Stealth games come in different varieties, and each introduces a distinct way of playing. However, one constant theme throughout is that you are heavily outnumbered. The only way to even the odds is to think your strategy through; should you wait for the enemy to be in a more favorable position before you make the shot? Should you move in for a melee kill or take him out from afar, or do you even need to kill the hostile in the first place? These are the questions you will ponder about as you play through these games.
10 – Sniper Elite 4
Sniper Elite 4 puts you in the boots of expert marksman Karl Fairburne, charged with thwarting the German aggression during WW2. Not only is it a visual spectacle, but the gameplay is thoroughly enjoyable as well. You can load your trusty sniper rifle with suppressed ammo to prevent your position from being discovered by hostiles. Alternatively, you can time non-suppressed shots by paying close attention to the environment because often, there will be activity in the area loud enough to mask the sound of your shot. When you are low on ammo, you can get up close to hostiles to stealthily execute them with your knife. This often triggers a satisfying x-ray camera view as you slice through their vital organs.
A sniper is often a one-man army, and Sniper Elite 4 succeeds in making you feel like one. Its exciting stealth gameplay along with brilliant level design more than covers for its flawed narrative.
9 – Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag
Black Flag is widely regarded as one of the best in the series, and for good reason. The story follows the adventure of pirate Edward Kenway in the Caribbean Seas. Like all Assassin’s Creed games, a significant portion of the game revolves around stealth, where you have to enter a restricted area crawling with guards. As Edward, you can sneak past them, stab them with your hidden blades, seek cover in the haystacks, and assassinate them from above in glorious fashion to achieve your objectives.
The game has a powerful narrative and exciting side quests, including hunting, searching for rare artifacts, and collecting bounties. Of course, the incredible parkour – a staple of the Assassin’s Creed series – is a large part of what makes the game so fun. For me, Black Flag is the best in the Assassins Creed series, which has declined steadily since then.
8 – The Last of Us
The Last of Us follows the story of Joel and Ellie as they seek refuge from the deadly fungus turning the entire population into brain-dead deformities. While the game is not necessarily from a pure stealth genre, you have the choice of playing a large portion of it stealthily. Mixing long-range kills with your bow and close-proximity knife kills will allow you to move across the terrain undetected. A stealth approach is a must against the terrifying Clickers. These are a type of the infected who have degraded to the point that they can no longer see. However, their hearing is incredibly powerful, so if you want to survive, it’s best to move slowly past them, using distractions such as throwing glass bottles to ward them off.
What really makes The Last of Us stand out is its powerful, emotional narrative, driven by a cast of memorable characters struggling to do the right thing. Decisions are rarely painted in black and white, and it’s hard to draw the line, as the game shows. Widely regarded as one of the best single-player games ever made, it’s a no-brainer to include it on this list.
7 – Outlast
There are two kinds of stealth games; type 1: where you are the predator, and the environment is your hunting ground. And type 2: where you are the one being hunted. Outlast falls into the latter category. Not only are you pursued by bloodthirsty psychopaths out to kill you, but you can’t even defend yourself in any way! Thus your two options are to run or hide. This is one of the reasons I consider Outlast to be the most terrifying game ever made, along with its intriguing narrative and horrifying characters, of course. The only companion along the way is your trusty camera, conveniently equipped with a night-vision mode. Creep around the eerie Mount Massive Asylum and be on the lookout for what lies in the shadows, for it could very well be the last thing you see.
6 – Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Secret Agent Adam Jensen is a walking supercomputer with all sorts of cool abilities. These include hacking consoles, seeing through walls with an enhanced vision, having a built-in GPS for detecting hostiles, and an uncanny ability to handle firearms at a frightening level of accuracy. Naturally, these all come in very useful for Adam’s objectives, which often involve breaking into a facility undetected. The gameplay is extremely enjoyable; for me, it is a bit faster-paced than most of the other games on this list, which makes it stand out and offer something different. The narrative is pretty good as well, making it not just a great stealth game but also an excellent title overall.
5 – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Phantom Pain is a masterclass in stealth gaming, providing you with many options to approach a given scenario. As Snake, you can switch fluidly between crouching and sprinting to make your way into an enemy base while staying out of detection. Use a wide assortment of weaponry to aid in the infiltration and take out hostiles quietly, or if you want, interrogate them to gain valuable information. The Reflex Mode is a handy addition that buys you a few seconds’ worth of time if you are spotted to quickly dispose of the threat and avoid raising the alarm. The gameplay is definitely amongst the best out there and has made Phantom Pain my favorite of the series, even if the narrative isn’t quite that engrossing.
