The most terrifying jumpscares in horror-free video games

While most would actively avoid putting themselves in real danger, there is something exciting about experiencing terror in a fictional setting. Watching split-second escapes, haunting accumulations, and confusing atmospheres tickle society’s intrigue on the most primitive level. Video games have tapped into that sensation with a slew of spooky titles over the years, from resident Evil franchise to underrated gems like Alien: isolation.

Most would expect these scary moments and things that happen at night specifically of the horror genre. However, in some cases there have been games that have scared gamers’ lives simply because it was the last place they expected it to happen. From kid-friendly video games to epic superhero simulators, these titles contain some of the most surprising jumps.

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Pamela’s Father (The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask)


scary pamela zelda father majoras mask

To be fair, The Legend of Zelda: The Mask of Majora is already a game riddled with spooky moments and is generally rated as the scariest in the series. The disturbing subject matter, dark themes, and creepy music are already unnerving, especially for an “E” rated game for everyone. Even so, it’s still a game in THE Legend of Zelda franchise, owned by Nintendo. So you would never expect there to be anything too extreme.

While exploring Termina, players cross paths with a young girl named Pamela in a deserted town near Ikana Castle. She keeps her father locked in the basement of their house, fearing that he will turn into Gibdo, a mummified monster. Upon entering the house, the closet opens and Pamela’s father charges Link at a completely unexpected moment. Everything is happening so fast and that’s probably one of the main reasons why Majora’s Mask is considered so scary, even to this day.

Batman (Batman: Arkham Knight)


batman arkham knight batman jumpscare

Batman has a rogue gallery filled with monsters, monsters, and other ghoulish opponents. Bane, Killer Croc, and many more all feature elements of horror, but Man-Bat is perhaps the scariest of all, literally being a man transformed into a giant bat. Batman as a character is influenced by many elements of Gothic horror but is still more of a symbol of the superhero genre. This is what gamers thought when they first played Batman: The Knight of Arkham in 2015, the latest addition to the successful Rockstead franchise.

At one point in the game, players got quite a shock while chasing the villains of Gotham City. As they freely explore the city, players will come face to face (literally) with the monstrous Man-Bat on top of a building. This happens at random, regardless of which roof the player chooses to tackle. Man-Bat walks into the frame so quickly and lets out such a chilling scream that players will jump out of their seats before they even register what happened.

Lurker Shark (Jak and Daxter: Legacy of the Precursors)


lurker shark jak and daxter precursor legacy ps2

Before taking a more mature game design with The last of us series, Naughty Dog was known for titles more suitable for a younger audience. In the PS2 generation, the Jak and Daxter the franchise showed off the amazing capabilities of the console in its heyday and still doesn’t look too shabby these days. The colorful views, charming characters, and action platform gameplay were the last place players expected to find something horrible.

Naturally, as is the case with other entries in this article, these players were in total shock. Curiosity is often something piqued by gamers in games, wanting to follow the desire to explore new places and see what awaits them out of the main path. For those who chose to swim in open water a little too long, a gigantic yellow fish would suddenly appear and swallow Jak and Daxter whole, before plunging back into the depths.

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Creepers (Minecraft)


origins of minecraft creepers

Mainly appreciated by young audiences, MinecraftThe simple visual design and carefree nature of the game make it a light and enjoyable game. Players can explore, collect, and build structures at will, making it one of the most open and accessible games out there.

That being said, the world of Minecraft is not safe to keep players on their toes. Sometimes, often completely at random, little green creatures called Creepers will appear and stalk the player, with the ability to explode and destroy whatever they are building. These encounters happen without warning and can cost the player both resources and time if the Creeper is successful in destroying their hard work. For this reason, seeing a climbing plant suddenly approaching from a distance is an immediate cause for concern.

Finding the Crucifix (Gone Home)


Gone Home - History of heavy games like Silent Hill

Gone home is one of the most famous games of the genre “walking simulator”. The minimalist approach to storytelling, dark atmosphere, and stunning visuals make this a very enjoyable indie hit. Set in 1995, the game follows the perspective of a young woman returning to her rural family home in Oregon. Upon arrival, however, the house is empty and the family is away, and it’s up to the player to piece together the pieces of what happened.

While Gone home is somewhat unsettling, as the concept alone is a storyline that no one would want to be in, it’s technically not as scary as other first-person games like Survive to. This is why, when players discover a crucifix in the house, they might not have expected what will happen next. Upon picking it up, a light bulb will burst above the player’s head, immediately enveloping them in darkness and raising the tension to a climax.

The Ghost of Mount Gordo (Grand Theft Auto 5)


extended and improved gta 5

Almost a decade after its release, Grand Theft Auto 5 remains one of the most played and best selling games. Much of this is due to the almost limitless number of activities to see in the game, as well as the many mysterious and Easter eggs to find. Players have traveled every square inch of the world to find out. However, there are some things you better not find.


While exploring the heights of Mount Gordo, players may discover a trail of blood along a flat rock that spells out the word “Jock”. If this location is visited at a certain time of night, players will be able to see a ghost manifesting itself on top of the aforementioned flat rock. If the player gets too close, the ghost will disappear. Additionally, if players are exploring a campsite near the location, high-pitched screams can be heard in the middle of the night. For an otherwise ironic action-comedy tone, this moment is sure to scare even the most hardened gamers.

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About the Author

John C. Dent