A screaming face blinking into existence is not scary
When I were writing my review of Layers Of Fear I noticed something. I found the jumpscares in that game very enjoyable. That got me thinking about jumpscares in general so without further ado here’s my personal history with jumpscares and the pros and cons of using jumpscares.
When I was a kid we had a Nintendo 64. With the Nintendo 64 we got Mario 64 and being a lover of Super Mario World I had to play it immediately! I played for hours until I reached the haunted house level. It had gotten dark outside but remembering SMW I knew that it was not going to be that scary. Then it came. My first jumpscare in my entire life. You already know what it is. The God damn piano with teeth. I still remember that I jumped up and started bawling my eyes out calling for my mom. It’s a good example on how to make a well placed jumpscare cause it worked on me or maybe I was just being a little whiny kid.
The other story is from when I had gotten a little bit older. My cousins had a Playstation and on it they had Resident evil 1. I don’t remember much beside the fact that my mother told me not to watch them play cause I was too young. What kid listens to that kind of advice? The jumpscare I remember was the one with the dogs in the door to the outside. They had the volume way up and it scared the crap out of me. Good times were had by all. Except for me cause I started bawling this time as well.
A well placed jumpscare can be terrifying. The ones from my childhood are great examples of when a jumpscare is unexpected and really gets your heart pumping.
Jumpscares work best if they’re far and few inbetween. Then they can be really scary. Less really is more in the case of jumpscares.
The cons / end statement
Five Nights At Freddy’s is not a good game. The reason is that the somewhat good story is behind a wall of jumpscares. Some of them are expected and some are not. But when they are that frequent they loose the scare factor. They might make you jump but that doesn’t scare you.
Not only is having too many jumpscares a con but also having expected jumpscares a huge con. In horror movies they usually do a buildup to a jumpscare, it’s not original and it is rarely scary. Unfortunately horror games took this trope and did nothing to innovate. A good jumpscare is unexpected, rare and has a slow buildup or no buildup. The sad fact of the matter is that a majority of horror games have not yet learnt the way of the jumpscare. Try to innovate, experiment or just skip the jumpscare all together. It’ll make for a better game. Trust me on that.