In most computer games the player's character is powerful enough to mow down enemies left and right. They don't have to worry about setting alarms off, or enemy reinforcements being summoned. (True, there are occasionally levels where you have to be a bit careful, but those are specifically scripted.)
In a Stealth-Based Game
, the player's character is simply too weak to survive a head to head confrontation with his enemies most of the time. Either it's too easy to die, or you can't carry enough ammo, or there is some other reason. Just running away from enemies like in Pac-Man
isn't enough to count as a stealth-based game; you need to be actively hiding from them.
Whatever it is though, they've got to be careful, stick to the shadows, kill silently, and only when necessary. And they better hide the bodies well because someone
is going to stumble over them otherwise.
The different types of stealth used can be broken up as such, though many are often hybrids.
Games in this genre may feature Optional Stealth
, where playing it stealthily is encouraged but not strictly necessary.
A Stealth-Based Game
is to a Third Person Shooter
as a real spy is to James Bond
. The Ur Examples
of the Stealth Game genre are 005
and Castle Wolfenstein
, the Trope Makers
are Metal Gear
and Metal Gear 2
, and the Trope Codifiers
are Metal Gear Solid
, and Tenchu
For gameplay of this sort in other Videogame Genres
, see Stealth-Based Mission
Games in this genre:
- 005 - one of the first, a stealth-based spy game by Sega dating back to 1981.
- 007: From Russia with Love zigzags in and out of the genre. It's generally easier and more efficient on the on-foot levels to play it this way, but the vehicle levels are more of a blast-everything-in-sight type deal.
- Alpha Protocol allows the player to play the game this way - or play it like a traditional third-person shooter.
- Ape Escape
- The Art Of Theft
- Amnesia The Dark Descent
- Assassin's Creed series:
- Batman: Arkham Series
- Beyond Good And Evil - a mix of this and plain Action Adventure.
- Boktai contains some of this.
- Bonanza Bros - a mix of Stealth and Run & Gun Side-Scrolling Shooter elements.
- Boiling Point Road To Hell
- Call Of Cthulhu Dark Corners Of The Earth - arguably one of the best survival horror games because of this.
- Castle Wolfenstein - one of the first.
- The Classroom and its sequels, Flash games where the objective is to cheat on tests without getting caught.
- Commandos - a RTS example.
- Covert Action
- Crysis, a hybrid of this and First-Person Shooter.
- Desperados - a quality clone of Commandos.
- Deus Ex, Invisible War, and Human Revolution can be played as this or a First-Person Shooter. Using at least some stealth is usually much easier.
- Dishonored. Unlike a lot of examples, you have superpowers at your disposal to help you stay hidden. Funnily enough, none of those is invisibility like Deus Ex has.
- Far Cry, a hybrid of this and First-Person Shooter.
- Fear Effect doesn't force you to be stealthy, but it will almost certainly be preferable to attempting to use the control system in a real firefight. There are also a handful of missions where guns are not an option, and the emphasis is timing your movements to evade detection.
- Golden Eye 1997 and Golden Eye Wii (have elements of it)
- The Hidden: Source, a Half Life multiplayer mod.
- Hitman. Here the emphasis is strictly on the use of disguises and not appearing suspicious; as noted in the description, you're generally operating in a crowded area until you reach your target.
- Legacy of Kain has occasional elements (in Soul Reaver and its sequel, you can get a one-hit kill if you catch an enemy unawares), but it's most prominent in Blood Omen 2, which lets Kain turn invisible when he's in mist, and has a whole stealth kill system associated with it.
- Live A Live - the Ninja Chapter is a mix of Stealth and Role-Playing Game elements.
- Mark Of The Ninja - A rare 2D side-scrolling example.
- Messiah - Typically uses the "hidden in plain sight" type, with your character (a small cherub) possessing various people to blend in. However, on higher difficulties, you can only possess people while they have your back turned to you—this forces line-of-sight stealth to keep them from spotting you and attacking.
- Metal Gear series
- Missleman Spy Strike 2, Where half the levels are stealth based.
- Monaco: What's Yours Is Mine, a class-based Stealth-Based Game.
- Neighbours From Hell, in a manner of speaking
- Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee and Abe's Exoddus
- Oni (possible but optional)
- Operation Flashpoint, some of the time. Regular infantry assaults are usualy preceded by stealthy crawling and maneuvering towards the target.
- Perfect Dark, in many levels
- Prince of Persia, specifically, The Two Thrones; others are straight Cinematic Platformers
- The Precursors
- Robin Hood The Legend Of Sherwood (another stealth RTS in the vein of Commandos)
- Rogue Ops
- Mark of Kri and Rise of the Kasai are a mix of this and Hack And Slash. The games don't force you to be stealthy, and you're tough enough to fight your way through, but stealth is usually the prefered choice and generally makes things easier.
- Shinobido: Way of The Ninja
- Sly Cooper
- Sniper Elite
- Sniper Elite V 2 - Get to the vantage point, eliminate the target, defend your position, and get the hell out of dodge. Unlike many of these games, there's no way to take out enemies non-lethally, though there isn't much point since you're in a war zone.
- Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions - the Noir levels.
- Splinter Cell
- Spy Fiction
- Stealth Bastard
- SWAT 4 (to a minor degree)
- Syphon Filter
- System Shock
- Thief — This game pretty much launched the modern Stealth genre all on its own; it coincidentally came out around the same time as Metal Gear Solid, but unlike MGS, this game really requires stealth over combat.
- Tomb Raider (2013)
- Uncharted (has elements of it)
- Velvet Assassin