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The Jump Scare: 5 Nightmarish Video Game Characters



Chances are, if you're a real horror fanatic and know the loop like the back of your hand — then you're probably going to know when and where the next scare will be coming from. It's in your blood, and it's in your head — circling endlessly as you close in on the big reveal. You can sense that alluring scare treading softly in the shadows, waiting to strike at the perfect moment. You know it's coming, don't you?

While being brushed up on the horror world can prove useful for playing video games — not every title can be read the same as a movie or a book. Admittedly, there are some key ingredients that other forms of media don't have access to. And, it's because of that, that developers have been able to scare us senseless time and time again and still get away with it. Thanks to the power of video games — every jump scare lands in one way or another. But these five, in specific, hit new levels of bone-shattering panic. So, are you ready for a scare or two?


5. Alma (F.E.A.R)

It's Alma's spontaneous drop-ins that make F.E.A.R a true gem in the horror universe.

I don't know what it is about little girls — but they're incredibly effective when it comes to shaking a few nerves in horror games. Sure, they've been replayed and rehashed time and time again, but as the saying goes: if it isn't broke — don't fix it. And the same goes for Alma from the F.E.A.R saga. Nothing new needed to be added when it came to developing this one, to be fair. Just a grubby red dress and a curtain of jet black hair. Easy.

While she may not be an original concept with standout personality traits, she does tend to leave a mark — especially in video game format. All she has to do is walk through a corridor, crawl through the ventilation or appear at the foot of a ladder and you're frozen. Thanks to Monolith Productions and their well mapped out Alma appearances, trudging through F.E.A.R and all of its hollow hallways made up for some truly terrifying gameplay.


4. Ghost (Until Dawn)

I don't think anybody could've predicted this one, to be honest.

It's fair to say that Until Dawn was a total breath of fresh air for the survival horror world. Although we've watched hundreds of hours of cliche teenage horror flicks in our time with that same old plotline, Supermassive Games was somehow able to turn the tide on the tale and make it fresh. Through various routes and dialogue trees, Until Dawn becomes whatever you want it to be, and something you can play through multiple times and still not get weary of.

With all of that in mind, there are, in fact, some scares that can only be effective on the first run. This one, to be more precise. Chances are, if you've played through Until Dawn and know the story — then the above image might just bring a few memories back from your time on Blackwood Mountain. I don't think anybody could've predicted this one, to be honest. Well played, Supermassive.


3. The Lady (P.T.)

Silent Hills had GOTY written all over it.

One of the most effective strategies in horror gaming is to use randomly generated characters. By doing so, players can shovel through the same nightmare a hundred times over and still be greeted with different outcomes. It provides endless replayability and satisfaction — no matter the length of the story itself. And, honestly, that's sort of why the short-lived P.T. became such an overwhelming sensation; there was always something to see.

If you were lucky enough to step into the teaser that was to be Silent Hills before it vanished from the market, then you're more than likely aware of the lingering lady of the house. If not, then you'll find thousands of hours of nightmarish appearances on any major streaming platform. In fact, I'd personally opt for the passenger seat as opposed to playing through this nightmare all over again. Trust me.


2. Slender Man (Slender)

Thanks to Slender, we stopped looking over our shoulders for two weeks.

It just goes to show that sometimes we don't need a multi-million dollar sound design in order to create an ambience. In fact, sometimes all you need is the beat of a drum — and the thud of your own heartbeat. If implemented correctly, those two little things can work absolute wonders when it comes to building horror. That, of course, was the reason why Slender amassed such a positive reception post-launch.

Similar to P.T., Slender thrives from spontaneous actions as opposed to fixed ones. Again, that makes every playthrough a unique experience where nothing dares to relate to your previous attempts. Sure, Slender Man is somewhat basic in design, but he is downright terrifying in appearance — especially when standing only a few feet from your back.


1. Freddy & Co (Five Nights at Freddy's)

Who would've thought a pizza restaurant could be so scary?

It's fair to say that nobody expected Five Nights at Freddy's to be anywhere near as terrifying as it actually was. It shouldn't have been. I mean, how could a few stuffed bears and laughing animatronics be so scary, right? Surely, tackling a few of them in a pizza restaurant at night wouldn't be anything more than a doddle? And yet, even with the innocence pouring out of the eyes of the patrolling pets — sitting watch for nine minutes a night was probably some of the most bone-shattering moments of our gaming lives.

Using only a few buttons and a relatively simple concept, Five Nights at Freddy's puts us in charge of the night watch of a restaurant. However, with Freddy and his friends coming to life at night and derailing from their innocence — keeping the joint in check becomes one of the most heart-wrenching experiences of all time.


In need of some more horror? You could always give these a shot:

5 Absolutely Terrifying Psychological Horror Games

10 Horror Games That Will Keep You Awake at Night

Jord is acting Team Leader at If he isn't blabbering on in his daily listicles, then he's probably out writing fantasy novels or scraping Game Pass of all its slept on indies.