There is satisfaction in clearing out an enemy area without them ever seeing you. This is what the best stealth games provide, a way for you to be a stealthy killer (or quiet knockout-er). Sure, shooting someone from afar is also considered “stealth” but sometimes you need to get up close and personal with the opponents.
There is one big advantage of stalking your prey in modern games, it’s the NPC dialog. How else would you know what the guard had to eat for lunch? Or how they wish for a nuclear winter? Or how they were just an adventurer like us? That’s right, getting close to them (not emotionally) right before stabbing them to death!
Best Stealth Games
The best stealth games are all about taking your enemies down without being seen or noticed. These games make the enemies go, “must’ve been the wind” each time you take out their friends in front of their eyes. Jokes aside, some games have pretty clever AI. The games aren’t in any particular order, but all of them have their own flavor of stealth.
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Platforms: PS3, PS4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One
We still get “The Phantom Pain” in our hearts when we know there won’t be another Metal Gear Solid made by Hideo Kojima. This long-running, legendary series made stealth cool in video games. This isn’t just a stealth game either, we can write a whole book about the crazy story Hideo Kojima made up for a videogame.
Hideo Kojima made a new graphical engine for this game called the Fox Engine. Even though the game was released back in 2015, it still holds up graphically to this day. The open-world nature of the game provided a lot of options for you to tackle missions however you choose. The stealth mechanics were refined and pushed the stealth genre forward in video games. The best thing about Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is that it keeps stealth fresh by giving you more tools to experiment with.
I don’t think there is another game that allows you to hide in the box and surprise kill enemies. That’s not all, the sandbox nature of the gameplay means that you get to slide the box downhill, smash into an enemy, and knocked them unconscious.
There are several little touches that make the game enjoyable not only in stealth but also in all-out firefights. For a fan of the stealth genre, Metal Gear Solid is one of the best stealth games ever made. We have been hearing reports about a Metal Gear Solid 3 remake, hopefully, Konami will do justice to it.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist
Release Date: August 20, 2013
Platforms: Windows, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U
It’s been 13 years since we last saw Sam Fisher. Granted, the stealth genre isn’t going to generate huge sales, but Splinter Cell has been one of the best stealth game series ever. It’s one of the first games to use dynamic lighting as a gameplay element. Want to infiltrate a building, but it’s too bright? Simply shoot the lights with a silenced gun, and you’re ready to go inside undetected.
Splinter Cell: Blacklist has you take up the role of Sam Fisher again. This time around, he is up against The Engineers, a terrorist group that is aiming to attack US interests. Sam is kitted with his trusty tactical suit and iconic night vision goggles. He is also given complete freedom to take down the terrorists and even has a plane to take him from location to location.
Sam also has access to new stealth-based gadgets. The snake cam allows you to see under doors and identify threats before putting yourself in danger. There is also a micro tri-rotor drone that is almost silent and can mark enemies from stealth.
Old favorites like the sticky shocker and close-quarter combat are back. This is not an open-world game, so most of the levels are designed around stealth, you can completely play the game without ever being seen. Splinter Cell Chaos theory is also one of the greatest in the securities, if you’re up for playing an old game, we highly recommend it.
Release Date: November 11, 2016
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One
In Dishonored 2, to play as a supernatural assassin, you have access to traditional things like a gun and a knife, but also you can teleport. Arkane Studio did a brilliant job bringing a unique world to life in this game series. The industrial design of the levels combined with vivid world-building through environmental storytelling makes this game a joy to explore.
If you love sneaking around and collecting loot, this game will bring you a lot of joy. Corvo, the protagonist from the first Dishonored game, returns with all his skills. However, you can also play as Empress Emily Kaldwin, she has her own skills, progression, and abilities, and have a unique take on the events that unfold. This makes Dishonored 2 a highly replayable game.
Speaking of replayability, you can play the game multiple times to reach different endings. The game rewards you for exploring and finding new paths through the levels. It also rewards you for not killing enemies and snaking past them without being seen.
