There's something about subverting expectations that makes the jump scare that much more impactful. If you're playing a horror game, you already come in with the mindset that something is going to jump in your face, it's just a matter of when. It's all good, that's what you're there for, it's fun.
When you are playing something that's not generally scary and you're settled in for a relaxing (or exciting) time, nothing brings you out of that mode more than a random jump scare. So, to celebrate the art of non-horror jump scares, here are a few to watch out for.
8 Alligator Attacks – Far Cry 3
This installment of the franchise has a single shining star in its protagonist Vaas, but for many of you, he isn't the scariest part of Far Cry 3 (and isn't in it long enough, if you ask me, but that's not the point). It's not just the goons and guns; Jason Brody can hold his own against them…somehow.
The true terror comes from the blue depths of Rook Islands' rivers. Alligators will see your limbs and decide they need a snack if you swim for too long. They'll grab your arm without warning, and you'll only have a few seconds to fight back with a knife. The fear will cause you to put down the controller for a few minutes after to catch your breath.
7 Titania's Story – Final Fantasy 14
Have you heard about the critically acclaimed MMORPG Final Fantasy 14? Just kidding. Final Fantasy 14 is a story MMO with extremely deep lore dating back millennia. In the source, the 'universe' that is separated from the original world that FF14 takes place on has a beautiful world inhabited by faeries, and they were once ruled over by the Great Faerie King Titania before they became engulfed by the light, transforming into a Lightbringer.
As the Warrior of Darkness, it falls on you and your party to unseal their castle and make them right. So, once you finally get the backstory of the great King, it increasingly becomes more unhinged. Then before you know it, the former Faerie King is in your face, smiling with dead eyes. It'll send shivers down your spine.
6 Reaper Leviathan – Subnautica
So, picture this: you are stranded on a planet that is mostly water, and you not only have to figure out how to survive but rebuild until you can leave. The dark depths of Subnautica alone can have most players scared to venture far into the deep, but not long after do you realize that although you are the only human on this planet now, you are far from alone.
Further and further you go, each time you go looking for salvage, your trip back to base takes longer and longer. The dark, cold waters hum with a heavy silence, that is until you hear that roar coming from all around you. You pray that your vessel is fast enough to outrun the unknown entity, but it's too late, it's here and has its tentacles around your sub, too late to flee.
5 Alien Abduction – Ecco The Dolphin
Ecco The Dolphin for the Sega Genesis scarred a lot of kids who thought they were picking up a simple dolphin adventure where you were just going to swim and jump. Oh no, it's never that simple. Instead, as you are playing with the depth of the water and come up for air, a red and yellow light flashes, and dozens of your friends and other fish are whisked away to who-knows-where.
The music is haunting following the abduction, reminding you of everyone you've lost and need to get back. The gameplay that follows honestly could be scary in its own right, as you must manage the air you need to breathe as you descend deeper into the unknown parts of the ocean. The ocean is scary, y'all.
4 Deathclaw – Fallout 3
Listen, if you are going to be wandering around Fallout 3's Central Wasteland, you better be packing some serious firepower, because these things are nothing to play with. They are fast, strong, and will jump out at you at a moment’s notice.
While eventually, you'll be able to overpower them with your upgraded weapons, it's still not a bad idea to peek around corners to make sure you aren't trespassing into their territory, or worse, stepping into one of their dark, rank nests where you'll find their eggs.
3 Unintended Violence – Perfect Vermin
Perfect Vermin is a microgame with a run time of around ten to 15 minutes unless you are trying to complete it 100 percent. Then, it can run for up to an hour. Without giving too much away, you have a hammer, and your job is to destroy as many office items as you can before time runs out.
Very quickly, however, you realize that not all is what it seems. You self-inflict the first and possibly only jumpscare as you find out not all the furniture is what it seems to be. Once you find out the truth, you will be truly horrified.
2 Man Bat – Arkham Knight
In Batman's Arkham Franchise, you are the caped crusader, terrorizing anyone on the streets who would dare to commit crime. You are justice. You are the night. You are Batman. Nothing can get to him, as he has a soul of steel that only shakes when it comes to dealing with personal trauma head on.
So, what would make the Batman himself jump in fright? The Joker? Nah, not really. He is only a man; a chaotic man who will destroy the world just to get bat's attention, but still just a man at the end of the day. But who does get the jump on him at the end of the day? Man bat. Yes, that man bat. As you're gliding along and scaling the rooftops of Arkham, Man bat will try and catch you off guard any chance he gets.
1 Malenia – Elden Ring
The Blade of Miquella has earned her reputation as one of the most difficult boss fights in Elden Ring, and that's saying something. Players have been known to be stuck on her for months until they become one with her attack patterns and make the right build. So, once you finally strike the last blow, you are ready to celebrate. Maybe even with a party.
The illusion of victory is short-lived, shattered by a single word from the lips of your would-be vanquished boss.
Before you know it, she emerges from a fiery cocoon adorned with wings made of her beloved butterflies. Your heart sinks into your stomach as you realize that your fight, your hard-earned victory, was only the beginning.
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