Not all of us are Doomguy, ready to walk into a room full of assassin demons with a shotgun and send them back to Hell. Some of us, instead, prefer to exist in the shadows, finding creative ways to avoid conflict or defeat enemies before they even realize we’re there. Fortunately, there have been plenty of fantastic stealth games released over the years that offer just that, often with their own unique twists like supernatural abilities or high-tech gear.
For the best stealth games of all time (in no particular order), we looked at several decades of potential additions, from the pure, classic stealth of early Splinter Cell games to the chaotic creative stealth of Hitman. If you’re in the mood to be sneaky, definitely check out these games.
Equal parts of Bioshock and Thief, but without looking like an imitation of either, Arkane’s Dishonored is a tremendous stealth game because it encourages experimentation. Not only can you go through the game with non-lethal strategies, you can also wreak havoc and mass destruction without ever having to reveal your own position. Transforming into a rat, moving into a hidden position, and then sending a swarm of bloodthirsty rats to devour a nearby guard will never be a joy, and exploring every nook and cranny of Dunwall is half the fun. .
Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory
The third game in the Splinter Cell series – released just three years after the first – Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, however, managed to take stealth espionage to the next level. A new hacking minigame has given Sam Fisher yet another way to attack his enemies without firing weapons, with access to files and building systems hidden behind lines of code. Sam’s knife and customizable gear set allow different types of players to experiment and develop their perfect gear, and the visuals are better than ever. Spies vs. Mercs and a co-op campaign were also included, cementing Chaos Theory as one of the best games of all time with the Clancy name.
Splinter Cell Blacklist
Released after a long hiatus, Splinter Cell Blacklist feels like a combination of Chaos Theory’s classic stealth honed and Conviction’s more aggressive stealth action. With three distinct playstyles called Ghost, Panther and Assault, there’s a way to tackle every objective no matter how much stealth experience you have, and the enhanced Mark & Execute skill lets Sam Fisher operate as an agent of death relentlessly. efficient. It’s streamlined and faster than previous games, which isn’t for everyone, but Blacklist is a prime example of how stealth games don’t have to move at a snail’s pace to still be stealth games.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Metal Gear Solid games pioneered the modern stealth genre, but… they didn’t always play so well, especially early ones. With Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, that changed dramatically. One of the best stealth games of all time, The Phantom Pain borders the immersive simulator with its in-world narrative, and its emergent gameplay structure lets you feel like the Big Boss on a mission, gathering information instead. of having given them to you at key points. Capturing enemies to add to your army and making use of important companions further enhances your abilities, and the only real limit to what you can do on a mission is your imagination.
Stealth isn’t just limited to 3D games, and Klei proved it in a big way with Mark of the Ninja. A cartoonish Saturday morning aesthetic is a perfect fit for this surprisingly hardcore stealth game, which requires excellent timing and careful planning to avoid detection and eliminate enemies. However, it’s far from overwhelming, serving as a great starting point for newcomers to stealth and a great change of pace for those more used to the realistic visuals of so many other stealth games. Plus, who doesn’t love to stab guys in the chest like a ninja?
No stealth series embraces the absurdity more than Hitman, and IO Interactive has delved into this especially for Hitman 3. Like its two recent predecessors, Hitman 3 features multiple open-ended levels with objectives that you can tackle in virtually any order – and in dozens of ways. different ways. Sure, you can walk up to your target and put a silenced pistol in their skull, but why do that when you can accidentally kill them all through a botched photo shoot? In a series that once allowed you to eject someone from a fighter jet a thousand feet in the air instead of just shooting them, it’s always better to think outside the box.
Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood
The Assassin’s Creed series has taken on a few different forms over the years, from the original’s simple social stealth gameplay to the full-on Odyssey and Valhalla RPG. In Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood, Ubisoft really took it a step further by offering smooth, polished stealth – often intertwined with direct combat – and the titular Brotherhood system. Rather than conquering a mission alone, the game lets Ezio use his recruits to assassinate targets – taking out his main enemy while his friends jump off the roof and take out the guards is a joy, and very few stealth games have copied it since.
Sly Cooper and the Thievius Raccoonus
While we picked the first game in the series for this list, we really could have picked any of the Sly Cooper games and they would have deserved it. Suitable for younger gamers – as long as you don’t mind stealing – and combining stealth elements with simple platforming, Sly Cooper is a unique series that exemplifies the PS2’s mascot days. Accompanied by his (literal) partners in crime, Sly Cooper is a master of stealth and traversal, and the game’s emphasis on direct combat stands in stark contrast to many other games of the era. It was followed by two sequels on PS2 and a third on PS3 and PS Vita, and we’re looking forward to embarking on another adventure with the cute little guy.
The last of us
It’s not a pure stealth game – there are definitely all-out action moments – The Last of Us, however, qualifies because of how well it handles its stealth moments. Whether trying to avoid a bunch of Clickers via distracting glass bottles or trying to take out bad guys without any of them noticing you’re there, The Last of Us favors smart play and avoids conflict through gunfights. This can even happen in the middle of an all-out firefight, with Joel able to escape, flank targets without them realizing he’s left, and ambush them with a gadget or two.
Some of the best stealth games blend other genres to create something that would simply be impossible in the traditional action-adventure framework. This is the case with Gunpoint, a retro-style puzzle platformer that is more about finding the solution to a problem than avoiding enemies and traps on the spot. The main way to do this is with the Crosslink tool, which allows you to change security systems for your own benefit. But just because it’s a puzzle game doesn’t mean there’s only one solution, giving you incentive to replay levels and discover the smartest ways to overcome each challenge.