More suspenseful than horror and just as nerve-wracking as shooters, here are the 10 best stealth games of all time to test your sneakiness.
Swift as the wind, gentle as the forest, fierce as fire, and as unshakable as the mountain. If you made an educated guess that a Japan-created title with ninjas gave birth to stealth games, you’d almost be right. In 1979, it was actually Manbiki Shounen (Shoplifting Boy) became the first of its kind.
Thankfully, this didn’t spawn a genre of games themed around shoplifting. It’s the assassins, ninjas, and spies that became our heroes – ethically not much better we suppose, but absolutely cooler. The genre has grown by leaps and bounds with each new iteration.
Here are the 10 best stealth games ever released – keep in mind each title is listed in alphabetical order and each franchise only gets one entry (trust me, you don’t want to see Metal Gear pop up ten times).
Although Among Us is marketed as a party game, this title has every element of the best stealth games. When playing as an impostor, you essentially become an assassin, ninja, and spy rolled into one.
As you’re killing your crewmates in cold blood, sneaking through vents, and sabotaging facilities as a supposed ally, it’s hard to say that Among Us isn’t a stealth game.
This 2020 crowdpleaser takes the stealth genre to the next level. After all, you get to lie and deceive real humans over the in-game chat. Best of all, Among Us is absolutely free on mobile device. The PC version of this space-themed stealth game is also available off Steam for $7.50.
The beauty of Assassin’s Creed is how each game blends history and fiction, boasting deep story-telling in addition to its action/stealth gameplay. Spawning countless spin-offs and adaptations, Assassin’s Creed has become one of Ubisoft’s flagship titles, with each new game building upon the established genre.
For instance, the upcoming Assassin’s Creed Valhalla makes full use of next-gen systems, adding even more action-adventure elements. The cinematics give off hints of Dark Souls or The Witcher 3, featuring epic boss battles within a beautiful open world.
Although the stealth aspect becomes more of a sub-genre, it’s always interesting seeing how flexible this series can be.
Speaking of mixing up the genres, it’s time for Dishonored. This entry blends stealth with the occult, giving players access to a handful of useful spells and tricks up their virtual sleeves.
The decision-making process affects both the gameplay and the story; by choosing who lives and who dies, you get to decide how dark or bright the game becomes. This non-linear progression has charmed fans with its high degree of immersion and freedom.
Hitting the scene in 2012, the Dishonored franchise continued its legacy in 2016 and 2017 with two sequels. Despite adding more supernatural elements, the games stay fairly true to their stealth-based origins – I guess having a bit of magic doesn’t make us any less of an assassin.
Ghost of Tsushima
Often compared to western knights, it’s worth noting that these samurai aren’t fully clad in armour. Why? Stealth and mobility, of course. Regarded as one of the best action-adventure games of 2020, many Ghost of Tsushima players often forget the stealth route in pursuit of the way of the samurai.
However, the game comes with ghost skills and sneaking abilities, allowing players to complete the game as an almost invisible, terror-inducing phantom.
It’s time to replace hidden blades with some tech. Hitman is one of the pure stealth games, doing the genre a brilliant tribute to its roots. Playing as the perfect assassin, Agent 47 is given weapons and tools to kill, disguise, and distract.
Although the story can be a little one-dimensional, you’ve got to love how it dips into modern history and even replicates missions based off real hitmen.
Each mission forces the player to kill their target in a cool, classy manner. With high margins for error, one must calculate and execute their plan perfectly. Hitman doesn’t play like an action-shooter; it proves that the stealth genre alone is enough to draw in fans. Stay tuned for the upcoming Hitman 3.
This is arguably the series that pioneered and defined the genre. It’s got a bit of sci-fi and there’s traces of some offbeat humour, but its revolutionary action-stealth gameplay and cinematics are what sucked fans in.
Mixing stealthy camouflage with combat, Metal Gear gave birth to one of the greatest categories in video gaming history. Each entry could be hailed as one of the best stealth games ever, by nothing but their own merit.
Metal Gear V: The Phantom Pain is the 2015 title that left the strongest impression, the final masterpiece by renowned director Hideki Kojima. Ever since the departure of their lead designer, it’s quite unlikely that we would ever get another title just as good as the old ones. We encourage anyone who wasn’t already to check out The Phantom Pain.
Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell was Ubisoft’s answer to the stealth-shooter legacy created by Metal Gear. Whilst some may call it a rip-off, many would agree that the series that defined itself. After all, it did spawn its own Netflix series.
Similar to Metal Gear, the game puts heavy emphasis on military tactics and stealth kills. But beyond that, light and darkness play a key role, using shadows for concealment and night vision for sight.
With Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell on Ubisoft’s side, the flagship franchises made the studio an authoritative figure for the action-stealth genre, challenging the masterful works left by Kojima. Many veteran gamers will hold dear memories of nostalgic Splinter Cell series. If not, we encourage you to check it out.
The Last of Us
This two-part, story-driven franchise took the world by storm with writers that put Hollywood dramas to shame. Touching upon sensitive social issues and jerking tears with A-grade voice acting, people flocked towards buying The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part II without even considering the gameplay.
Well, the gameplay is also pretty damn flawless. When fighting against cannibalistic clickers, being stealthy is your best bet. Unless you want to die – a lot.
Read our review of The Last of Us Part II here.
Untitled Goose Game
As if by complete contrast, Untitled Goose Game falls into a completely separate category of the stealth genre. Forget having a compelling storyline or spine-chilling gameplay, it’s time for a goofy puzzle game.
Inspired by the puzzles of Super Mario 64 and the stealth aspects of the Hitman series, this is a game about a cold, calculating goose set on terrorising humans.
Released in 2019 as a bit of a meme, this indie title soon topped the Steam and Nintendo Switch e-store charts. It’s more than just a joke – this is a polished stealth game we encourage everyone to at least check out.
A call-back to the retro, this is a stealth-based game that didn’t hit its stride until the peak of Metal Gear where the genre had gained popularity. The 1981 Castle Wolfenstein had an emphasis on avoiding detection in this ambitious (at the time) mix of stealth and action.
You could disguise yourself using uniforms or take out enemies with guns and explosives — this game had the basic components of a stealth-shooter before the genre even took off.
The Wolfenstein series has become more of a cult classic, transcending throughout the ages with countless developers and producers maintaining the Wolfenstein legacy.