4 – Hitman 3
Hitman is one of the most iconic franchises in gaming history. When the series was rebooted in 2016, we got to experience a unique stealth game in that it allows you to take down your targets in creative and indirect ways. You don’t necessarily have to slash their throats; instead, you should experiment with the mission Opportunities. These preset storylines allow you to discreetly terminate your targets, often making the kill look like an accident. For instance, one of the missions in Hitman 3 allows you to disguise yourself as a tour guide for the target. This tour will enable you to take the target near some pretty dangerous machinery. You can push the target into this machinery when no one is watching, thus making it look as if they fell in by accident.
Of course, no stealth game is a stealth game without an exotic assortment of weapons. You can arm Agent 47 with some dangerous firearms to help take out both targets and nontargets. I always preferred the silenced handgun, which would come in handy when I had to take out a group of enemies quickly and efficiently to prevent the situation from escalating. Other items you can carry with you include coins as a tool for distraction, emetic poison for your targets, remote explosives, and lockpicks to gain access to otherwise restricted areas.
Agent 47 is the world’s deadliest assassin, not just because he never fails but also because of the cold demeanor he carries in his empty, emotionless eyes. The Hitman trilogy succeeds in making you feel invincible, cold-blooded, and meticulous, all good attributes for a stealth game. For me, the trilogy reaches its peak with the third entry, bringing the series to a definitive ending.
3 – Batman: Arkham City
One simply cannot make a list of stealth games and not include the legendary Batman Arkham series. Although Arkham Asylum readily surpassed expectations and completely changed the ideology of superhero games, it was Arkham City where Rocksteady Studios truly created a timeless masterpiece.
While the gameplay is divided between direct combat and stealth sections, it is the latter where the game’s true strength lies. As the Caped Crusader, you are launched into a room of armed guards patrolling the area. Perched high above on the conveniently placed gargoyles, you can scan the site with your Detective Vision. You then proceed to take down the guards one by one with the Silent Takedown. Alternatively, you can use your gadgets to take them out in imaginative ways. These include disorienting a group of enemies with a smoke pellet, exploding fragile walls with your explosive gel, and stringing hostiles up to the gargoyles with the iconic Inverted Takedown. Watch in glee as the guards begin to realize that their numbers are falling, striking them with dread as they learn to fear the shadows.
Gameplay aside, the story is amongst the best I have ever played. Bruce Wayne is but one man in a super-prison full of dangerous villains such as Two-Face, the Penguin, and of course, the most iconic of them all: The Joker. Yet despite these odds, the Dark Knight will go to all lengths necessary to protect the people of Gotham. In a race against time, experience the engrossing narrative of the best superhero game ever made.
2 – Dishonored
Dishonored follows the story of Royal Protector Corvo Attano as he seeks revenge from those who wronged him. It is arguably the game with the most enjoyable gameplay on this list, primarily because of the special powers and abilities it showcases. In addition to the traditional stealth mechanic of sneaking up behind your target and quitely slitting their throat, Dishonored hands you a slew of supernatural abilities which you can mix and match to turn kills into poetry in motion. For instance, you can combine the power of bending time with teleportation to take down an entire room of enemies within a fraction of a second. Pretty cool, right?
The possibilities are endless in Dishonored. You can possess guards to infiltrate otherwise inaccessible areas, see through walls with your Dark Vision, conjure a swarm of rats to erase corpses from existence, thus preventing alarms, and so on. Combine this epic gameplay with an intriguing storyline, memorable characters, exciting side missions, and a revolutionary chaos system that determines the way your story will pan out, and you easily have not just a great stealth game but also a gaming masterpiece.
1 – Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist
While some may disagree, I genuinely believe that Splinter Cell: Blacklist is not only the best in the series but also the best stealth game ever made, at least from a purely gameplay perspective. As special agent Sam Fisher, you have access to an arsenal of futuristic gadgets and murder weapons to take out targets in every way imaginable.
While you can always charge in guns blazing, this is not how the game is meant to be played. Instead, you should first scout the environment with your sonar and night vision goggles, mark your targets, and shoot any lights to broaden your mobility. Then, sneak up and take out your targets one by one. Alternatively, you can lure them in around the corner using a decoy sound generator and neatly exterminate them. One little habit of mine was attaching a sticky camera near an enemy corpse. As another guard would come in to explore, I would trigger the camera to explode in their face. Not a pleasant way to die.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist offers you a lot of freedom in both taking down your targets and traversing through the environment. The narrative is strong as well, truly making you feel like a special agent tasked to go behind enemy lines and take them out from within. Fans are still waiting for a remaster, but in the meantime you can get the PC version from steam.
So that’s about it for my list. All these games are excellent in their own way and offer something different. Let me know in the comments if you agree with the list or not and if you think I should have included some other games instead.