Top 10 Stealth Video Games

Published 8 months ago by This is a list post.

Best Stealth Games Thief Mainstream video games may have taken on a reputation for being loud, proud, action-heavy adventures pulled straight out of Hollywood blockbusters, but that's not the whole story. And for fans of the stealth genre, there's nothing like moving through a field of enemies without them even realizing you passed by, let alone riddling them with bullets. The recent reboot of Thief didn't quite meet the expectations fans of the original series had, and dealt a serious blow to stealth's return to the top of the AAA heap. Even so, games like Dishonored and Mark of the Ninja prove that hiding doesn't mean a player can't still feel powerful. A quick look at the best instances of stealth proves that the genre is set for a return, so without further ado, here is our list of the Top 10 Stealth Video Games.

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Batman Arkham Asylum Best Stealth Games While it may be a Batman game, not a stealth game first and foremost, the developers at Rocksteady Studios bottled lightning when they crafted Batman: Arkham Asylum. After years of disappointment implied that no team could ever hope of crafting a well-designed game starring DC Comics' famous hero, Asylum put players into the cape and cowl, and offered a chance to see how it feels to be one with the darkness. Sure, Asylum also introduced a third-person combat that would reshape the industry, but the most memorable moments of the game (and its sequels) recreate Batman's skill for stealth. Soundlessly flitting overhead, creeping in shadows, and using fear itself against his enemies. While stealth is often preferred for weaker characters, Arkham Asylum made the approach seem more terrifying than any other

Far Cry 3

Far Cry 3 Best Stealth Games It may seem odd to see Ubisoft's Far Cry 3 appear on this list, given the game's marketing as an action-fueled adventure in a brightly-lit tropical setting (and its follow-up DLC campaign embodying everything stealth typically doesn't). But that preference for spectacle was only skin deep, and hid a truly well-designed and satisfying stealth engine perfect for any gamer who sought to be silent in broad daylight. The on-screen system warning how suspicious enemy forces were of the player's activities was all the information needed, and the ability to distract, break sight lines and attack covertly were flawless to those who found them. Bright lights or darkness, Far Cry 3 offered open world stealth more competent than any expected.

Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay

Riddick Escape Butcher Bay Best Stealth Games Video game historians know that The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay is a product of note for a number of reasons. Besides being one movie tie-in game that wasn't downright horrible, it also happened to be better than the movie it was tied to. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Half-Life and Splinter Cell, Butcher Bay wasn't just critically acclaimed, but hailed by some as one of the best games in a console generation. Blending first-person stealth and action against the backdrop of a maximum security prison break (aided by a strong performance from Vin Diesel), developer Starbreeze Studios delivered a polished, gripping, story-driven stealth experience. The game was so under-appreciated, it would be re-released along with Assault on Dark Athena, a sequel capitalizing on much of the original's promise.

Hitman: Blood Money

Hitman Blood Money Best Stealth Games As the name of the series implies, Hitman has always given players incentives for a quiet, stealthy approach in executing the assassination contracts which make up a bulk of the game's content. Agent 47 has appeared in a number of separate adventures, but we'd give a tip of our hat to Blood Money if we had to choose. Encapsulating much of the core gameplay seen before and after in the series, Blood Money brought several improvements from IO Interactive: players could now stash bodies to avoid suspicion, make kills seem like accidents like never before, almost always leading to some absurd or brilliant result. Stealth, however, was still the most highly rewarded approach. Everyone has their favorite, but Blood Money might be the best in the series.

Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory

Splinter Cell Chaos Theory Best Stealth Games For years, the Splinter Cell name has been synonymous with console stealth titles, so it's right that our list should pay tribute to the covert combat worthy of the 'Tom Clancy' name. And if you ask longtime fans of the series which installment set the bar the highest, they're likely to hand that title to Chaos Theory; if not as the far-and-way best, at least the most ahead of its time. Following the series hero Sam Fisher, Chaos Theory took the core Splinter Cell gameplay (already accomplished in the stealth genre) and stripped away some of the more annoying (read: 'game-y') mechanics. No longer would alarms sound if no guards were present to trigger them, takedowns from the front were just as effective, and players had to worry about Fisher being not just seen, but heard. A brilliant stealth experience that - for good or bad - set a high standard for future entries.

Mark of the Ninja

Mark of the Ninja Best Stealth Games Most of the stealth games on our list take great pains to immerse players into the mind of a stealth operator, making the character's eyes their own, and suspending disbelief as much as possible. Developer Klei Entertainment took a completely different approach with Mark of the Ninja, and employed mechanics and game design so flawless that the resulting stealth experience was among the best we've played in years. Sticking with a 2D presentation and hand-drawn style, and favoring stealth mechanics that genuinely inspired (like sight line invisibility) Mark of the Ninja became an instant classic. The drive behind the game was to return video game ninjas to the idea of stealth assassins, not brutal killing machines. It was a risk that paid off, and proved even in 2D, the fear of getting caught is to be sought after, not avoided.

