In the realm of video games, plenty tend to be based around the thrill of a fierce battle. However, there is one subset of games that thrives on the opposite. These sorts of games are the stealth-based games, which are all about evading the enemy and pulling off your objective unseen. Though there had been a few early examples of stealth-based games, such as Metal Gear (the first game in the Metal Gear franchise, released in 1987), the stealth-based game would truly be born in 1998. That year, there were a trio of games released that would lay a lot of the core foundations of the genre. Tenchu: Stealth Assassins was the first of the trio to demonstrate the power of stealth-based gameplay, Thief: the Dark Project showcased the importance of stealth over blunt force in this sort of gameplay, and Metal Gear Solid codified the tropes together with a gripping story crafted by Hideo Kojima. Now, plenty of games have been turning up with a focus on stealth and working unseen. Among these games is an indie title known as The Marvellous Miss Take. Within its colorful, cartoonish aesthetic is a game that showcases a strong example of what stealth-based gameplay can deliver.
When her great aunt had passed away, Sophia Take was supposed to be left with her incredible collection of art. However, that did not happen. A crooked millionaire by the name of Ralph Blackstock instead swindled his way into possession of the collection. Not only that, he has broken the collection up and sent all of the pieces to different art museums around London. However, this will not stop Sophia. She still plans to open a private gallery that will have all of the pieces on display. However, if the ways of the law will not help her in reclaiming the art, then she will take the one route left available: she will steal them back. With her own keen intelligence and variety of gadgets, she sets out to reclaim the collection. However, she finds that she is not alone. Two other thieves join her in her quest: Harry Carver, a former painter turned gentleman thief, and Daisy Hobbs, a teenage pickpocket hailing from Bristol. Together, these three thieves set out to accomplish more than just reclaiming this stolen art. Indeed, they set out to strike a blow at Ralph Blackstock himself.
As an example of the stealth-based game, The Marvellous Miss Take is a fun title that showcases what the genre can bring. Each level (aside from the introductory stage) has three different variations, one for each of the main thieves. While all three variations are divided into two portions and are all about avoiding getting caught by the security guards while reclaiming the goods, each variation has its differences. Sophia can move at an average speed and is able to use a variety of gadgets (which are generally provided at the stage of a stage, if they are available). However, her heists play out during the day, meaning that museum guests could get in the way of her path. Harry, meanwhile, moves the slowest of all of the characters due to his need for a cane for movement. However, this is counterbalanced by him always starting with a noise-generating gadget, useful for distracting a guard. Daisy moves the quickest of the three, but her stages are the most different from Sophia and Harry. She has to pickpocket the guards to get a key, then use that key to unlock a safe and steal an art deed. No matter which of three variations you play, the central goal remains to be unseen. Of course, that gets harder as the game goes along, introducing threats like security cameras and guard dogs. Another bit to this challenge that goes along with the stealth gameplay: you cannot fight back.
In plenty of games, fighting and open combat are par for the course. In fact, there are even a fair number of stealth games that offer the ability to lunge in and start swinging. However, that is not what makes a stealth-based game so appealing. Stealth-based games, with their emphasis on evasion, are intrinsically about using one’s intelligence and resourcefulness to overcome the obstacles. They understand the appeal in outsmarting your opponent, whether using stealth and surprise to take down enemies before they can get you or simply slipping by and achieving your goal unnoticed. True, plenty of stealth games do offer methods of combat, but sometimes there might be a temptation to brute force a solution to the problem instead of being smart in how you handle it. By taking away the ability to fight back, this game forces you to be clever and figure out the ways around all of the security measures. Sometimes, it can get frustrating and a player would want to strike back. However, that moment when a player figures out the best approach to outwitting their foe can feel so satisfying. It is that moment of clarity, that moment of realizing the smart move and executing it, that makes stealth games so appealing to play.
Stealth-based games are a genre that has come to stand out thanks to an emphasis on evasion and clever tactics instead of just brute combat. The Marvellous Miss Take is a good example of the appeal in such gameplay, thanks to a lack of combat that pushes the player to think about how to move or use their gadgets.