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Terrible Stealth Sections Forced Into Otherwise Great Games

Unique stealth gameplay pits gamers against advanced AI as they sneak through corridors, discover secret shortcuts, and dispatch enemies in deadly silence. And while genre-bending titles like The Evil Within and Dishonored have proven that these sneaky mechanics add a whole new dimension to action-oriented games, others have not quite mastered the formula. In fact, there's nothing worse than a tacked-on stealth mission that strips you of your gargantuan guns and forces you to evade a building's worth of armed guards. Let's take a look at the most terrible stealth sections shoehorned into otherwise great video games.

Life is Strange

Equal parts coming of age story, thrilling mystery, and sci-fi drama, Dontnod's episodic Life is Strange had a lot going for it. Coupling time-rewinding gameplay with a tense story filled with choices that impact each ensuing episode, the adventure of Max Caulfield and Chloe Price is one to remember—but not for its lackluster stealth elements.

The first time the game borrows from the stealth genre, Max and Chloe find themselves evading Chloe's stepfather and high school security guard, David, and the mechanics work—partly due to the section's brevity. Successfully escaping the Blackwell Academy locker room means following David's movement patterns and making use of your time-rewinding abilities. Easy-peasy. 

But Life is Strange's fifth and final chapter, "Polarized," tosses players into a lengthy stealth-based nightmare—literally. Max's messed-up dream sequence showcases a number of surreal sections including an infamously reviled maze made up of nightmarish versions of locations she'd previously visited. Of course, because Life is Strange is a teen drama at heart, Max's maze is patrolled by obnoxious flashlight-wielding dream doppelgangers of her friends and enemies.

Reaching the lighthouse at the end of the labyrinth means sneaking around corners, weaving between obstacles, dodging flashlight beams, and making constant use of Max's powers. This notorious segment stops the finale's momentum dead in its tracks, and it feels like filler slapped together from reused assets to make the game's last chapter—its shortest—just a little bit longer.

Indigo Prophecy

During a visit to his parents' grave, Indigo Prophecy protagonist Lucas recalls his childhood at Wishita Military Base—specifically, that one time he saved all his friends and his brother from being blown to  pieces in a hangar moments before it exploded. After his friends ditched him to play hide and seek in Hangar 4, Lucas had a psychic vision of his pals' collective demise. He quickly realized that only he could save the bunch, and off he went to rescue them from a tragic fate.

Except, it's likely plenty of players never got to the rescuing part, since they probably flung their discs out the window after trying and repeatedly failing this annoying mission. Even just accessing the hangar requires hiding behind the slowest trucks on earth and climbing fences that are almost impossible to scale. Then, when little Lucas finally does make it to the 'bout-to-blow building, it's not even guaranteed that all of his buddies will make it out alive.

David Cage's Indigo Prophecy is an innovative game that proved video game narratives could rival those of Hollywood blockbusters. That said, Quantic Dream's supernatural adventure didn't exactly revolutionize stealth gameplay. Lucas' flashback sections—and their potentially devastating repercussions—are among the most hated forced stealth moments in gaming history.

Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines

Troika Games' severely underrated, perpetually fan-patched Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines gives aspiring blood-suckers the chance to allocate points to a wide variety of skill sets, including "finance," "intimidation," and "stealth." Unfortunately, players who didn't dump all of their points into the latter category might find the Elizabethan Rendezvous quest a little trickier—and more frustrating—than their sneaky counterparts.

After Vampire Prince of LA Sebastian LaCroix entrusts the player with scoping out the Ankaran Sarcophagus—a coffin allegedly housing an ancient vampire—they're shoved off to the Elizabeth Dane, a cargo ship housing the mysterious artifact. While your inner BAMF might urge you to take down the rent-a-cops patrolling the vessel using a combination of bullets and blood magic, LaCroix demands you leave them be, lest you draw attention to the clan. Playing it cool and sneaking around the ship is your safest bet—and one that's sure to make your blood boil.

The best way to tackle this one is by taking advantage of the environment, scaling the many shipping containers and dropping objects to distract guards for long enough that you can slip behind them—in other words, scampering around like a glorified raccoon. If LaCroix didn't reward you with a lavish apartment for your covert cooperation, this mission would feel like the vampiric equivalent of a big middle finger.

