What are the best/worst stealth segments in a game where stealth is not a core mechanic?

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bigsocrates

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#1  Edited By bigsocrates

I don't love stealth in video games. I find that it mostly involves sitting around and waiting for NPCs to go through their routines, which is not fun for me, and I also think it's often implemented in fiddley and unintuitive ways, where you can do things that should give you away (like make a lot noise) without penalty, but can also be caught when you shouldn't. There are some primarily stealth games that I like, such as A Plague Tale: Innocence, and some games that have stealth systems that I find tolerable, like the Arkham games, but for the most part it's just not something I enjoy and I tend to steer clear of games where stealth is the major focus of the gameplay.

As we slowly move towards a future where it seems like every game will include all genres in one way or another I've noticed that there are stealth segments in a huge percentage of the games I play. This includes everything from a Metroidvania like Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom to a 2D GTA clone like Shakedown Hawaii to a...cloud simulator like Rain on Your Parade.

This is a video game so it has stealth in it.
This is a video game so it has stealth in it.

What are your favorite/least favorite examples of this? I'm not talking about games where stealth is a major part of the gameplay design but isn't the majority, like the Insomniac Spider-Man games where most of the time you're swinging around and punching people in the face but there's a whole complex system designed for stealth. I would call stealth a core gameplay mechanic in games like that. I'm talking about games like Yakuza 0 where stealth isn't really a thing but in one seemingly random segment 15 hours into the game you're escorting a woman through the streets and for some reason the game decides to throw in some stealth...and it sucks.

Personally I think these segments are almost always bad. At best they are inoffensive because they're very easy. At worst they are frustrating and annoying. I think Yakuza 0 and Monster Boy's were both pretty bad. At least Yakuza 0's let you fight your way out and was not instant fail. Instant fail stealth in non-stealth games is almost always horrible. Shakedown Hawaii's was quick and easy so inoffensive.

Are any of these segments actually fun and engaging? Are there any that you've found so frustrating you stopped playing the game? Why do developers feel the need to throw these in? Is it just out of a blind need for 'variety' for variety's sake even if the game is not designed to support the 'varied' design (which is just like the design of almost every other game released in the last 10 years)? Is there some constituency that gets excited about the idea of getting to sneak around in a game not designed for sneaking?

How long until we see stealth implemented into Picross and when it is will it be instant fail?

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BaneFireLord

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I can’t think of a single good example of a Mandatory Stealth Sequence in an otherwise non-stealth game. It’s always a momentum killer and never fun. Spider-Man’s a perfect example. The optional stealth mechanics when you’re playing as Peter or Miles in the sequel-expansion-whatever are delightful, but when you’re forced to play as nonpowered MJ or Miles in the first game and sneak around enemy bases it’s like running headlong into a brick wall. While to an extent those sequences work to make the freedom and power of the main game all the sweeter, it doesn’t make them suck any less in the moment.

Also I don’t know if this really counts, but tailing missions are the actual literal devil and I despise them. It’s a testament to my love of climbing on historical buildings that I’m still playing Assassin’s Creed games to this day despite how reliant the earlier ones were on that absolute dogshit mission design.

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Junkerman

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Curious to see if anyone can come up with some good ones.

As I've proclaimed in other threads I'm a big fan of Stealth games (Mostly Splinter Cell, Immersive Sim Games and even TES games as stealth characters) but as @banefirelord said, they're unanimously a fun/momentum killer in any game I can think of.

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mellotronrules

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@banefirelord: yeah the MJ stuff in Marvel's Spider-Man is no good. that feels like the high-profile posterchild for this problem.

i've never liked when rockstar's games has sneaky bits. also am i high, or is there a stealthy section in the desert of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild that was not fun?

stealth is such a tricky mechanic to nail- it really does feel like if you're going for it, the game needs to be built around it. it's too easy to create a binary win/fail situation, and that never feels good to me. i much prefer the Metal Gears or Last of Us-es of the world that give you exhaustive stealth tools, but then almost expect you to fuck it up and give you a way to stumble your way out of a bad situation.

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BladeOfCreation

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Mass Effect 2 has some great companion missions. Thane's mission is supposed to be this really sad, yet hopeful, mission about Thane trying to prevent his son from following in his murderous footsteps. Unfortunately, the main portion of the mission is this awful and easy-to-fail stealth tailing sequence. By the time I got to the end of the mission, I was too frustrated to really care about what was supposed to be a powerful story moment.

In recent years, I'd definitely say the Spider-Man games stand out in this regard. (I particularly dislike the MJ sequences because I really hate the trope of journalists sneaking around to get a story. This is like the first goddamn thing they teach on day one of journalism school: ethics.) The instant-fail stuff is pretty obnoxious and makes me not care about the story that's being told. There is one mission near the end of Spider-Man where MJ and Peter are working together that's actually a really fun segment, but all it does is highlight how much the rest of the stealth stuff sucks.

