The 10 best jumpscares in horror games

Spoiler: knowing about these jumpscares beforehand won’t prevent you from peeing your pants when you play the games they’re in.

Resident Evil 3: A close-up of Nemesis from the original 1999 version of the game.

Horror lovers love the constant dread provided by horror games, but we all know nothing beats an expertly crafted jumpscare.

Let’s see if our readers can handle witnessing 10 of the best jumpscares in the history of gaming in one sitting.

Zombie dogs jumping through the window in Resident Evil and REmake

Even with its messy writing and voice acting, the original Resident Evil does a great job of reminding players they’re in constant danger.

We get some relief right at the beginning of the original Resident Evil when the S.T.A.R.S. team makes it into the mansion and locks the dogs on the outside, but we later learn it’s but a ruse. Those goddamn zombie dogs somehow find the energy to jump through windows and get to us. This is one of the earliest — and still best — jumpscares in the history of gaming.

Nemesis also jumping through a window in Resident Evil 3

Nemesis is, in my opinion, the scariest monster in the history of Resident Evil. Capcom seemingly used actual Pavlovian psychology in an attempt to scare players even further than they did in previous games in the series, and I think they absolutely nailed it.

Nemesis has his greatest ever moment when he jumps through the window in the police precinct straight at players. This might be the best jumpscare in the series, as it’s a better-directed version of the already amazing dog scare from the original game.

The dog in SIlent Hill
Screenshot by Destructoid

Silent Hill’s “abandoned” dog house

No, I’m not talking about the adorable dog from the ending of Silent Hill 2. It’s about the one from this segment in the original Silent Hill.

The image above naturally became a meme, but for the people who were unlucky enough to experience that event through playing the game, and not via a harmless still frame coming from someone else’s playthrough, it also became a grueling memory.

This is the video game equivalent of one of those cursed photos taken right before tragedy strikes.

Zombies using doors in Resident Evil 2

The door-opening animation was one of the staples of the Resident Evil series, as well as one of the most iconic loading screens in gaming.

The series took its sweet time, around one game and a half, making you believe that you got to safely catch your breath while you witnessed the main characters opening doors. You know what I’m talking about. The player’s point of view closes in on the door, the handle moves, the door opens, and we find ourselves in a different room.

Resident Evil 2 spiced things up and, while we’re opening one of the many doors in the game (I won’t say which), we get greeted by zombies rushing at us from the other side. What an amazing subversion of expectations.

All of P.T. but mostly Lisa

P.T. is a masterclass in psychological horror. It smothers players with so much tension that even the smallest attempt to get them to jump out of their chairs would likely work, but the game actually features masterful jumpscares that would work in any scenario.

At the center of said jumpscares is Lisa, the mysterious entity who haunts the corridor that serves as the entire world of P.T. Upon finding her and making the mistake of getting too close, she’ll make a run for players. This is likely when you freeze and think that you’re dead, but nothing actually happens. Lisa just disappears before making contact. That could have been it. They already had a great jumpscare, but they wanted more. It’s only when players decide to look behind them that she shows up again to really murder the player.

Anyone who’s been through this is likely feeling a nice little chill down their spine right now.

A regular day of exploration in S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl

This is probably my favorite one on the list because it’s not even scripted. That thing you just saw above can happen to you at any moment during a playthrough, meaning that it can happen more than once.

Maybe it’ll even follow you to real life, who knows? S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl just does not mess around.

That damn baby in RE Village

You know the one.

What makes this encounter so unforgettable is how — even like 10 games in — this just isn’t what you’d expect out of this series. This monstrosity shows up completely out of the blue, and it’s by far the scariest part of Resident Evil Village. Here’s hoping we’ll see Capcom venturing into even weirder territory for the upcoming games in the series.

Resident Evil 4’s fishy revenge

The Del Lago is one of the bosses in Resident Evil 4, but Leon’s final encounter with the lake monster is underwhelmingly boring. A one-off in such an otherwise impeccable game. Still, the Del Lago manages to save face as he’s actually the protagonist of the game’s best (and totally optional) jumpscare. It triggers once you shoot the water three or four times. He just jumps out of the lake and eats Leon whole. No QTE event can save you here.

Outer Wilds fishes fish the player

Outer Wilds presents itself as a very harmless and even wholesome space exploration title, and that’s what it is — for most of the time. Still, when the game finally gets players’ full trust, it hits them with one of the most horrifying sights in the history of gaming.

Be careful whenever you enter a planet that seems hospitable, as you might be entering a zone filled with giant spaceship-eating anglerfish.

Prey’s calibration test

‌Prey from 2017 sneakily invites players to do a Halo-style calibration test, but this is just a ruse to get the guard of players down and deliver one hell of a jump scare.

Remember kids, calibrating your hardware is important, but not at the cost of your heart.

About The Author
Tiago Manuel
Tiago is a freelancer who used to write about video games, cults, and video game cults. He now writes for Destructoid in an attempt to find himself on the winning side when the robot uprising comes.
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