Hotline Miami

If there are two things Hotline Miami embraces, it's violence and psychosis. That said, the unnamed protagonist affectionately nicknamed "Jacket" isn't crazy enough to endanger his life by attempting to escape Chapter 12's hospital section by force. Actually, maybe he is that crazy—but the chapter, appropriately named "Trauma," sees him stripped of all weaponry following the murder of his girlfriend and a near-fatal attempt on his life. After his surgery, Jacket overhears a conversation between a nurse and a cop, and he learns that he's a prime suspect in a major case. He also realizes that his only course of action is to flee to his apartment. Doing so, however, means dodging both police officers and doctors by stealthily climbing through windows, hiding behind walls, and evading NPCs' lines of sight.

To add insult to literal injury, scrambling too quickly from room to room momentarily paralyzes Jacket as he holds his head in pain and an ear-splitting screech blares from your speakers. This brief delay often gives the po-po just enough time to spot Jacket, promptly tossing the ruthless ruffian back into his room.

Now, interrupting the flow of gameplay is one thing. But yanking the Uzi out of players' hands, dressing them in a hospital gown, and forcing them to forget everything they knew about a game they've invested hours into is another. All's well that ends well, though, as Jacket's next excursion takes him to the local precinct—where he proceeds to unload round after round into Miami's finest.

Final Fantasy XV

After the murder of Jared at the hands of Imperial Brigadier General and all around evil jerk Ulldor, Final Fantasy XV's Prince Noctis promises young Talcott that he'll avenge his late grandfather. So when the royal badass spots a Niflheim Airbase, he decides to even the odds by taking Ulldor out once and for all.

Unfortunately, team tactician Ignis isn't about to let you spill the General's blood on Imperial ground, demanding you take him alive. And while sparing the life of Jared's murderer is a tough pill to swallow on its own, the stealth mission that leads up to Ulldor's capture is as immersion-breaking as gaming gets. Warping from catwalk to catwalk, Noctis can leap and lunge around the Airbase, even walking right past guards no more than a few feet away without being noticed. We want to forget FFXV's stealth mission "Imperial Infiltration" not because it's frustratingly difficult, but because it's so darn easy. It legitimately feels as though enemies' typically reactive AI was cranked down instead of up.

In the end, Ignis fails, and the General escapes his custody shortly after the mission. It would've been so much easier—and more satisfying—to put the dude six feet under. Love him or hate him, it's hard to deny that Ignis, the brains behind the royal brotherhood, is kind of a wet blanket. Sure, he's the strategist of the group, always thinking two steps ahead of everyone else. But when his tactician's mind gets in the way of our lust for revenge, then we've got a problem.

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2

For a legendary vampire who can transform into a living mist at will, Dracula—aka Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2's Gabriel Belmont—sure is one noisy guy. On second thought, maybe it's just that he makes enemies out of all-powerful Old Gods like the ram-skulled Agreus, brother of the satyr Pan, who probably has a pretty nifty sense of hearing. 

The confrontation between Gabe and the crazed Agreus, who seeks revenge for the murder of his brother, takes place in a massive garden maze covered in crunchy, dead leaves. It shouldn't be that hard to make a mad dash for the exit, snatch a fragment of the Mirror of Fate, and dispatch the skeletal giant...right? Wrong. 

Apparently, Agreus has been honing his hearing since lapsing into insanity after Pan's death, because stepping on even the smallest patch of leaves sends him chasing after you—and drops you back to the beginning of the maze.

Floating around in your mist form, and strategically leaping, climbing, and sticking close to walls is a surefire way to avoid detection—but good luck finding the gateway out. With twists, turns, and plenty of oh-so-dreaded piles of leaves, you'll probably be turning to a tutorial after your 75th attempt at this unforgiving stealth section.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

What's a little thievery and homicide among friends? At one point in the seventh entry in Rockstar's beloved Grand Theft Auto series, aspiring rapper OG Loc asks protagonist CJ to steal the rhyme book of hip-hop legend Madd Dogg in order to help kickstart his career. For whatever reason—loyalty? pity?—CJ goes along with it, breaking into the musician's mansion, shamelessly murdering his entire private security force in cold blood, and pilfering his rhymes. 