It is one of the few games that doesn’t penalize you for being merciful and provides you with experience points simply for bypassing enemies. There is a lot of fun to be had if you decide to go the no-kill unseen route through the whole game. Hopefully, we’ll see a Dishonored 3 after Arkane is done with Redfall.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Release Date: August 23, 2016
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided doesn’t have a lot of open spaces, but it does well with the small open world it features. The world is detailed and rewards you for exploring, every nook and cranny usually has some resource or collectible for you to find. Finding alternate paths to your destination is the name of the game here, especially if you want to be stealthy.
There are a ton of stealth-based tools at your disposal here. The protagonist, Adam Jensen, is an enhanced human being with cybernetic implants that are called augmentations in the game. You can hide behind the cover, do silent takedowns, and even have plenty of non-lethal methods to take down enemies.
Adam is also capable of moving and hiding bodies. This allows him to be stealthy and gain extra experience points upon exiting a level. The sneaking experience is great in the first person, but the game moves to the third person when Adam hides behind the cover. This gives you a better look around corners and helps plan your moves. Overall, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a tightly packed game with semi-open levels to play through. You’ll have a lot of fun trying to clear out areas in a no-kill, unseen playthrough.
Thief 2: The Metal Age
Release Date: March 21, 2000
Yes, we are not including the Thief reboot on our best stealth games list. It’s important that we never mention the reboot and pretend it never happened. If we go back in time to 2000, Thief 2: The Metal Age was the pinnacle of stealth games. While its graphics look naturally dated, the stealth-based gameplay is still one of the best.
If you can see past the jagged polygons of the game and low-res textures, there is a sweet stealth game to be played here. The game focuses on urban stealth and tones down the mazes and monsters. You play as Garrett, a thief that is into…stealing stuff from people. You’ll not only need to remain unseen but also unheard in this game to completely avoid detection.
The game features 15 different missions that take place on semi-open world levels. You are given the option of taking out the guards however you see fit. You can knock them unconscious or straight up murder them with a bow. Pick up their lifeless bodies and hide them from their friends. You also have access to water arrows, which are used to douse lights. Where do you think Splinter Cell got the “make your own shadows” gameplay idea from? That’s right, from Thief.
The Last of Us Part 2
Release Date: June 19, 2020
There is a lot to say about The Last of Us Part 2 and its amazing story and graphics. However, the game also featured some of the best stealth-based gameplay we’ve seen in years. Ellie is on a long journey and along the way has to fight not only zombies but also hostile humans. In this overgrown post-apocalyptic world, her mission takes her from the mountains of Jackson to the ruins of Seattle and beyond.
The gameplay mechanics have some of the best animations in a video game ever. The motion-captured animations blend together to provide a realistic experience. Unlike other protagonists of stealth games, Ellie has to use every tactic at her disposal to overcome great odds. You can hide in the bushes and ambush unsuspecting enemies. Or use the trusty bow to take down foes from afar.
The Last of Us Part 2 also features some of the best enemy AI. If they see a friend die, they are going to yell out their name and continue to hunt you down. That’s right, there are no “must’ve been the wind” scenarios here, and the enemies won’t stop looking for you. The melee combat is brutal as well and sometimes takes realism a bit far. Enemies also beg for their lives if injured and will attack you when you turn your back on them. It’s a must-play game for fans of the stealth genre and PlayStation.
Release Date: October 6, 2014
Platforms: PS3, PS4, Windows, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Linux, OS X, Nintendo Switch, Luna, Android, iOS
If you are looking for a stealth-based horror game that delivers dread unlike any other game, then Alien: Isolation is the one for you. The game lets you play as Amanda, Ellen Ripley’s daughter, as she tries to survive a predator alien. Amanda is on a mission to uncover her mother’s mysterious disappearance, and what she finds is truly horrific.
The game sends you in with no resources or weapons to be on the offensive. So your only option is to be stealthy, gather resources, and try to survive the alien that is hell-bent on killing you. The game features amazing AI that always keeps you on your toes. The gameplay is dynamic, and the alien is smart, it will come for you no matter what.
