Stealth games occupy a curious niche in PC gaming. Occasionally, the best stealth games are their own thing, a result of a developer channelling all of the mechanics of a game into the suspense and satisfaction of killing, stealing, and infiltrating unnoticed. Most of the time, though, stealth is just one of several means by which you can navigate a game, as you consciously opt for the path of the shadowy rogue or incisive assassin over more forceful approaches.
Any game that features stealth is eligible for our best stealth games list, but it needs to do it pretty damn well (sorry Skyrim, you had your chance. Sorry Assassin’s Creed, you had about 20 chances).
The best stealth games highlight that neat joy of entering a space and leaving it unchanged except for the briefcase you were told to extract, or that one person who was your target now laying dead without anyone having noticed – the alarms going off at the precise moment you coolly walk away from the scene undetected. Nothing beats the thrill of doing things on the down-low.