Metal Gear Solid

Metal Gear Solid Best Stealth Games There are successful games, and there are successful game franchises - and then there is Metal Gear Solid. The PlayStation title marked the leap of series star Solid Snake into the world of 3D graphics, and console stealth titles were never the same. It's enough to say that the demo for Metal Gear Solid was enough to blow gamers' minds, but the overall game's dedication to punishing stealth and evasion made its place in history certain. Since then, the series has become known for much more than its stealth mechanics, but Solid Snake's first 3D outing, and the simulated training missions included with it are still informing AAA game design. Sadly, few games have adopted Snake's handy cardboard box to hide in plain sight, but perhaps that will remain Kojima's trademark alone.

Deus Ex

Deus Ex Best Stealth Games It's hard to say what is more impressive: that Deus Ex was hailed as one of the greatest PC games ever created, or that stealth and evasion is just one of the possible strategies which players could choose to complete it. Set in a dystopian cyberpunk future, following a nanotech-augmented operative of the 'United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition,' the stage was set for over-the-top violence. But players could just as easily use their powers to avoid combat, not dominate it. Deus Ex left that decision up to the player - a trend that would carry through every other aspect of the game design. With progress came skill points, to be used to make players more powerful, or even better at going undetected (to lock-pick, or lock and load?). The game set a precedent for all role-playing games released afterward, and the recent prequel Human Revolution aspired to the same ends. But nothing beats the original.

Dishonored

Dishonored Best Stealth Games In hindsight, it's easy to see how many of the games on our list made waves as the first experiments with gameplay mechanics that are now commonplace. But Dishonored proved that even in today's crowded industry, with so much of game development a paint-by-numbers proposition, a team can always do it better. And in the case of Arkane Studios, they can still surprise. Dropping players into the role of Corvo, a royal bodyguard in the Victorian-style setting of Dunwall, players were treated to an open world and a wealth of supernatural powers with which to explore it. Following so closely in the path of Thief and Deus Ex meant the game had detractors, but for stealth fans, Dishonored was the blockbuster RPG they had spent years waiting to see.

Thief: The Dark Project

Thief Dark Project Best Stealth Games Fans of the original Thief series from Looking Glass Studios met the proposed reboot with serious skepticism, and with good reason; the use of light and sound to remain concealed, the complex AI routines and emergent events that became trademarks of the brand weren't designed to mimic successful franchises, but create a brand new one. Playing as the titular thief, Garrett, players used their HUD's 'light gem' to determine not whether they were hidden from sight, but how hidden, and had to navigate spaces through not just shadows, but across quiet surfaces to avoid detection. As one of the greatest influences on most of the games on our list, the original Thief stands the test of time. Even if the graphics have aged, the genius of the gameplay hasn't faded one bit.

Conclusion

Assassins Creed Best Stealth Games There are certainly plenty of stealth-oriented games to love, and even more major titles that try to incorporate specific elements of stealth into larger experiences. Few areas of the Assassin's Creed series are more criticized than its stealth systems, but the fact that the developers continue to pursue a stealth mechanic in a runaway action series makes it clear: the genre offers something that no other can. These games just happen to do it effortlessly, in our experience. But be sure to mention your own favorites in the comments. _____ Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
TAGS: Batman Arkham Asylum, Chronicles of Riddick Assault on Dark Athena, Deus Ex, Dishonored, Far Cry 3, Hitman, Mark of the Ninja, Metal Gear Solid, Splinter Cell, Splinter Cell Chaos Theory, Thief

36 Comments

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  1. Stealth or not, it’s really a solid list of games.

  2. MGS being 4th and there being no MGS3 makes this list null & void….. It started off well too.

  3. This is a Pretty good list.

  4. Dishonored at #2? Hahaha

    Yea, especially with the teleport ability. Very stealthy indeed.

    • What about teleportation couldn’t be used stealthily?

    • Well its not as if though you can use the teleport ability all the time or even to reach everywhere. It’s difficult and technically stealth since in order to get a good ending and get all achievements you would need to have a very low chaos rating. If you’ve actually played it in the way of a true ninja it would be considered difficult. Especially when you want to get the “ghost” or “clean hands” achievements. No alarms, no bodies, and no killing even the ,aim objectives.

  5. Am I mistaken, or is Assassin’s Creed stealth-based series? I would’ve figuredone of those titles would have been mentioned, but I could be mistaken about it’s genre.

    • Assassin’s Creed has the option for stealth, but there’s usually no point when the main character can just as easily (or have an easier time, actually) slaughter dozens of guards in open combat.

