It really says a lot for how big the impact of this game was on me as a youngster, that going back even 15 to 20 years later and playing it through again, complete with the limitations of the system, as well as that draw distance, that Tenchu: Stealth Assassins still stands out as one of the very best games the Playstation had to offer.
No, I'm not kidding.
Personality counts for a lot with the older generations of games, and Tenchu has personality in spades.
As a game, it's an experience that shows it's age in a lot more ways than merely with it's graphics. As arguably the first big 3D stealth focused game, it's mechanically creaky and not at all up to par compared to modern efforts.
Who gives a fuck about that, though?
For those of us willing to give the game a chance, as well as those of us returning after some time to experience the carnage anew, Tenchu is a lean, brief experience that oozes style, and substance all at once.
The setting, characters, and soundtrack (One of the top five OST's on the Playstation, no I won't be taking counterarguments) all combine to create this utterly enthralling adventure where every single move must be carefully considered, and strict understanding of the game's mechanics and enemy patterns will lead to bloody satisfaction.
Even now, there's a mood to Tenchu that has not fully been met or surpassed by either it's sequels or attempted competitors. What begins as a standard "Do your lord's bidding and kill people" adventure swiftly turns into a quite unnerving game of hide or die, where the atmosphere turns from one of stalking from the shadows to hiding for your life. By the latter half of the game, no matter how powerful you feel, it's always clear that there are threats that brute force alone will not save you from, and by the utterly horrifying trek of the final level, you are expected to master the game on it's terms or die, die and die trying.
It's an experience that not many games have met since for me.