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The most epic gaming jump scares

Resident Evil, Silent Hill, BioShock, Dead Space — many of the most beloved gaming franchises deliver terror beyond your wildest imagination. From vengeful spirits and tweaked out splicers to monsters with pyramids on their heads, all of these games have mastered ways of scaring the living hell out of their fans. It's no surprise, then, that they also feature the best jump scares in gaming history.

We're not talking about the slow, creeping moments that crawl under your skin and give you goosebumps, but the instances of shock and awe that will have you jumping out of your seat. Moments so terrifying that they may force you to drop your controller and power off your console. Some might call these cheap scares, but when done right — as in the case of masterworks like Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del Toro's P.T. demo — these jump scares make booting up a survival horror game worth it.

We've picked ten of the best jump scares in gaming history.

Every Lisa scare in P.T.

To this day, few video game horror experiences are as frightening as P.T., the playable teaser for the now-canceled Silent Hills. Released during Gamescom 2014, P.T. unleashed a wave of terror across the internet as gamers tried to figure out the teaser's secrets and the answers to its most obtuse puzzles.

At the center of the teaser's mystery was the seemingly infinite loop it trapped players in. In P.T., you're forced to walk through an L-shaped corridor over and over again, as you slowly learn what happened to the family that once lived in the hellish house. You encounter terrors such as a talking fetus in a sink, a hallway full of eyeballs, and ... Lisa, the game's "monster."

In fact, few encounters in the game (or in the horror genre, in general) are as unnerving as the first time you run into Lisa. You're walking through a long hallway, which is filled with the sounds of a woman whimpering (or is that maniacal laughter?), when suddenly you turn a corner and she's there ... waiting for you at the other end of the adjacent corridor. She doesn't attack or even move. Lisa is just standing there like a statue, daring you to walk towards her. When finally you do brave yourself to take a few steps forward, the lights go out and she is gone.

Every single subsequent Lisa scare, from watching you from the second floor to surprising you from behind, brings out a visceral sense of terror that's not very easy to emulate, even by survival horror genre's greatest monsters.

The infamous Alma ladder scare from F.E.A.R.

As Stanley Kubrick's The Shining proved so many years ago, there are few things scarier than ominous little girls in horror stories, and little Alma Wade takes the cake (and your mind) when it comes to video games. In fact, she's one of the greatest video game villains of all time.

Fueled by revenge against the scientists who experimented on her and brutalized her during her childhood, this powerful psychic entity paints the blood and gore of the F.E.A.R. series. In the first game, she appears as a little girl in a red dress, her face covered in dark, inky hair. Clearly inspired by Sadako Yamamura from the Ring film series, this vengeful ghost appears when players least expect it.

If you're lucky, she'll only pop up for a few seconds to play tricks on you, such as in the most infamous jump scare from the first game. As you're climbing down a ladder, Alma quickly appears, sending you into a full-blown panic as you frantically try to get down to the lower level before she can get you. F.E.A.R.: Extraction Point, an expansion for the first game, paid tribute to this moment with a similar scare, only this time you're climbing up a ladder when suddenly an adult Alma reaches out for you from an air duct. Bone-chilling.

The swinging corpse from Outlast

Outlast drops you into the very depths of insanity for a horror experience that will leave you reeling. You play as a journalist named Miles Upshur, who sets out to investigate the mysterious goings-on at Mount Massive Asylum after receiving an anonymous tip (which is never a good sign). At the center of the horrors are the inhumane experiments being conducted by the doctors at the institution, which ultimately make a tear in the fabric of reality.

Taking inspiration from the 2010 cult classic survival horror game, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Outlast developer Red Barrels arms you only with a camcorder with which to record the unspeakable horrors inside the asylum. You don't have any weapons or fighting skills. All you can do is run and hide. To help you evade enemies, the camera also has a night vision function that comes in handy but also depletes your camera's batteries at an alarming pace. The studio clearly intended to make players suffer throughout the experience.

The suffering begins just a few minutes into the game. After sneaking into the building through some scaffolding, you discover that there's no personnel working in the asylum. In fact, it seems that the patients are simply roaming around freely. As you investigate further, you come upon a closed door that when opened reveals the swinging corpse of a SWAT operative hanging from the ceiling. It's the first major scare in the game and still one of its most powerful.

The dentist will see you now in BioShock

The first BioShock is full of scares unimaginable, as you plunge deeper into the underwater dystopia of Rapture. At its core, the point of the game is to survive and make your way back to the surface, but as you progress, the mystery behind what happened in Rapture (and your unique connection to this fallen utopia) is revealed.

Along the way, you meet many of Rapture's most colorful and insane citizens. For example, who can forget entering Fort Frolic for the first time to meet Sander Cohen, the city's very own psychotic artist? Then there's your journey into the Dental Services Area at Rapture's Medical Pavilion, where all kinds of perverse surgeries and procedures were conducted on the patients.

It's at Painless Dental where you're hit with one of the biggest frights in all of BioShock. After exploring the gruesome office and finding a Speedy Hacker Gene Tonic, you're surprised from behind by a mad dentist who is ready to make you his next victim. You better be quick with your trigger finger if you want to survive.

Zombie dogs crash the party in Resident Evil

Despite what Milla Jovovich might have taught Resident Evil fans about kicking zombie dogs in the face (as seen in the first Resi movie), your best line of defense against the T-virus infected hounds hunting you in the Spencer Mansion is a gun. Don't have any ammo? You better run. Unlike the shambling corpses that await you in the long corridors and dark rooms of the mansion, these pups are fast and ferocious, gnawing on you faster than you can aim and shoot.