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sombre

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The MJ sequence in Spiderman was utterly atrocious. I stopped playing for a week

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cornfed40

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@mellotronrules: You might be high, but there is deff a mission to follow one of the Yiga Clan members back to their desert hideout. And it kinda sucks. Not hard, but not what i want my little elfen lad doing

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cornfed40

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Remember that Hulk game that had sections where you snuck through buildings as Bruce Banner. That was some proper hot garbage

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AV_Gamer

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#9  Edited By AV_Gamer

I would say Assassins Creed Valhalla is a recent example. There are many missions where Evior will say that infiltrating quietly is the best course of action, but because of how the enemy territories are set up, you'll find yourself in combat almost immediately no matter how careful you are. Which is probably why the game has no fail option when discovered.

I say an example of a game meant for stealth but does so poorly would be surprisingly Dishonored 2. I say surprisingly, because the stealth in the first game was excellent. It was very rewarding, fun, and worth doing to see the true ending of the game. But the stealth in Dishonored 2 is much worse, mainly because many of the areas aren't as wide open as they were in the first game, and the guards a positioned in a way that makes it hard to sneak up on them. Also the game is less forgiving for kills unlike the first game. Just killing enemy gets you a chaos ranking, unlike the first game where you were giving three kills. Its the reasons I quickly fell off of it. I don't know if patches fixed these issues. I'll go back to it, someday.

And the MJ sections in Spiderman weren't that bad. Stop it...

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cikame

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#10  Edited By cikame

I don't know about my favourite, but dodging and/or shooting out all the spotlights in that one level of Afterburner Climax is fun.

Loading Video...

If it doesn't skip to it it's at 10:19, also i think he's using a cheat unlock to auto lock on missiles, it's not that easy.

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bigsocrates

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@mellotronrules: I hated the Yiga stuff in Breath of the Wild. It made me put the game down for like a month, and that's my favorite game of all time. Just a pace destroying chore full of fiddly bits and all kinds of issues. Like so many stealth sequences in non-stealth games it forced you to ignore most of that game's systems in favor of just standing around and throwing bananas. Ugh.

@cikame: I don't know if you're joking or not but I would not call that a stealth sequence. It's not like you're being quiet or engaging in any kind of different gameplay. It's just a different form of hazard with possibly a stealth aesthetic gloss. The spotlights could have been laser beams or moving mechanical parts or almost anything else.

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whylessness

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majora's mask, the quest where you have to follow sakon to his hideout (the anju & kafei quest). unpleasant memories of failing that and being like "wait, i have to do all that over again?"

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Brendan

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I forgot about the Yiga Clan stuff in BOTW until it was mentioned in this thread, and...yeah. It didn't bother me THAT much but it was definitely a slog.

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ali_d

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The completely unnecessary stealth sqequence in that last Tex Murphy game that got kickstarted, was a really downer. Insta-fail, first person stealth with no actual stealth mechanics, just wander about in a maze and try to roughly avoid people. It was real bad.

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beard_of_zeus

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It's a bit more than a single segment, but the stealth parts of Shadow of Rome are not that fun, especially when juxtaposed against the fun, brutal coliseum fights that compose the rest of the game.

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Onemanarmyy

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#16  Edited By Onemanarmyy

First thing that came to mind was Tesla Effect.

So this is the kickstarter reboot of the FMV adventure series Tex Murphy. But for some reason, these games always have to put some real time action in their games instead of leaning on the casual point & clicking of most adventure games. So for this latest installment in the series they decided to make you cross this maze-like room that's filled to the brim with patrolling guards (multiple times i believe). Now, this is a first person adventure game. Which means that you're sort of steering your camera through this stealth section and hope that the guard never spots your floating camera. If they do, that's an instant game over. Now the problem is that you can't look ahead of you without also making yourself visible to whatever might be in front of you. But you need to keep moving forwards or the guard behind you might catch up to you. Truly infuriating.

Why can't this light hearted noir adventure not just stick to the adventuring?

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Nodima

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That Yiga stealth sequence seemed like it was going to be daunting the first two or three times I attempted it, and then I remembered it's a kids game for kids and breezed through it. I don't mean that to be insulting or anything, that was just the logic I applied to it and it worked out.

I liked the Miles and MJ sequences, damn it! I like to look at 3D art and explore 3D spaces with very little pressure or skill needed and that's what those were.

It is pretty hard to think of when these moments are genuinely good, though, and not just appealing to some reptilian part of my brain I can't ignore. For example, being a total idiot I've loved going into "stealth" missions, or missions involving stealth, in the GTAIV/GTAV/RDR2 mold of Rockstar games because those worlds feel so lived in and real that it feels authentically sneaky in a way that games about authentic sneaking like MGSV or Batman can't fully satisfy with me because you have too many tools, too many ways to not feel like a floppy bundle of a dummy the way those Rockstar sequences can have.

