Discretion is the better part of valour, they say – and who is “they”, exactly? You wouldn’t know, because you didn’t see them coming and, oh look at you, there’s a poison dart in your neck and you’re already dead. Or maybe just incapacitated. It depends on the achievements, really.
Like everybody else, I’ve been clocking time in the dark with Arkane’s sneak-’em-up Dishonored – but the stealth genre crawls through the ducts all the way back to 1981, when Muse Software launched Castle Wolfenstein, a game that had players impersonating Nazi soldiers and snaffling secret war plans, bottles of schnapps, and bratwurst from the Third Reich’s war machine.
True to its nature, the stealth genre has maintained a low profile in the gaming industry, registering only occasional blips on the radar like Metal Gear and Metal Gear Solid, Hitman, and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell series over the last 30 years or so. Now that I’ve slyly dropped the names of those games I haven’t actually played so I don’t have to include them in the list, here are five stealth-oriented games you totally have to play:
Batman: Arkham Asylum
The World’s Greatest Detective is also an accomplished lurker-in-corners, and Batman: Arkham Asylum’s sneaky bits were also the best bits of the whole game. They don’t call Batman the Hangs Out On Gargoyles Waiting For a Cheap Takedown Guy for nothing, you know. They don’t call him that? They do now.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Although it’s technically not a stealth game, Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s cybernetically-enhanced super-protagonist can augment his skill-set with some seriously stealthy abilities. To maximise the experience, finish this game with no kills, no enemy alerts, and on the hardest difficulty. And then forget to pick up a single collectible so that you’re missing just the one achievement when the credits roll. True story *sniff*.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (Multiplayer)
Anybody can hide in a cupboard, but it takes a real master assassin to hide in plain sight. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood introduced stealthy multiplayer to the series (and the world) with unprecedented originality and consummate elegance, tasking players with taking out targets in densely crowded locations not by remaining entirely unseen, but simply being as inconspicuous as possible and misdirecting would-be pursuers. This is much easier said than done.
The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay
When you’re a convicted psychopath and multiple murderer, and you’ve managed to break out of your cell in a maximum security prison, you basically have two options – be very, very, very, very, very quiet or get shot instantly.
Thief II: The Metal Age
Arguably the definitive first-person stealth game, Looking Glass Studios’ Thief II: The Metal Age was also the company’s last game before they went out of business, which automatically makes it a cult classic. It’s only a matter of time before somebody decides to do an HD remake and adds rocket launchers and Facebook integration, and you don’t want to be that guy who didn’t play it when it was still cool.