Hacking systems and scavenging for resources becomes doubly tense when you know a monster is always on the way. The game takes place in a well-designed but claustrophobic decommissioned trading space station, so there is no escape unless you take care of the alien. Move around slowly and try to avoid the alien in this amazingly atmospheric stealth horror game.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Release Date: October 23, 2015
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Windows, Luna.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate was the last game in the series to have slick-looking stealth. The new RPG-fantasy-focused Assassin’s Creeds are great open-world games with some stealth thrown in, but it’s not the same as jumping off a roof and doing double assassinations. The game had some of the best graphics at the time, and the parkour had incredibly smooth animations.
The game takes place in Industrial London, so you get to see some famous landmarks. You can climb up Big Ben in this one. The game also had some slick moves like moving from vehicles, hijacking carriages, or riding steamboats.
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate has two assassins and siblings as playable characters. Jacob and Evie Frye are both great at stealth and can be kitted out to take enemies without being seen. Your main goal is to take over the city and bring betterment to the life of the common folks. While the stealth elements are a little basic, the urban open world and parkour make this stealth game special.
Mark of the Ninja
Release Date: September 7, 2012
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows, Linux, macOS
Mark of the Ninja is the only 2D side-scrolling stealth game on the list. It is also one of the best stealth games that you can play on almost every platform, from Nintendo Switch to macOS. Despite being a 2D game, it is a full-fledged stealth-based platformer. You can choose to kill everyone that’s in your way or be unseen and merciful.
The agile and silent ninja is marked with tattoos that provide the player with heightened senses and fast reflexes. You can choose to be an invisible ghost or a ruthless assassin in the game. There are new tools and techniques to be obtained in the game that open up even more options.
Each level in the game has score challenges, optional objectives to complete, and hidden collectibles to discover. More items and abilities are unlocked as you go. The game encourages you to replay it, and to be fair, you’d love to dive into this game again with the New Game Plus. Overall, Mark of the Ninja is a beautiful game with stunning animation and equally great hand-painted environments.
Release Date: January 20, 2021
Platforms: PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X and Series S, Windows
The third installment in the critically acclaimed Hitman reboot is the best one yet. IO Interactive kept what made the Hitman series a hit and delivered a final chapter that is both expansive and impressive. Right from the get-go, Hitman 3 aims to impress with its open levels and stellar stealth-based gameplay. You can go wild too, but to get the best ratings, you need to be unseen, unheard, and yet still kill all your targets.
The levels in the game are like puzzles, which makes it rewarding to replay a level multiple times. There are so many ways for you to kill your targets, too. Sure, you can use your iconic silenced pistols to take them out or a long-range sniper rifle, but what’s the fun in that? There are assassination challenges to take in each level as well, for example, the first level has 14.
There are multiple ways to complete your mission as well. Talking about the first level, you can use a wire to strangle your target, or send them flying off the skyscraper, poison them, poison AND drown them in a toilet, and the list goes on. Changing disguises and sneaking past every security measure to get to your target is immensely satisfying. Each level is a puzzle, a puzzle of murder if you will.
Batman: Arkham Knight
Release Date: June 23, 2015
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One
Rocksteady’s last Batman game, Batman Arkham Knight, ended the trilogy nicely. The Arkham series is regarded as one of the best superhero game franchises ever, and for good reason. The team really nailed down the feeling of playing as the world’s best detective and smartest man in the room. The Late Kevin Conroy bought such gravitas to the character and really immersed the players in the story.
Batman is known for his stealthy ways. Whether he is taking down the bad guys from the shadows or ghosting his allies while they are still talking, Batman is the best at stealth. Batman: Arkham Knight further showcases his ability to clear a room without ever being seen. The game gives you plenty of opportunities to take down enemies from the dark.
There are conveniently placed grapple points, perches, vents, and floor vents in the game that allow you to pull off incredible stealth runs. Then there are tools that help him take down enemies from afar. The gel mines are excellent at taking out a few enemies as well.
Batman holds his own if your stealth goes wrong too, the almost ballet-like fighting moves dispose off enemies fast. It’s a must-play game for the fans of stealth and comic books, just don’t go mad doing all the Riddler challenges.