The first Resident Evil game uses these devil dogs to its advantage in one of the best scares of the entire series. As you walk down a hallway as either Chris or Jill, a whole pack of zombie dogs come crashing through the windows on your right, ready to bite your face off. To make things worse, the corridor is so narrow that you'll have to face the zombie dogs one by one if you want to survive. It's a stunning moment that will leave most players distressed the first time they play through the game.

Running into Slenderman in Slender

Slenderman is one of the most well-known figures of the internet's Creepypasta movement — fictitious legends spread through forums and social media. First introduced in 2009 in the forums of humor website Something Awful, Slenderman, with his inhuman height, expressionless face, and sharp claws, has become for many the very face of the Creepypasta. YouTube series, such as the inventive Marble Hornets, as well tons of other internet legends about the character have sprouted up on the web since his original appearance.

It's no surprise that the horror of Slenderman was eventually brought to the world of video games. The freeware indie survival horror game, Slender: The Eight Pages, arrived in 2012 and quickly began terrifying a whole new audience.

Part of Slender's success is due to its minimalist approach: the goal of the game is to collect eight pages hidden around a foggy forest stalked by Slenderman. As you find pages, the game becomes more difficult and Slenderman sightings increase. You only have a few seconds to get away from him before he kills you (although all you actually see is static when he grabs you). Nevertheless, no matter how many times Slenderman might find you, running into him never becomes less frightening.

The opening elevator scare from Dead Space

While the Dead Space series is well past its heyday, especially after Electronic Arts shuttered the studio that created it in the first place, it's hard to deny that the original game is one of the finest horror titles ever made. From the moment you set foot on the USG Ishimura mining vessel, you're in for a terrifying trip you won't soon forget.

What begins as a rescue mission after Earth loses contact with the Ishimura turns into a fight for survival, as you make your way through the Necromorph-infested Ishimura in order to find a means of escape after your own transport crash lands on the ship. To make matters worse, your character, ship systems engineer Isaac Clarke, is looking for his girlfriend, Nicole, who is somewhere on the ship. Needless to say, you'll have to fight through waves of monsters to find Nicole and get off this floating hellscape.

The game's opening is masterful. After crash landing on the Ishimura, Isaac and the rest of the rescue team explore the ship ... when suddenly they're attacked by a horde of necromorphs. Separated from the rest of the team, Isaac is forced to run down a hallway and into an elevator. You think you're safe when the elevator doors close but then a necromorph pries them open for one last scare. It's the shocking moment when you realize that you're not safe anywhere on the Ishimura ...

Marguerite attacks in Resident Evil 7

When Resident Evil 7 was first announced at E3 2016, it brought with it the expectations of both Resident Evil fans and those who longed for the days when Silent Hills was still in development. After all, the first demo of the game, "The Beginning Hour," showed a new kind of Resi experience, one that embraced a first-person camera and the feeling of helplessness that had made P.T. so incredibly popular (even if Capcom said that this was just coincidence).

Resident Evil 7 did not disappoint, of course, and it garnered rave reviews and brought with it the sense that the franchise was back on the map. Part of the reason was that Resident Evil 7 wasn't just about evading enemies as much as possible (although it helps). There were also the great boss fights against the twisted members of the Baker family, the game's main antagonists.

Most bone-chilling of all is your fight with Marguerite Baker, the matriarch of the family, who has a thing for bugs. As you walk through her house of horrors, Marguerite stalks you, following your every step with her creepy lantern in hand. Right when you think you've found a way out of her area, she pops out and grabs you. It's a moment of pure terror that is amplified by 1,000 if you're playing the game in VR. Do not recommend.

The moving mannequins from Condemned: Criminal Origins

The survival horror genre has a pretty overt fascination with creepy mannequins. They're everywhere. Whether it be the moving mannequins in the opening of Resident Evil 7, the gruesome ones from Silent Hill 2, or the ones that stalk you in Late Night Shop (an entire game dedicated to the faceless terrors), running into a mannequin in a horror game is never a good thing. In fact, it's a sign that you're in for quite the scare when you least expect it.

Perhaps the best use of mannequins in all of survival horror, Condemned: Criminal Origins delivers a moving mannequin scare that you won't soon forget. While on the trail of a serial killer known as the Match Maker at Bart's Department Store, the game's protagonist, Ethan Thomas, finds himself surrounded by mannequins. At one point, he passes a group of them displayed across a room, but when he turns around, they've surrounded him. It turns out that there are human enemies posing as mannequins and you can't tell which is which!

The broken neck ghost from Fatal Frame

Many call Koei Tecmo's Fatal Frame series one of the scariest franchises in gaming. It's Fatal Frame's unique approach to horror that sets it apart from other series. While players aren't as helpless to fight the game's ghouls as, say, Amnesia or Outlast, they can't just open fire or unleash their melee skills on them either. Instead, players are armed with the Camera Obscura, a device capable of exorcising spirits. Not many other games force you to look fear in the face and take a picture of them to defeat them.

In the original game, you play as Miku Hinasaki, a girl looking for her brother inside a desolate mansion. While she investigates her brother's whereabouts, she encounters the ghosts that haunt the house. One of the most frightening jump scares in the game sees Miku walking through a hallway when she suddenly comes face to face with the spirit of a woman with a broken neck. Even though the graphics aren't great to today's standards, it's still a moment of terror worth your attention.