In a strictly stealth-based game, the "Madd Dogg's Rhymes" mission could've proved an engaging, tongue-in-cheek home-infiltration quest filled with clever use of environmental cover mechanics and brutal stealth kills. San Andreas, however, reduces CJ's sneaking abilities to crouch-walking and stabbing guards in the neck—guards who, mind you, will literally walk right past CJ so long as he remains in a shadowy corner. And thank goodness they can't hear their colleagues groan as they crumple to the floor in a pool of blood—that might prove even remotely challenging!

Let's be real: San Andreas was a masterpiece, improving upon the Grand Theft Auto formula across the board. That said, it's also an entry in a series that celebrates mayhem. GTA gamers don't like being told how to play their criminal simulators—especially when it's the game itself that strips them of their freedom to create chaos.

Far Cry 3

Speaking of chaos, Ubisoft's insanity-tinged Far Cry 3 is yet another bombastic, blood-soaked game that unceremoniously forces players to play it cool in spite of an implausible arsenal of weaponry that could massacre their enemies in minutes. In the "Doppelganger" mission, protagonist Jason Brody must get close to drug lord and human trafficker Hoyt Volker by disguising himself as a Privateer, a member of Hoyt's loyal mercenary team. To do so, Jason has to sneak into a nearby training base, quietly slaughter one of its recruits, and steal his uniform—without killing or even alerting a single Privateer guard. Instead, players are encouraged to distract the guards by tossing rocks in different directions.

It's a lengthy, aggravating mission that insults its enemies' own AI, poses an artificial challenge to its players, and interrupts the game's otherwise guns-blazin' approach to progress. In fact, some gamers despise Doppelganger so much that they actively seek out exploits to get around it. And when players would rather cheat a stealth mission than suffer through its gameplay, you know the devs did something wrong.

Hulk

Featuring a who's who of fan-favorite super villains from the Marvel universe, and boasting brawl-based combat reminiscent of the Hulk at his most smash-happy, 2003's Hulk video game was a refreshing and faithful departure from blatantly underbaked movie tie-ins. But it also played host to one feature you wouldn't expect in a game about the towering behemoth in purple shorts—a stealth system. Of course, this gameplay mechanic is reserved for the levels where players step into the considerably smaller shoes of alter-ego Bruce Banner. Unfortunately, as you might expect, his missions are about as interesting as he is.

Mostly involving pulling levers, pushing boxes, solving puzzles, and sneaking past soldiers and mutated guard dogs, the Banner levels trade combo-based beat-em-up mechanics for monotony and overly-simplistic stealth gameplay. Sure, Banner isn't afraid to throw down with the occasional facility guard, but his boring combat sequences play more like punishments for being caught than triumphant beatdowns. Luckily, the stealth sections don't last very long, and they only make up a minor percentage of the otherwise action-packed game. Still, if developer Radical Entertainment wanted to bring Banner into the fray as a playable character, they could've traded his sneaky sections for any number of alternate mechanics—like, say, science experiment mini-games. Or painting walls and watching them dry.

​ The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

The Game Awards' 2017 Game of the Year, Breath of the Wild is a masterpiece that needs no introduction. Its beautiful art style, impressive open world, and improvisation-encouraging gameplay changed the gaming climate forever...but it suffered one little hiccup along the way: its universally despised Yiga Clan Hideout infiltration mission. Why? Because it's a stealth-based section of a game that doesn't have a cover mechanic. In other words, Breath of the Wild's "sneaking" amounts to crouching behind walls and pressing up against them, which often leads to accidentally climbing them, which gives away your hiding spot to one of the many guards circling the hideout.

There's one sure-fire way to successfully complete this mission, however. Sneaking into the Yiga Clan's HQ requires players to exploit a very specific weakness of the notorious thieves: their obsessive appetite for bananas. Tossing a cluster of nanners in front of an unsuspecting guard beckons them away from their post long enough for Link to slither by. But if you screw up and alert the guard...well, good luck getting out alive. 

Being spotted by a Yiga henchman causes him to blow a whistle, slamming all of the doors shut and summoning his fellow cohorts to take you down—with a one-hit kill to boot. To make matters worse, resurrection items like Mipha's Grace and fairies are disabled in the stronghold, along with checkpoints and the ability to save. In a game that so keen to offer players a number of ways to tackle any challenge—and a number of ways to come back to life on the off-chance they fail—this mandatory forced stealth section is a real bummer.