Stealth has become a common concept in video games today. However, there are a few games that rely on it as the core of their gameplay. The Metal Gear, Tenchu, Thief and Splinter Cell franchises all feature stealth as a main gameplay aspect.
Stealth has made its way into almost every First Person Shooter since the debut of GoldeneEye on the Nintendo 64 and especially Metal Gear Solid on the PlayStation. Recent titles to apply the stealth concept to the FPS genre include Crysis and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl.
The first stealth game was Manbiki Shounen, released in 1979. It inspired two similar stealth games in 1980, Lupin III and Manbiki Shoujo.
Another early ancestor was the 1980 maze chase game Pac-Man, which laid the foundations for the stealth genre. It emphasized avoiding and running away from enemies rather than fighting them, and had an influence on the design of Metal Gear. Another early arcade maze game from 1980 that emphasized avoiding enemies was Lupin III, based on the anime of the same name, where the titular protagonist is a thief who must steal money and escape before being caught by police inspectors or guards. 
Sega's 005, released for the arcades in 1981, was an early game to employ stealth elements. Players controlled a spy who must avoid enemies as he makes his way through buildings and warehouses, where he will need to dodge the enemies' flashlights and use boxes as hiding spots. 005 holds the Guinness World Record for being the first stealth game. The stealth concept was later evolved and popularized by the Metal Gear series.
The long standing example of a franchise that uses stealth as its core concept and basis for gameplay is the Metal Gear series. It is believed that the stealth concept came into being because of the technical limitations of the 8-bit MSX and NES platforms. No more than three enemies could be rendered on the screen at the same time, so creator Hideo Kojima had to implement a different style of gameplay, resulting in the revolutionary stealth-based gameplay of the original Metal Gear.
In Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake for the MSX2 and its popular sequel Metal Gear Solid for the Playstation, each guard has a field of view in which they can spot the player or investigate the area. This field of view is visible to the player via their in game heads up display, as a part of their radar. A core component of gameplay is to avoid these fields of view, and maintain stealth while still accomplishing an objective. To maintain stealth, the player can utilize the environment by crawling through airducts or under cars, or simply hiding around corners. They can also use their equipment. Using a silenced firearm to kill guards, or using a chaff grenade to disable a security camera are common methods of maintaining stealth. Disabling guards by knocking them out or killing them will alert other guards if the body is discovered. In this situation, maintaining stealth includes hiding or disposing of the body, such as stuffing it into an available locker or if on a ship, dumping it overboard.
While Metal Gear Solid has stealth elements, there are action combat sequences. If the player is detected, guards enter an alerted status, and the player will be forced to fight an overwhelming number of guards. During the alert sequence, the player can use weapons and other equipment to kill or disable reinforcements. The game remains in the alert sequence until the player finds a way to escape their detection. All boss characters are unavoidable, and must be fought. Gameplay has been criticized as "play the radar" with historians finding little innovations being made with Metal Gear's transition to 3d over the years.
Tenchu: Stealth Assassins
Tenchu was the first 3d stealth game ever released, beating Thief and Meal Gear Solid to store shelves by a month. The game was developed by Acquire and created by Takuma Endo. Taking place in feudal Japan the game is essentially a ninja simulator. The player traverses rooftops with a grappling hook that can be fired anywhere with no restriction. The player can also use the grappling hook to pull themselves away from danger using any nearby wall. The game attracted a lot of attention for its varied motion capture Stealth Kill animations. The sequel, Tenchu 2: Birth of the Stealth Assassins introduced body dragging to the genre. It then started to appear in nearly every other stealth game shortly thereafter.
Thief: The Dark Project
Another franchise that features the stealth concept is the Thief series. This series played with realistic lighting before any other game. So in order to remain unnoticed, players must utilize dark areas in order to maintain stealth. Gameplay features a light meter that tells players whether they are in a area of darkness suitable to maintain stealth. If the light level is low, guards cannot see the player. if light levels are high, they can spot the player from a good distance away. Thief also had a more advanced sound meter system that had ever been seen in the genre. This meter indicates to the player how much sound they are making in relation to the environment, and if the sound levels are suitable to maintain stealth. These aspects were highly influential stealth games that followed.
A bow is used to make headshots and launch roped arrows to certain climbable points. Combat is discouraged and the player can get overwhelmed easily by a few enemy guards. While the game does have action sequences, they are not the focus of the game. Objectives can change from mission to mission, requiring that you not be detected, or not kill, so it can be difficult at times.