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Efesell

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#18  Edited By Efesell

I really can’t think of an example of this where it has been a net positive. If it’s not the worst segment in a game then the highest praise is always like.. oh well at least it’s over really quick.

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WulfBane

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#19  Edited By WulfBane

Some of the examples I see that I recognize (Spider-Man MJ & BotW Yiga hideout) weren't too bad for me but I could concede that heavy playing of Hitman and early MGS certainly trained me in "3rd person stealth pacman" and I can see it more as a puzzle of when and where to go. If your brain is wired for something different, I can see how that gameplay shift can cause trouble.

And to add an odd "Stealth sequence" that somehow got jostled free in my mind is Black & White. Yes, a stealth sequence in a literal god strategy game. No, it doesn't involve trying to sneak your 100' tall creature somewhere. It requires YOU to be stealthy. Basically it's one of those "tail this guy w/o being seen" following this guy as he climbs a mountain trail to a secret place. Again, this is a god game where for the most part you just consider that you're viewing down and zooming your camera around the land as you're doing your stuff. What you have to do stealthy here is how you navigate your CAMERA view as you watch this guy walk, do stuff, and make sure you swing the camera around if he starts to do a 180 and try to look towards you're incorporeal view point (to be fair, in multiplayer where you're camera is centered is represented to other players by a symbol you select). And of course you can't get too far or let him get out of your view or you lose him.

It's been YEARS, but I want to say that even when you do it right it can take several minutes to do this. And it's instant fail if he spots you or you let him get behind a rock.

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nophilip

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I absolutely HATED the stealth sequence early in Wind Waker when I first played that game as a 13 year old. Revisiting the HD remaster over a decade later, it didn't seem nearly as egregious.

On the flip side, the stealth sequence in FFXV was actually kinda fun because you mostly just use your teleport power to subvert most of the actual "stealth".

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BisonHero

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#21  Edited By BisonHero

@nophilip: Zelda has a weird love affair with each game having a stealth sequence that is <5% of the game, and it’s kinda baffling.

Ocarina of Time: Gerudo fortress, instajail if you get caught.

Majora’s Mask: another Gerudo fortress, also a Deku fortress where you’re insta thrown out if Deku guards catch you, also you have to tail a thief without him noticing once or twice.

Wind Waker: the opening fortress sequence, but then surprisingly little else other than maybe a mission or two where you tail an NPC at night or something.

Twilight Princess: most of the wolf sequences have elements of stealth around human NPCs, but I don’t think you do any stealth stuff with humanoid Link.

Skyward Sword: no stealth I can remember, but that game is a blur in my memory.

BotW: the Yiga hideout, which is really punishing on sight lines but on the other hand is the one area where the stealth armour/stealth potions to make your footsteps quieter are actually much more useful.

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The_Ruiner

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Forced stealth segments are never fun for me. not even in actual stealth game. I love using stealth as a tactic, but I like it to be my choice and if I screw it up i want to have to deal with the combat consequences of being caught. "Game Over, You were spotted/Dammit Fisher I'm pulling you out" is a sign of bad design

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Kevinhfry

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@cornfed40: came here for this one. Truly terrible.

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El_Blarfo

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@nodima said:

That Yiga stealth sequence seemed like it was going to be daunting the first two or three times I attempted it, and then I remembered it's a kids game for kids and breezed through it. I don't mean that to be insulting or anything, that was just the logic I applied to it and it worked out.

Boy oh boy I hated that part. It wasn't that the sneaking was terribly hard, it was just that the game supposedly prides itself on letting you find your own solutions-- except for that one segment.

Even worse was the korok challenge where you have to trail one of those jangly little bastards through the woods. That one WAS hard-- but only because it kept springing scripted surprises on you which required you to try and fail multiple times. Thankfully that one was optional at least. I finally skipped it.

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Nodima

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The korok challenge is particularly lame, I'll agree with that one wholeheartedly. I played the Lost Woods stuff under a substantial buzz and basically stumbled into it on my second try luckily, but that korok tailing challenge nearly broke me. It's not all that hard or unfair but it sure is long and it just doesn't need to be! Most of it is just watching that little guy waddle! It's not that cute!

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judaspete

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I liked sneaking around the Forsaken Fortress in Wind Waker. The camera would swing around toward an enemy that was about to notice you, giving you a split second chance to hide or freeze before being spotted. Simple and forgiving, but just challenging enough to be fun.

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El_Blarfo

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@nodima said:

The korok challenge is particularly lame, I'll agree with that one wholeheartedly. I played the Lost Woods stuff under a substantial buzz and basically stumbled into it on my second try luckily, but that korok tailing challenge nearly broke me. It's not all that hard or unfair but it sure is long and it just doesn't need to be! Most of it is just watching that little guy waddle! It's not that cute!

