Elemental Challenge Twenty-Five: Stealth

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Shh, NPCs… be vewy, vewy quiet. We’re talking Stealth games today. BOOM BABY!

Before I get pulled over by the “well, actually” police in any prospective comments below, let me clarify that I consider Stealth to be less a genre of sorts than a mechanism or feature employed in action games. For the purposes of this Elemental Challenge, we’re using it for a terminological categorization. Capiche? So anyway, Stealth games are characterized by an emphasis on sneaking around, avoiding enemies, conserving ammunition and items, and being as quiet as possible. When done right, this can be quite thrilling. When done wrong, it can lead to a lot of player impatience. Worse, it can seem like the game was just fishing for buyers by including the modus operandi of ninjas for no good reason, especially if the characters or setting have no precedent for stealth gameplay. Speaking of which, when are we going to get a Super Mario stealth game?

Tread carefully. Our favorites are nigh…

 

blackmage  The Black Humor Mage

The Metal Gear series is what comes to a lot of people’s minds, and for good reason. I’m not even a huge fan of stealth games, and yet the Metal Gear series managed to become my absolute favorite game series. I love these games to death, and each one does stealth so much differently from each other so that it’s always a rush. I can’t pick my favorite one though.

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mystic_knight1 The Midnight Mystic Mage (Sublime Reviews)

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth. I am currently playing through this game on my YouTube channel and I have really been enjoying it. The stealth elements of the game are vital and very well executed. It gives you plenty of reason to be in the shadows and sneaking about whether it be an angry mob of Innsmouth citizens or to find clues in areas where you should not be allowed to voyage. (Honorable Mentions – Dishonored, Manhunt, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater)

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spoonybardmageright.jpg  The Spoony Bard Mage (Nerd Speaker)

What is stealth? *runs into into the jungle with guns blazing* I really, really suck at stealth, but I managed to struggle through Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes on GameCube because of its amazing story. For the rest of the series I resorted to online playthroughs.

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HandheldMage1  The Hopeful Handheld Mage (Retro Redress)

Splinter Cell: Conviction (Xbox360). I don’t really like stealth games – I’ve not got the patience or ability to play them. However, I really liked Conviction as the stealth was great, but you also had the option of just destroying everyone. I like having the freedom to pick how to beat levels, as opposed to being forced to play them one specific way.

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EKkbAqWy  The Brave Blue Mage (924COLLECTIVE)

Quest for Glory I: So You Want to Be a Hero. Long before Skyrim there was Quest for Glory! Nothing beats choice, & the Quest for Glory series had it in spades, allowing a player to play the game how they wanted to, leveling in numerous different ways. Who doesn’t love a thief with a lockpick? Nothing beats discovering the hidden Thieves’ Guild & using wits to progress through the game. Another innovation was the character import system which allowed players to take their character into the next game. Quest for Glory I by Sierra combined adventure, role-playing, & humor with great success.

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Kx18GL1dNEW  The Dapper Zaffre Mage (Save File 02)

I feel as though Alpha Protocol just didn’t get the love it deserved- and that’s a shame. Despite it being a common selling point nowadays, I tend to dislike what passes for ‘your choices will come back later’ kinds of games, namely because said choices tend to not really matter in the end, so it says a lot about Alpha Protocol that I loved it even though such a mechanic is present.

The PS3 game is a spy story in which you’re blacklisted from the eponymous off-the-books organization, and must go on to unravel the conspiracy that used you as a fall guy. Your choices and actions determine what a variety of characters will say, feel, and do about you throughout the playthrough, and any one particular person or organization’s affinity towards you can alter future missions and opportunities. What caught my interest the most, though, was the various ways you could go about a level. Sneaking was just as much of an option as engaging enemies, and on top of that, there was a clear difference between killing and non-lethal approaches, which also affected your relationships. Having everybody I ran into on my initial playthrough acknowledge that the protagonist didn’t kill indiscriminately made the struggle worth it.

The story and supporting characters were functional enough to make the game work, either, and I came back for six playthoughs of this. Even by the fifth, I was still discovering new dialog and branches that weren’t open to me before. Different classes and skill trees made every playthrough fun enough to complete, and even my ‘everything dies’ run was difficult in new ways that I never ran into with my more stealthy approaches.