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4, Windows, iOS, Linux, macOS
Invisible, Inc. is a turn-based spy game that brings a lot of new gameplay elements to the stealth table. For one, with each move, your agents make in a level, the enemy’s alert status increases. This in turn puts pressure on you to get stuff done fast and quietly. The longer it takes you to pull off your objective, the more enemies will be alerted and ready.
The thing is, you don’t know where your objective is. This is the beauty of Invisible, Inc. There is also a “power” resource that you have to manage, each character has a different way of generating it. Speaking of, you’ll be able to eventually unlock 10 different characters in the game. They all have their own strengths. Agent Maria for example is the hacking expert, while Agent Alex has augmentation slots to have 6 different enhancements.
The game also gives you the option of going non-lethal. Killing enemies uses ammo, which is already scarce and limited. Doing non-lethal kills is clean and won’t result in any “clean up” fees. There is also a randomness to the game, what gear is available is totally random, keeping you on your toes.
Release Date: September 14, 2021
Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series X, and Series S, Windows, Xbox Cloud Gaming
Deathloop is another Arkane game and the last on the PlayStation platform. As its name suggests, it’s about a death loop. The game resets to the start when the protagonist dies, and you have to collect weapons and upgrades all over again. The main goal of the game is to break the cycle and end the loop by killing key visionaries on an island.
The gameplay involves a lot of stealth. While it isn’t necessary to sneak around, it can certainly help you navigate the areas without alerting all the enemies. There is a short-range teleport that can aid you in avoiding enemy patrols altogether by sticking to the roofs. There is also a double jump that comes in handy while exploring.
Additionally, there are multiple ways for you to kill off the visionaries in the game. Deathloop does a little handholding in telling you all the creative ways you can dispose of the targets. The game is a blast to play while sneaking and has several great weapons equipped with silencers to aid you in your stealthy ways.
Styx: Shards of Darkness
Release Date: March 14, 2017
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Windows
Styx: Shards of Darkness lets you play as a murderous yet stealthy goblin. We don’t think there is another game that lets you do this, so Styx: Shards of Darkness gets extra points for that. The game tasks you with either sneaking past enemies or outright assassinating them with plenty of stealth-based killing tools.
Styx: Shards of Darkness has some well-designed open levels that allow for creativity and freedom when sneaking. The levels are surprisingly vertical as well, letting you climb and do air assassinations. Killing enemies and completing objectives net you experience points. You can slot those earned points in either assassination, infiltration, or magic categories.
Learning new skills and abilities as you go and killing enemies is the name of the game. Exploration is also encouraged and usually nets you nifty rewards for your efforts. There is also light crafting involved here, letting you make traps and usable items. You can even play the game in co-op, which is truly another exciting experience, especially as you can get the game at a discount most of the time.
A Plague Tale: Requiem
Release Date: October 18, 2022
Platforms: PS5, Xbox Series X, and Series S, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Xbox Cloud Gaming
A Plague Tale: Requiem is a direct sequel to A Plague Tale: Innocence and follows Amicia and Huge as they travel to far-off lands. Amicia is now better at using stealth-based skills, but she is still no match for armor-clad soldiers and enemies. So stealth and playing smart are vital to her survival.
The siblings can hide in shadows and tall foliage, sneak around, and even attack unaware enemies this time around. The human enemies are hard to take down, but the game becomes a whole other beast when the plague rats are introduced to the mix.
The rats are perhaps the main character of A Plague Tale: Requiem. They are a sea of vermin and can take down cities with astounding speed. The game is a spectacle at times and will make you pause to see the macabre beauty of the world. The stealth is good, but nothing groundbreaking. However, the story and characters will make you care for them and make sure they reach a good end.
These were some of the best stealth games to sneak around. We didn’t include any franchises that have stealth as an added gameplay feature. Games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Far Cry series. Both have excellent stealth but aren’t focused on it, stealth is viable but not the main feature. The same goes for the excellent Tomb Raider reboot trilogy, great games that have some flavors of stealth.
What are your favorite stealth games? We are hoping for a full-blown Tenchu reboot and are excited about the recently announced Splinter Cell remake. Do tell us your sneaky stories in the comments!