Death to Spies is a World War II era Stealth-Based Game where you play as Semyon Strogov, a Russian counterintelligence operative carrying out a series of covert missions against the Nazi troops. The game can in theory be completed through wholly-violent and stealth routes, and a large amount of weaponry can be taken with the player at the start. In practice, the guns-out routine is nigh-impossible due to the realistically large number of well-armed soldiers on every base you come across, and though still difficult, stealth is the way the game is meant to be played. It's also notable for its very large, non-linear levels.
The game had a sequel, Death to Spies: Moment of Truth, which expanded the player's arsenal and means of performing assassinations, and cleaned up various shortcomings of the original. In 2014, the developers attempted an unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign to obtain funding for the third game. Eventually they managed to fund the game, and they renamed Death to Spies 3 to Alekhine's Gun, which takes place in the Cold War.
This game provides examples of:
- The All-Seeing A.I.: If you're in their field of view, certain enemies clearly see through an initial disguise, and these tend to cluster around routes you normally need to go through. The only way to minimize the number of suspicious individuals is to find an officer's uniform, which is only seen through by a small number of individuals. This is corrected in Moment of Truth, where enemies get suspicious but are not hyperactive about it.
- If you are driving a truck, enemies can see you from any angle within their field of view, even if they wouldn't be able to see the driver.
- Back Stab: Get up close to an enemy from behind and you can perform a One-Hit Kill (or one-hit-knockout) with various tools or your bare hands:
- With a knife you can do a plain old backstab. It's the quickest variety of one-hit-kill that is silent, but it also prevents you from taking your victim's clothes.
- With your bare hands you can perform a non-lethal Tap on the Head. It's quick and it requires no equipment but it's noisy.
- A choke cord (better known as a garrote or piano wire) is lethal and silent; unlike the knife, it doesn't ruin the victim's clothes but it takes longer to kill with the choke cord.
- Chloroform is non-lethal and silent, but it takes as long as the choke cord, and it has a limited number of uses.
- The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: You can throw your knives for a short ranged, quiet but not silent kill.
- Crouch and Prone: Used to reduce visibility, but not otherwise special. If there are enemies seeing you while sneaking on the other hand, they may get suspicious. There's also a "sneak" stance which lets you move silently at a very slow pace.
- Dressing as the Enemy: The main form of stealth used in the game, although enemies tend to see right through initial disguises. Moment of Truth corrects the hyperactive guards, provides different disguise classes (where civilian clothes can be less suspicious in some cases compared to officer's clothes) and also adds a difficulty setting that makes it impossible to take clothes from fallen enemies. In other difficulties, shooting or stabbing somebody usually makes it impossible to take their clothes.
- Enemy-Detecting Radar: The overhead map shows the position of each person, the direction they're facing, and their field of view (in some situations). It also describes their suspicion, where green guards allowing you past, yellow being suspicious of you, and red being hyperactive.
- Falling Chandelier of Doom: In mission White Head, where a chandelier is held up by a rope that's tied to the wall. Cutting or shooting the rope will have it crash onto the sofa below, where the defector sometimes rests. Other missions include variants, where you can drop a torpedo or a boat from above.
- It's Probably Nothing: While minor noises can be dismissed if the guard sees nothing happened, anything significant (such as hearing gunfire or seeing a dead body) causes forces the guard to become alert, and remain like that for the rest of the mission.
- The Guards Must Be Crazy: Played with, in the first game the enemies that can spot suspicious are quite hyperactive. Toned down in the sequel where the enemy will be suspicious for a while before attacking unless they spot you performing suspicious actions in which case they will attack immediately. If someone trip the alarm, the enemies will become more alert and patrol more aggressively. Also notable that the enemies in the game are able to recognize the weapon you are carrying instead of just the clothing, so walking around with an Allied firearm around Germans while disguised is not a good idea, likewise carrying a sniper rifle(even a German one) while dressed as a trooper or officer will draw some attention. Carrying a long weapon while dressed as a civilian will almost immediately alert the enemy.
- Laxative Prank: In the first Moment of Truth mission, used to get the guards away from an AA gun when they periodically eat from some stew. They run to the infirmary, but revert to normal combat behavior should they detect combat or suspicious activity.
- Locked Door: You can normally pick locks, but certain locks (normally safes) may only be opened with the necessary key.
- No-Gear Level: The three missions that take place in Allied territory (outside of the training level) don't let you select your equipment; instead, you get a few of the usual close combat weapons and lockpicks. While one level generously starts you off with a silenced pistol, the other two levels leave the pistol in some out-of-the-way location.
- One Bullet Clips: Averted: each magazine's ammunition is individually tracked in the game. When you reload a weapon with an external magazine (e.g. an MP40), Strogov drops the mag, but if it has any rounds remaining then you can pick it back up and use it later, and it'll still have the same ammo count if you load your weapon with it.
- Pillow Pistol: In a cutscene, Strogov receives the Order of the Red Banner and his reaction is to stuff his Tokarev under his pillow.
- Score Screen: You get a percentage for several traits you displayed (or didn't display) during the mission, which seems to add up to the Scoring Points. You get to see your clear time and your rating, with "Wolfhound" being the best rating.
- Timed Mission: Certain missions, such as Lightning from Moment of Truth have time limits that may trigger. This mission, for example, gives 50 minutes to complete other objectives once you destroy the radar, and also gives you 30 minutes to reach a rally point once you call the squad.