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nostalgiamage  The Over-Caffeinated Nostalgia Mage (Nostalgia Trigger)

Does Dishonored count as a stealth game? If so, that one’s an easy win for me. I haven’t played many stealth games, as I’m more of a “get stuff done fast” kind of guy, but Dishonored tip-toed the line of stealth and action-RPG. The greatest part about the series is how every situation truly had several ways to go about them. Do you want to Blink your way through the map, avoiding all contact with the enemy entirely? Silently take out a guard and hide him behind a dumpster? Or just drop down on their head and murder them in full view of a dozen enemies? The choice was yours!

Dishonored also scores bonus points because it’s one of the few stealth games where you aren’t explicitly punished by doing away with stealth elements altogether. Sure you could aim to. This ties in with “being the bad guy” in most RPGs – generally you are dissuaded from playing a certain way. I never felt pressed in Dishonored to behave in a certain way, and that’s why it holds the torch for best stealth game out there.

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  The Rage Mage

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty is one big middle finger for the fans. One big, whiny, pallid, effeminate, platinum-blonde middle finger that’s not Solid Snake.

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rmage2.jpg  The Well-Red Mage

I quite nearly went with Metal Gear Solid as my stealth game of choice, since it was mindblowing, dramatic, and intense, especially upon first experiencing it. But then I remembered Arkham Asylum. This is my favorite of the Arkham games for its claustrophobia and focus over its open-world successors, and it is the best video game interpretation of Batman’s universe we’ve ever seen. Throw in veteran voice actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill, pitch perfect atmosphere, tons of villains and references, gadgets galore, and stealth mechanics which actually fit the player character and you’ve got one heck of a stealth game where you play as a walking arsenal. I’ve played a few stealth games but this is one where the setting and the cast actually seemed to fit the mechanics on display. There’s nothing quite like being the Batman and dropping down on thugs for a silent takedown, stringing them up by their ankles. I AM THE NIGHT.

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!

You’ve been spotted by the enemy! Run, run, run, run! But come back this way tomorrow, after you’ve lost your tail, and we’ll do a bit more running but this time things will be a little more horrific.
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37 thoughts on “Elemental Challenge Twenty-Five: Stealth

  1. I nominate Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater on the PlayStation 2. I agree that the Metal Gear Solid games were enjoyable and Metal Gear Solid had a good story, but I felt the third game developed the stealth aspect much more than the others. Using outdoor locations changed the game significantly. Instead of just having to sneak around buildings and take out enemies, the player had to select the best make up and camouflage and work out a route through the area to avoid the guards. The game also used disguises, which meant the player had to navigate buildings by avoiding enemies and not arousing suspicion (which was different to the other games). The use of varied terrain also made the game more interesting to play, along with the different gameplay methods. The game also used interesting boss fights. The story was also interesting (which was a conspiracy thriller set during the Cold War) and was effective at portraying the uncertainty of the time. The player’s journey also made the game seem more epic. I also used to enjoy the stealth challenges in the Donkey Kong 64 game.
    I agree that stealth is probably better described as a feature of action games, rather than a separate category. What is different about Batman Arkham Asylum compared to the other games in the series? Why do you prefer Metal Gear Solid to the other games?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh man Metal Gear, the first time I played that game back on the ps one, I was completely awestruck. The moment where I had to unplug a controller and put in a different port to defeat a boss was one of the many completely classic moment that left me with a jaw that fell straight to the floor lol 😂😂 Great game with a lot of great memories 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am pretty terrible at Stealth games and I’ve only gotten worse at them as time goes on. I always hear about people doing a no kill run of games and I’m like, I murdered everyone. But one game I have a love for despite all this though is Thief: The Dark Project. Yeah, I still sucked at it, and the game was incredibly unforgiving, but there was something about being a Robin Hood type character sulking around creepy castle corners and shooting my awesome trick arrows to distract guards.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Unless I’ve missed the horror genre I’m sure it’s happening, and I don’t want to use SOMA for stealth if it is lol.

    I’m not a fan of the genre. The parts of FFVII and FFVIII where you had to be stealthy always stressed me out. I’m not terrible with timing, but I just don’t like it.

