save her sister and herself.
4. Silent Hill 2
- System: PS2, PS3, Xbox, XB360, PC
- Publisher: Konami, Team Silent, Creature Labs
- Developer: Konami
- Release Dates: September 24th, 2001
James Sunderland arrives in the town of Silent Hill after having received a letter from his wife Mary, who has been thought to be dead for three years. Mary claims that she is waiting in a “special place” for him, allowing James to hope that she might be alive after all this time. Of course, he finds that Silent Hill has become a desolate and haunting place, full of strange humanoid creatures that roam the streets in place of its citizens.
As James encounters various deadly monsters and the few people left in Silent Hill, he will go through plenty of harrowing experiences in his attempt to get his wife back. While the people he meets along the way can provide him with valuable clues to where Mary might be, James also finds that they bring quite a bit of mental torture to his strained mind. Silent Hill 2 is a realistically terrifying game, with plenty of jump scares to add to the tense environment. Yet, as we learn, much of the game is all about playing psychological tricks with James’ mind as he remembers pieces of his past. As evidenced by the terrors that his soul has brought about, these memories are not always good ones…
- System: PS4, XBO, Nintendo Switch, PC
- Publisher: Red Barrels
- Developer: Red Barrels
- Release Dates: September 4th, 2013
One of the most popular horror games, Outlast puts you in a deteriorating psychiatric asylum in the middle of nowhere, right when it all goes horribly wrong. The player traverses this dangerous environment as investigative journalist Miles Upshur, who was coming to look into the inhumane experiments being performed at the hospital and finds himself trapped inside. Miles uncovers the truth behind the horrible events as a being known as the “Walrider,” a created malevolent being that has been attacking both doctors and patients in its destructive path.
A combination of bloody survival and terrifying supernatural horror, Outlast has left its mark on horror games forever. The jump scares in this game are entirely unpredictable, and with plenty of insane patients on the loose, the tension never dies down from start to finish!
2. Alien: Isolation
- System: PS4, XBO, PS3, XB360, PC
- Publisher: Creative Assembly, Feral Interactive
- Developer: Sega, Feral Interactive
- Release Dates: October 7th, 2014
For those of you who enjoy the Alien franchise, Alien: Isolation is a faithful addition to the series, adding a terrifying first-person horror experience to the plethora of stories! Most of the game sees you running around a spaceship laid waste by the alien on board, as you run and hide from the monster traveling through the vents. Amanda Ripley, the protagonist, must find a way to end this nightmare and free herself from the alien, the murderous androids and her violent crewmates.
Alien: Isolation captures all the terror of the Alien films and puts it even closer to home, with players having to control a character fleeing from the deadly threat. From start to finish, this game is full of true terror and plenty of unexpected jump scares, with the player never knowing what might go wrong next!
1. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard in VR
- System: PS4, XBO, Nintendo Switch, PC
- Publisher: Capcom
- Developer: Capcom
- Release Dates: January 24th, 2017
If you’re looking for the most intense kind of jump scares, playing through Resident Evil 7 in VR is the best way to induce a heart attack! Players act as the protagonist Ethan Winters, a man searching for his missing wife in a decrepit plantation. Ethan soon discovers that his wife was caring for a dangerous little girl called Eveline, whose drive to have a family caused her to infect both Mia and the Baker family who own the plantation. With plenty of action and puzzles to solve, Resident Evil 7 is a good mix of everything, culminating in a terrifying experience.
Resident Evil 7 has made a huge push for VR games, being one of the most popular and well-done VR horror games to date. The detail in this game is phenomenal, allowing players to really be immersed in every disturbing aspect of it all. If you are planning on playing this game at all, be sure to play it in VR format – if you enjoy horror and jump scares, it really is worth it!
If you’re looking for a great horror game with jump scares to get you in the Halloween spirit, look no further than the terrifying games on our list! With great stories to draw people into the game, these games have some of the most heart-pounding scares around. But be warned; you may be sleeping with the lights on after playing them!
Have you played through any of the horror games on our list? Which one is your favorite? Let us know of any other great jump-scare games we might have missed in the comments!