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In most stealth games, the game rates you as having done the best job if you get in and out without anyone being suspicious, and without killing anyone. Mark of the Ninja is no different - there's a score bonus for being undetected, and a score bonus for making it through an entire level without making a kill.

However, there are also large score bonuses for murdering people in particularly brutal fashion. For instance, consider a vent kill:

  • 600 points for the kill (a "Prowling Spider")
  • 250 points for hiding the body (automatic, I drag him into the vent)

If I avoid him instead, though, I just get +400 at the end of the level, plus if I manage to do the entire level perfectly I might get +3000, but with 20 or more guards per level, this works out to 150 or fewer points per guard.

Stacked on top of this, I could have gotten "Undetected" (+200) by hiding in the room with him previously, and/or "Distracted" (+150) for getting him to look the other way by breaking a light for example. These bonuses can occur either way, though, so they're not useful to this discussion.

That leaves us with 850 points for a kill (or even 650 in the worst case where I don't get "fancy" about it and just stab him through the neck while his back is turned) versus ~550 for leaving him undisturbed.

It seems to me like the best idea is to murder everyone and hide their bodies. Is this the case, or are there other bonuses/points I can get from being especially sneaky and not very stabby?

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If only there was a tag for this kind of question... –  bwarner Sep 28 '12 at 21:59
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Prowling Spider doesn't always result in an automatic body hidden, you sometimes have to drag it around more. Often a body is not considered hidden until it has been thrown lower. –  CyberSkull Oct 4 '12 at 7:51
    
Yeah, if another guard notices something suspicious at the vent when you kill the first one, he may walk over and peek into the vent and see you and/or the body. –  Crowbeak Oct 8 '12 at 13:40
    
Bodies don't count as 'hidden' if they're directly below a vent. Usually if you just drag them to the side of the opening and drop them you'll get the bonus. –  GnomeSlice Jun 11 '13 at 18:45
    
A minor correction: the "no-kill" bonus varies by level but is always from 5000 to 8000 points, and never as low as 3000 (you may be thinking of the unrelated no-alarm bonus). Most levels have much more than 20 guards as well, so no-kills seems to average out to slightly less than 200 points per guard most of the time. –  jw013 Jan 1 at 23:10

5 Answers 5

up vote 10 down vote accepted

You get a bonus for finishing the level undetected even if you use distractions, so adding Distracted, Undetected, and Terrorized bonuses to the points for getting kills and hiding bodies is silly -- you can get those points regardless of whether or not you kill the guards.

The special kills that give you more brutality options and more points all have to be unlocked. When first playing the game, sneaking may be the only options a player has.

Once the special skills are unlocked you can indeed get up to 850 points for a single kill. However, not all guards can be killed using them and not all bodies can be hidden. The average number of points for each kill is lower than 850, but is likely still higher than the average for sneaking around.

So yes, it is still more profitable in terms of sheer point numbers to kill everyone you can.

The developers do include other encouragements for taking the stealth route. There is at least one outfit (I only have three outfits unlocked) which does not allow you to kill. There are also achievements for taking the stealth route.

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RE: distractions/undetected, I covered this in the question: These bonuses can occur either way, though, so they're not useful to this discussion. –  agent86 Oct 3 '12 at 15:01
    
So you did. My apologies. –  Crowbeak Oct 5 '12 at 12:36
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TL;DR: Murder=Profit. –  CyberSkull Oct 18 '12 at 16:48
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The terrorize bonus, like the distraction & undetected bonuses, can be gotten whether you kill the guard or not, and so shouldn't be factored into the calculations. –  Oblivious Sage May 28 '13 at 16:58
    
That was not in my original answer. It was edited in. Re-edited to add Terrorized to the list of things to ignore at the top. –  Crowbeak May 29 '13 at 6:07

Why just sneak, or just kill... do both (in this order)!

Undetected 200 points /// Distracted 150 points /// Terrorized 300 points /// Fancy kill 600 points /// Hide Body 250 points /// Max/guard = 1500 points

Ofc with most guards you can't manage the petafecta, but the max points/guard you can get is 1500 points.

Undetected = Having a guard walk past you hiding in a door/potted plant/(dangling from you grappling as well I think) or similar. Another trick on some guards that don't stand close to any of those, is if there is a grappling hook spot next to the guard you can usually get this bonus by standing close to him then grappling over his head.

Distracted = Use a distraction item or a lamp (I think it has to be breakable). Just hitting gongs won't work.

Terrorized = Make the guard spot a corpse dangling from a grapple hook or the much easier one, make him spot a corpse when you are using the Nightmare costume.

Fancy Kill = Fancy kills are killing through a vent, making them panic and shoot their buddies, using any ninja tool that kills, might be more ways.

Hide Body = Hide their the guards body in a side vent or drop them down a vent or toss them out of world. There are some other place as well that count, that aren't vents, they generally look like enclosed areas where you can drop a corpse.

For the elite guards and stalkers it's a bit tricker to get a lot of points by fancy stuff, you basically need to have items to stun them, and then kill them and hide their bodies. You can restock items by re-visiting any flag which allows you to re-spec on the map, they will give you full inventory again.

Edit: I just tested doing at well as I could (point wise) on the very first mission. I use Nightmare costume + Terror darts. I managed to get 50k+ points on the first mission basically doing all of the above on most of the guards.

About the undetected thingy. It seams that you can only get it in 2 ways (that I managed at least). Either having them walk past you while hiding in a background object OR jumping just above their heads and them grappling onto something. You can only get this if they are currently not looking for you (they have the ? above their head). But just lure them to a spot (with bamboo darts), wait for the ? to go away, then jump above them and grapple = 200 points ^^

Another tip for the Nightmare costume, is on large building start at the top, kill 1 guard, then start tossing down his corpse 1 level at a time. I did this on the first mission on the big building, killed 1 guard at the top with terror dart, he panicked shot his buddy, then I start tossing the corpse to lower levels, clearing the entire house leaving 1 guard / floor left cause he shoot all his buddies (600 points on friendly fire).

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There's actually 2 separate distraction bonuses and you can get both on one guard. One is "item", which noisemakers / flares. The second is "environment" which is breaking lights / setting off traps, ringing gongs, etc. The two categories are also used for the Trickster (environment) / Manipulator (item) achievements. –  jw013 Jan 1 at 23:15

I routinely kill as many soldiers as possible, and I also try to maximize the number of soldiers I terrorize, and the amount of collateral damage they cause.

I know a couple of my friends (Mana in particular) play the game without killing any soldiers at all, and I consistently score higher than them on the leaderboards.

I'm ranked much higher than all my friends on the global leaderboards

I think this is because there are so many more opportunities to score points if you take the violent route; terrorizing enemies gives you a huge bonus if you do it to as many as possible (even more if you can get them to kill each other), and stashing every body in a hiding place can rack up a score boost as well (+250 each).

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Welcome back, by the by. –  badp Apr 28 '13 at 20:03

I stealthed one level for the achievement, and as I recall my bonuses were much less than when I went around murdering people. Repeatedly.

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Your best bet for getting high scores are to get undetected, distracted, and then terrorize them before giving them that special kill...

The last armor you unlock makes this super easy, and the fully upgraded hisomu dart is amazing for crowd control.

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+1, trying to get all of those bonuses on every (most) enemy in every level is extremely time-consuming and difficult, but so rewarding when you pull it off. –  GnomeSlice Apr 28 '13 at 20:27

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