    I really need to watch LPs of Metal Gear.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ah, Metal Gear is still probably my number one, BUT even though it’s not technically a stealth game, Shadow of Mordor can be played with fantastically satisfying stealth mechanics, so since Metal Gear has been so well represented, I’ll go with Shadow of Mordor 😉

    Liked by 2 people

      • This is possibly the best comment I’ve read about Shadow of Mordor!! 😀 Yes, I saw the trailer for Shadow of War 😉 but I don’t remember cyborg orcs!! I think the addition of cyborcs (which is what I will now be calling them) would be an interesting development. I think you’re talking about the orcs that are under Talion’s command, though??

        Liked by 2 people

        • Eh I can’t rremember! 😀 It was at E3 and I felt sorry from Tolkien’s legacy when they started in on the cyborg orcs. I lost track of all the Middle-Earth centered games, so you’ll have to forgive my lapse into vague statements.

          Liked by 2 people

  6. Reblogged this on Sublime Reviews and commented:

    Day 25 of the Elemental Challenge is Stealth games. I chose my favorite to be one that I am in the middle of playing, risky move I know. You just can’t go wrong with all of the awesome Lovecraftian lore in Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth though, it is really a fun game so far and it relies heavily on its Stealth aspects. Come by The Well-Red Mage and let us know your favorites!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m going to hop into the time machine again, and point out the original Castle Wolfenstein games by MUSE. These games were stealth before there was stealth. Sneaking around, in World War II, dispatching Nazis from behind. True the series would inspire id Software to make their own Wolfenstein games, and these would be action heavy. But there’s something about the original C64/Apple II/Atari 400/800/DOS game’s sneaky gameplay that remains compelling to this day.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m going with The Last of Us for this one. Although the entire game is not reliant on stealth, the game does have many situations where the player has to utilize the protagonist’s stealth ability in order to avoid being devoured. I rather enjoyed the stealth elements in this game. It wasn’t a required element to the point of tedium, but wasn’t such an unimportant skill that a player could successfully finish the game without using it at least once beyond the tutorial.

    Liked by 1 person

    • THA LAST OF US SUKKKZ!!!!1 Just kidding! I appreciate our enjoyable discourse over it back in that comment section. Thanks for the considerably robust and challenging conversation! It was very intellectually stimulating. That’s one huge reason why I love this WP community. Discussions! I certainly must agree with you here that the stealth gameplay in TLOU felt great, and best of all, it felt like a necessity for the characters and setting!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Although its not considered a stealth game per se, you can play it that way. So mine is Skyrim. If I could, I cheesed every baddie I came across. This didn’t ruin the experience actually and I quite enjoyed myself… until of course I discovered Dark Souls.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Man, the Killer Croc section in Arkham was SO GOOD! I think my favorite game that fits the stealth moniker is Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, though I loved it more for being a pirate game than anything else. I finally played through the original Dishonored at the end of last year and liked it quite a bit. I also have fond memories of Tenchu on PS1 and the first few Metal Gear Solid titles (up to 3, I’d say).

    An underappreciated stealth gem, though, is Spy Chameleon.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Metal Gear on the PS1. That thing was near revolutionary in my school in terms of how well liked it was. That Tactical Espionage Action: Metal Gear Solid can be abbreviated to TEA MGS, which is very close to TEA MUGS, is a bonus for me. Great game though. Taught me how to hide in boxes and obtain the scent of a wolf. That in itself may save my life one day. Seriously though, I do love the game.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I was introduced to the series through Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. I actually played it for awhile and got frustrated after playing it for a few hours. It was the first stealth game I ever played and couldn’t get the concept of sneaking rather than straight up fighting. It gave me a whole appreciation for different play styles in video games. A year or so after putting it down, I picked it up during a summer vacation and binged played it for a few days. It’s hands down the more difficult and enjoyable stealth experience that I had in gaming.

        Liked by 1 person

          • I played MGS4, though I never beat it. I was playing it on my friends PS4 before I bought one. I also played a lot of MGS5 before a friend of mine broke my disk. I just don’t know if I will put in anymore time with it. I loved it and ended up putting in almost 50 hours into it before my friend broke it. I want to beat it, just don’t know if I can play through the same stuff over again.

            Liked by 1 person

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