The Best Stealth Games On PC, And Why You Should Play Them
Stealth games are an exciting part of gaming, mainly because they can cross over so many genres. From big-budget action games to small indie tactics and strategy games, you can find just about any game you might want to play that also features a strong stealth mechanic at its core. They also offer a very different power fantasy than most other games. We don’t go in guns blazing, an unstoppable killing machine. Instead, we embrace the role of the sneaky assassin or spy, undetected in the shadows, almost superhuman in our ability to remain undetected by those who would seek to harm us.
Yes, there will often be combat elements in these games, but the real attraction is the idea that the developers have challenged us. They have created a moving puzzle that we must move through, and to honestly beat it; we must remain undetected. Whether you are a long time fan of the genre or someone who has been freshly seduced by the idea of becoming a living shadow, you should find something on this list of the best stealth games on PC to keep you entertained.
Best Stealth Games On PC
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun
Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun is one of the best tactical stealth games of the last decade. In it, you take on the role as a team of specialists working at the behest of the new Shogun of Japan. With different characters to play as the game is filled with play style options. The advantage of numbers will never be on your side, so stealthy recon and sticking to the shadows will be something you rapidly become comfortable with. With a beautiful environment design, a stunning atmosphere, and tense and demanding tactical gameplay, this will keep fans of isometric stealth games happy for a long time. At the higher difficulty level, this game can be punishing in the extreme, but will also be highly rewarding for those who are careful and like to think ahead.
Invisible, Inc. surprised me when it first came out. Not because it was a good game, as developers Klei Entertainment have made a habit of making good games. What surprised me was just how good it was. Games that perfectly encapsulate a genre don’t come along too often, and even then they don’t always bring something fresh to the table. Invisible, Inc. does both! You play a crack team of spies with the task of infiltrating the world’s most dangerous corporations. With ten different agents to potentially choose from, there is a lot of variation in how you can approach the game. The turn-based gameplay demands nuance, a full understanding of the game’s systems, and attention to detail. With randomly generated levels, enemies, and rewards, the game never plays the same way twice. It also has a beautiful visual flare, and a fantastic soundtrack to keep you immersed in each tense scenario you have to face. Offering genuine style and substance in the same package, this is one of the most enjoyable stealth games I have played in years.
Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive
Another game that merges isometric gameplay with demanding and punishing stealth mechanics, Desperados: Wanted Dead or Alive is considered by many to be the cream of this particular crop of games. Once again the game features an exciting and fun cast of characters, this time trying to make their way in the Wild West. The beautiful environment design still holds up today, and your ability to sneak will be just as important as the reliability of your trigger finger. Probably the best part about getting to mention this game is that Desperados 3 has been announced, and it is being made by the same dev team who brought us the excellent Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun. If it has been a while since you play this game, or if you have yet to experience the joys of sneaky through the Wild West as some nasty varmints try to take your head off, you really should jump in.
Dishonored see’s you sink into the murky depths of Dunwall, where a murder has been done, and it is your job to figure out why. Taking on the role of Corvo, you are an infamous assassin who hides behind a mask to do his evil deeds. With large and lushly detail levels for you to sneak around, a combination of strange powers to help you do it, and some particularly brutal execution animations, this is one of Bethesda’s most excellent games ever. Combing powers with any gadgets you can find in the game can lead to some fantastic emergent moments, and it can all combine to offer some genuinely next level stealthy gameplay. Chain interactions between enemies to indeed become an unseen, unstoppable killing machine, all while remaining hidden in the shadows. A stunning art style combines with incredible environment design to offer a vibrant and interesting experience.
Manhunt is a brutal and, at times, chilling game, but even after all these years it still stands up as one of Rockstar’s most exciting titles. A damning take on the idea of reality TV, Manhunt casts you as a death row inmate, thrown into a hellish maze of stealth and violence after the world thinks he has been executed. The emphasis on the need for stealth casts a cold eye of contrast on the violence that must be acted out on your enemies. Rather than just a nonstop murder spree, Manhunt becomes a wicked game of cat and mouse, extended moments of tension broken up with brutal murders and ultra-violent combat. This juxtaposition raises an otherwise potentially poor game to the level of being so much more. Often dismissed as being little more than a celebration of violence, it is my opinion that such criticism missed the point. Manhunt is such a good stealth game that it managed to sneak its damning take on modern media’s obsession with violence right past the people who should be glad to see such a message embraced in the first place.
People will argue forever about which Thief game is better, but I have put Thief: Gold on the list as a simple matter of economics. Containing the original Thief: The Dark Project and the Gold Update, which brings three new missions, five new enemy types, and a broader plot to the mix, I think it is entirely representative of why these games are on the list. I think it is safe to describe this series as a singular gaming experience, with nothing quite reaching the specific heights it hit. An absolute must play run of games; Thief offers little in the way of hand-holding. Your only option is to deeply immerse yourself into the world, climb under the skin of our sticky-fingered protagonist, and embrace the chaos.
Hitman, as a series, has had its ups and down, but 2016’s iteration of the game is one of the most excellent stealth games of all time. The sheer variety of ways that you can take out a target is incredible, the levels are rich and intensely detailed, and being spotted is just the right side of punishing. In Hitman you are supposed to be unseen, and the game gives you every opportunity to both do this and mess it up. As Agent 47, with the right disguise, you can be anyone, go anywhere. Nobody can hide from your deadly reach, and no situation can escalate to the point where you are anything but a stone cold killer. If you have ever wanted to kill someone with some spaghetti sauce, this is the game for you.
Commandos 2: Men of Courage
While many games have explored the horrors of World War 2, few games have done it in the style of Commandos 2: Men of Courage. A brutally tricky tactics game, you are always outnumbered, under-equipped, and at risk. Stealth is a must, being able to consider and plan moves steps put this game right up there with chess as something that will reward the forward thinking. You will once again be leading small teams of specialists to glory, or doom. With the ability to steal enemy uniforms, climb up poles and across cables, enter and exit buildings, and swim, there are plenty of tools here to work your way through the levels cleverly. An almost perfect blend of tactical action and stealth, this game is something everyone should experience.
The xenomorphs from the Alien series of movies are one of cinema’s most excellent monsters. Cold, calculated, and ultimately murderous, they are so terrifying because they perfectly counter all the ways that humans are weak with their strengths. Until Alien: Isolation arrived we never really had a game that thoroughly explored how terrifying they can be. You almost have zero chance of besting the alien beast in combat; your only option is to hide, run, sneak, and embrace that idea that you are the cheese at the end of a maze, and the rat is coming for you. With incredible visuals and atmosphere, a frightening power dynamic that skews in the favor or your enemy, and demanding gameplay that forces you to think quickly under intense pressure, this is a genuinely unique stealth game that embraces weakness far more than strength.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
The best of Rocksteady’s Batman series, it was also the first game I remember playing that allowed us to be the Batman. From punching faces to finding clues, we could do everything the World’s Greatest Detective could do. More than that, we could embrace the most fundamental factor of being Batman, hiding in the shadows, gaining information and formulating a plan, then carrying it out with surgical precision. While stealth is often used to indicate frailty, in Batman: Arkham Asylum it is instead used to make us feel powerful. We become the creature in the dark that others fear. The amount of fun that comes from stalking terrified henchmen around a room is enough to make you wonder how Bruce Wayne ever resisted the urge to go full-on psychopath.
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