And let me tell you, it got a lot LESS cute.

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PeezMachine

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#28  Edited By PeezMachine

Yakuza 0 motherfuckerrrrrrrrr

Edit: Looking through my Steam library for candidates, and while I don't remember one off the top of my head, I would be SHOCKED if the first two Mafia games don't have a stealth clunker somewhere in there.

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Shindig

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I really dislike the one in Fahrenheit where you're sneaking around a military base as kids.

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noobsauce

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Witcher 2 had some fucking annoying stealth sections

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Efesell

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#33  Edited By Efesell

Stealth games are fine, because (one hopes) they will provide the appropriate tools to navigate that sort of challenge without being frustrating.

Every other game that is not a stealth game and does not have those tools is making a mistake when they include stealth as a mechanic, and they've never got it right.

And it's weird because I feel like other genres don't get this sort of thing all that often. Sure too many games that are not platformers decide that you need to awkwardly do too much platforming but I feel like everyone thinks they're going to be the ones to solve the forced stealth problem.

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PeezMachine

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#34  Edited By PeezMachine

@topcyclist: No, not at all. This thread is about bad stealth sequences in games that are NOT stealth games. Yakuza 0 is not a stealth game. It has a bad stealth sequence, as the thread creator has astutely pointed out.

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Daavpuke

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Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is the stealth sequence that's burned into my mind. Until then, I was tolerating that game's bad taste, but this part with like a goaty looking person in some walled garden is just infuriating to no end.

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ThatRoss

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Only have a bad example: Life is Strange 1...the "boss" stage near the end. For a game that is essentially an interactive storybook, all of sudden you have this stealth level but the fidelity of the controls just doesn't allow for it. Fortunately a YouTube walkthrough showed it's actually pretty simple if you nail the right path. Plus you get to the hear the boss shout the same couple dialog lines over and over. Pretty lame climax to an otherwise decent game.

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cikame

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bigsocrates

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@cikame: I was not offended. I just don't think that's stealth. If someone says "my favorite planet is Pluto" that's not offensive, but according to current standards it's a misclassification.

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TheRealTurk

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Gotta be Witcher 2. Not only was it wildly out of place for the rest of the game, but in many spots it was just fundamentally broken. Sometimes you could walk right in front of NPCs and not get caught. Sometimes you could get through an area without causing an alert but the game would think you had been caught. You could knock people out, but sometimes the prompt to do so wouldn't appear. Sometimes you would knock someone out only for them to get right back up and catch you.

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FacelessVixen

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The best was in Saints Row IV since that segment was just an innocuous Metal Gear spoof.

The worst I can think of is Wind Waker, but I'm not saying much by it at all since I've probably played worse forced stealth segments at some point.

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mach_go_go_go

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@shindig: Oh man, totally forgot about that military-base flashback in Fahrenheit. That might single-handedly be the worst stealth sequence in the history of games.

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Mezmero

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#43  Edited By Mezmero

I've been playing games for so long that stealth is just part of my gaming literacy. I'd struggle to call it a good or bad thing for me personally, it's just another mechanic to solve in order to proceed. I barely even think about it anymore like in the M'sS-M example. They're often short enough not to bother me that much. Most modes of play are about your reflexes whereas stealth is more about testing finesse. On a case by case basis I'd say the main thing to criticize in these kinds of sequences are detection radii and checkpoints.

Best recent- I've played Ghost of Tsushima and there are some missions where you don't want to raise an alarm but you can kill with impunity as long as bodies aren't discovered. However in the main story there is at least one mission where you have to purely stealth into a castle. It makes narrative sense to do so as it's occupied by samurai who are not exactly your allies but whom Jin has no reason to kill. I found it to be a surprisingly easy mission to do in one try but again that could've just been my literacy of stealth taking over.

Worst recent- Been playing Gravity Rush 2. I love a lot of things about this game but for duck's sake don't put a stealth mission like this in a game where the joy is from the freedom of movement. Again though it wasn't that long or difficult for me, the detection zones were just super unclear within this game's UI.

Best from memory - I don't remember if it was very fun to get through but there is a sort of stealth sequence in Ghost Trick that is nonetheless amusing in how it's implemented visually and mechanically.

Worst from memory - These are the kinds that I tend to wipe from my mind. Tailing missions are pretty bad across the board but I'd say those are almost always in service of some kind of narrative so I imagine how much you can stand it also depends on how much you even like stories in games. I'll have to get back to you on something more specific.

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FacelessVixen

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Astral Chain's stealth segment is my new answer.

To be fair, I accept it as a part of being a cop and going though it is an optional objective that can be "skipped" at the cost of mission rank. But in a game were the thing that I want to engage with the most is the combat, the stealth segment here is the biggest drag.