In a 16th century Japan suffering from rebellions and civil disorder, a powerful sorcerer seeks to gain ultimate power from an evil god and become unquestioned ruler.
Player characters Ayame and Rikimaru complete several missions for their master Lord Gohda in an attempt to bring peace to Japan, and eventually defeat the evil Lord Tenrai. A third player character, Tesshu, is a doctor by day and freelance assassin for justice by night. After completing Ayame and Rikimaru's quest, the player can guide Tesshu through a handful of missions and see Japan from his perspective.
The name of the game is stealth and the player is rewarded for playing the game without being seen and executing "stealth kills" by being given access to bonus weapons and items. Conversely, to attack head-on is cumbersome and unrewarding.
Tenchu: Return From Darkness also features 6 2-player co-op missions (where players can select from the three main player characters) and a versus mode that includes 20 characters, including enemies and bosses. The 2 player mode is available as split-screen or via network play.