    • The stealth in Assassin’s Creed is, ah…

      Let’s just say it’s a great game franchise, but not necessarily a great stealth franchise.

      • I feel like the same argument could be made for many of the gamea featured on this list, though. I watched my best friend slot dozens of guards in open combat during Dishonored, for example…

        • The stealth in Dishonored is also excellent, though, and the best ending for the game is achieved by not killing anyone. In Assassin’s Creed the stealth mostly just consists of jumping in haystacks and sitting on benches, and the assassinations themselves are designed in such a way that you have to flee afterwards with a dozen guards on your tail.

          Aside from the fact that AC feels a lot more geared towards big dramatic kills and combat against multiple enemies, the stealth mechanics that are included are really kind of bad.

          • I guess I do see your point. I guess my perspective was a little more influenced by my gameplay style throughout the AC series

        • Dishonored is much more an “assassin” game than a pure “stealth” one, but you can definetly play stealth.

          The combat features are far more embodied than some other games from this list, that’s for sure, and I personally wouldn’t have put it this high but still…

      • Yeah it’s kind of non-existent. When you get seen, most of the time you have to restart the sequence so… if you cannot bear the consequences of your mistakes, that’s not a stealth gameplay, more like a stealth gimmick.

        But that’s a great franchise nonetheless, even if I am honestly relieved that it didn’t make it to this particular list.

  6. Why is MGS and it’s sequels/prequels not at #1? It’s THE stealth game.

    • Because Thief revolutionized the stealth genre in almost every way.

      • Um no it didn’t..

        • Yes it did.

          • really? it revolutionized stealth based? so all stealth games are modeled after thief? so yeah no it didn’t.

          • I don’t know if you have played Thief or not man, but Thief could have made it to #1 simply from it’s stealth gameplay mechanics. I have never in my life played a game with better stealth mechanics than Thief and rather or not they revolutionized the stealth genre, it’s design is perfection of stealth itself.

    • MGS is far more action-oriented than Thief is, so it’s understandable from my point of view.

  7. Manhunt surely deserves a spot!

  8. While it may not deserve a spot on this list, I feel that Skyrim deserves at least some mention. The stealth portion of the game were by no means as polished or dedicated as most of the games on this list, but playing the game with stealth in mind is loads of fun, especially when doing Thieves Guild and Dark Brotherhood quests. I remember the first time I played, I used a bow and magic to assassinate every guard on the Emperor’s ship and then the Emperor himself without once being detected.

    While arguably not the best strategy considering I killed the Emperor without knowing that he gave you alternate options if you talked to him, it still is the most fun memory I have of Skyrim.

    • Similarly, Fallout 3 can also be played with stealth in mind. After purchasing the game of the year edition, I started the Operation Anchorage dlc quest as early as I could. Then basically “finished” the game without ever really taking off the Chinese Stealth Armour

  9. Dishonored is a good game and had great stealth-based levels but the AI was meh. Normally that’s a given in most stealth based games, but it kind of made all the choices pointless. Arkham Asylum was hardly a stealth game. Other than that, it’s a pretty solid list. Then again, I probably couldn’t name very many more than that. Other than like Tenchu or Crysis. My personal favorites are Chaos Theory and Metal Gear Solid 3.

  10. Crysis, best stealth game I have ever played (and there are honestly not lots) but I can re-play Crysis on the 360 3 times now and enjoy the total lack of carnage to that beautiful landscape by just being patient. And the harbor assault was my real introduction to the whole mechanic. I never played Thief, but after seeing so many positive reviews I am going to play Dishonored now, its been a title that keeps nagging at me.

  11. The list is fairly good, except for one forgotten Gem. One of my all time favorites, Tenchu STEALTH Assassins. Where the hell is that game?! I’m still waiting for a reboot, but please, dont let Square Enix make it!

    • I was going to mention the same game . Tenchu pretty much started the stealth games

      • He is right. Man those games were soo hard when I was a kid lol sure they weren’t made for my age group at the time lol. I could never get passed the demo!

    • I kinda have to take it back… MGS, Thief and Tenchu all came out the same year so id have to say they all contributed to the Stealth beginning.

  12. How this list exists without Metro 2033 is truly mind boggling to me.

    • Stealth wasn’t always possible in Metro 2033 as some scripted events REQUIRED you to be detected.

  13. Tenchu series, root of all stealth games….

  14. Least they got #1 correct, The Dark Project is on the “mount rushmore” of video games… and YES Assassins Creed, Hitman, Elder Scrolls, Dishonored, Arkaham Asylum… they all stand on the shoulders of what the first Thief game created.

  15. This list is pretty good, but I still miss the Tenchu series. I remember trying to complete every mission without being spotted.

  16. Tenchu & Manhunt.

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