Note: This article was updated in July of 2019.
The defining feature of a stealth title is that the player is encouraged to stay hidden in the shadows, which is obviously very different from how most action games are played. There’s no running and gunning and players are definitely encouraged to stay out of sight instead of going up in head-to-head battles against their opponents.
The player can choose whether to sneak up behind enemies or take them out with one hit, usually sapping them instead of killing them outright, with the damage increased by a factor of surprise. Even avoiding enemies and bypassing them completely is an option when the game’s objectives revolve around getting from point A to point B instead of killing everything along the way.
Many stealth games score the player on various measures of stealthy play after each level, like how often the character was detected, or how many enemies were dispatched. With this criteria in mind, we take a look at ten (or more) of the best stealth games of all time.
#33 We Happy Few
- Developer: Compulsion Games
- Publisher: Gearbox Publishing
We Happy Few is an indie survival horror video game that comes from developers Compulsion Games, previously known for their release of Contrast. Overall, within the game, players are set in an alternative timeline in Europe where citizens are forced to consume a daily drug, hindering them away from the realities of the world.
The game will feature protagonists who have refused to take the drug causing them to see the corruption and horror within the world. Now as they venture out to solve their own mysteries they’ll have to carefully stay under the radar to avoid bringing unwanted attention.
There’s even a permadeath option if you’re feeling lucky and want a real challenge going through the game, but again, it’s an option that you don’t have to take on.
#32 Tenchu: Shadow Assassins
- Developer: Acquire, FromSoftware
- Publisher: Ubisoft
- Platforms: Wii, PSP
- Release: February 5, 2009
Released a decade after the first Tenchu for both the PSP and the Nintendo Wii, Tenchu: Shadow Assassins is the fourth game in the series and one which retains the series’ roots of being a stealth-action game.
Shadow Assassins allows players to take control of two characters, feautring an over-the-shoulder camera perspective. Set across 10 missions, players can choose to opt for stealth or engage their enemies in open combat using martial arts skills.
- Developer: Mike Bithell Games
- Publisher: Mike Bithell Games
- Platforms: PC, PS4
- Release: August 15, 2015
In the past year, Mike Bithell, creator of the critically acclaimed Thomas Was Alone, released a new stealth-action game called Volume. In it, players take on the role of Locksley, who commits his crimes through stealth. He sneaks, he distracts, and avoids. Never to be seen and seldom heard, Locksley blackjacks, bugles, and thunderclaps his foes with a wide arsenal of gadgets at his disposal. The game has a hundred challenging and exciting environments, and every area of the game can be remixed, added to, and expanded upon with the community getting free rein over the game’s direction.
This stealth simulation type game takes its cues from Metal Gear Solid, offering a top down third person view of the action as the player attempts to make their way through a myriad of hazards and unique guards and enemies.