Stealth video games provide a nice counterbalance to the guns-blazing style of most shooter games. They're a methodical and silent approach to video games - almost like a puzzle - and have given the video game industry a fresh new perspective since they got introduced. Suffice to say, stealth games are not about to go away anytime soon. This decade is filled with many interesting and award-winning stealth games.
Some of them are revivals of old titles while some are fresh faces and challengers to the genre. To prove a point that sneaking up on a hapless guard and choking out the blood to his brain is still an interesting gameplay loop, here are 10 of the best stealth video games the 2010s gave us; these definitely didn't enter the industry quietly.
10 ASSASSIN'S CREED IV: BLACK FLAG (88)
2014 was a time when Ubisoft was already running out of ideas for the next Assassin's Creed game after having milked three games with Ezio Auditore as a protagonist and tapping into the American Revolution as a setting. They needed something new, and Black Flag presented itself on the horizon as Assassin's Creed but with pirates instead of just assassins.
With Black Flag, Assassin's Creed forever changed and the players were introduced to the exhilaration of naval traversal and combat which, while also present in Assassin's Creed III, was never this detailed. It was a formula to be replicated again in some of the more innovative Assassin's Creed games today, particularly Assassin's Creed: Odyssey. Surprisingly, pirates and assassins go well together.
9 DISHONORED 2 (88)
The Dishonored games have always had deceptively simple stealth gameplay but then you find out that certain skill combinations allow you to be more stylish than a Metal Gear character, and without cutscenes! Dishonored 2 shakes that formula up by having two playable characters, the original one, Corvo, and his daughter, Emily, as the two manage to uncover yet again another royal usurper scheme.
Armed with their blades and rooftop-jumping know-how...and with a little bit of weird magic, the two of them set out to fix their status and return what was stolen from them: The throne. Since it's the sequel, you can expect Dishonored 2 to have a similar yet more beautiful oil-painting art style and graphics which the fans grew to know and love.
8 METAL GEAR SOLID: PEACE WALKER (89)
Speaking of Metal Gear Solid, you just can't mention stealth without thinking of that title. So, here's its first entry on this list: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. It's a 2010 game released on the PSP and later remastered and released on the PS3 because it's so good and significant to the Metal Gear timeline to miss by not having a PSP.
Peace Walker showcased the usual Metal Gear Solid gameplay loop that is story-driven but instead of being saturated in cutscenes, Peace Walker presented the story through comic-book animations. It's also the game that introduced the mother-base system to the franchise where players can kidnap soldiers in the field to level-up your mother-base and even upgrade their weapons.
7 DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION (90)
There aren't many cyberpunk films just as there aren't many cyberpunk games; however, when they do appear from time to time, they tend to be masterpieces. Deus Ex: Human Revolution is just that and it marks an interesting start of the decade as a showcase of what's to come for the cyberpunk genre in gaming. It's a prequel to the highly-acclaimed Deus Ex from the year 2000.
Human Revolution follows the story of Adam Jensen as his investigation turns into a world-spanning multinational corporate plot to take over the world in the most dubious way possible. Stealth, for that matter, is one of the two overarching ways to play Deus Ex: Human Revolution and it requires hacking, sneaking, and interrogating your way around the neon gold gameworld...or you could just shoot everyone, your call.
6 ASSASSIN'S CREED: BROTHERHOOD (90)
Assassin's Creed reached its peak formula with this game, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. It's a sequel to the well-received Assassin's Creed II and aimed to fix many of the issues of its predecessors. As such, Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood turned out to be one of the smoothest and most enjoyable Assassin's Creed experiences in the franchise.
It introduced an older and more experienced Ezio Auditore who's just rebuilding the Assassin Order while waging war against Cesare Borgia, the local tyrant whose connections with the Pope (his father) pretty much secured his claim to the Italian throne. For that matter, this has one of the most compelling stories and plot among all the Assassin's Creed games along with a competitive villain to boot.
5 MARK OF THE NINJA (91)
The title says it all; it's a game where you can prowl around as your favorite stealth assassin from Japan, a ninja. Mark of the Ninja is a hidden gem from 2012 but deserves all the spotlight it can have. It was everything that's good with the stealth genre: Hiding and blending in with the environment, using your sword to backstab enemy guards, and parkouring around stealthily to avoid an army on your back.
The fact that all of this is done in a 2D-sidescroller makes it even more impressive. Don't let the cartoonish 2D graphics put you off either, Mark of the Ninja is a tense and violent game where your character opts to use swords and throwing knives against the enemies' modern guns because they're hardcore.
4 BATMAN: ARKHAM CITY (91)
Speaking of ninjas, here is another unconventional entry in the form of Batman in his award-winning 2011 game, Batman: Arkham City. It's a sequel to the highly-praised Batman: Arkham Asylum which pits the Dark Knight against a prison full of his rioting rogues gallery. This time around, that prison turns into a city block, because Batman just can't catch a break.
In any case, stealth is a huge component of this video game as it allows Batman to take on thugs armed with guns and many other lethal weapons. The way Batman seamlessly weaves in and out of the shadows and in the environmental geometry is sure to make any Bat-fan giggle with excitement.
3 DISHONORED (91)
The first Dishonored laid the foundations for an even more fleshed out sequel. Back in its heyday, there was nothing quite like it. A stealth game with magic at your disposal in the midst of a steampunk world afflicted with a plague, it was world-building on steroids but worked well to make Dishonored's game world feel alive.
This time around, only one character is playable, Corvo, who was wrongly accused of murdering the Empress when in fact, there was a plot to usurp the throne and kidnap the heir. Corvo, being the only person who knew of the truth, now has to solve the regicide plot by himself in order to restore honor to his name and save the Empress' daughter.
2 THE LAST OF US (95)
Surprisingly, not many games have combined the zombie apocalypse genre with stealth, or they end up being unsuccessful with it. That's why The Last of Us is truly a special experience. It's a post-apocalypse survival game where you'll be forced to move stealthily around in order to survive since the characters you control are not exactly invincible survivalists.
It's more than just a mere survival game with stealth mechanics, however. The Last of Us intersperses its tense survival situations with meaningful and heartfelt character interactions that will surely draw a tear or two from your foggy eyes. Hopefully, its sequel, coming this year, is also of the same or better caliber.
1 METAL GEAR SOLID V: THE PHANTOM PAIN (95)
Here we are, quite possibly the best stealth game ever made, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. When it comes to stealth gameplay mechanics, The Phantom Pain spares no expense and gives you everything from old tricks in the book like hanging from the side of your rocket-powered detachable arms.
Stealth in this game is all about testing the user's creativity and resourcefulness, as it is even possible to go through missions without killing enemy grunts. To complement such a wild stealth system, the A.I. was also made smarter and more reactive here. All those systems come together and easily make The Phantom Pain the best stealth game released during this decade, even if it doesn't feel complete at times.
NetEase called it a bug, but others called it a feature.