This is a more detailed walkthrough. For each level there is some analysis of the points available. A list of exactly what to do to get all the scrolls, seals, and recommended achievements is shown, with the items given in the order in which you are likely to encounter them.
Level 1: Ink and Dreams
The 23,000-point benchmark needed to 3-star this level is trivial. There are 22,300 points that you cannot avoid if you complete the level, stay undetected, and get all the scrolls and seals: 32 guards either stealth killed (minimum 400 per guard during play) or left alone (400 per guard at end-level bonus), for 12,800; 3 scrolls for 1,000 each (3,000 total); 4 ninja freed at 500 each (2,000 total); 3,000 end-level bonus for no alarm; 500 for freeing Azai; 400 for a door release mechanism; and 600 points in the three undetected bonuses you cannot miss without advanced equipment.
The 700 points you still need would take real work to miss. For instance, when you're confronted with two guards standing under a chandelier, you'll add another 400 to your final score by dropping it on them (600 each for an environment kill, minus the 400 each you'd have gotten for leaving them alive). You'll inevitably find some artifacts as you go through (500 each), you can hide a multitude of bodies (150 each), any number of guards that can be distracted (150 each) or can walk by you without noticing you hidden (200 each). Just play the level, you should have no issues getting the 3 stars.
In order, here's what you need to find in the level (note that the two Dosan's Story notes only apply if you have finished that level, and you'll need to have equipped the moths and the Path of Wisdom that you unlocked; I recommend waiting until after Level 8 to run Dosan's Story, and playthrough 2 for these):
- Scroll 1: As soon as you get the grappling hook, move up the next shaft and go left rather than right to find the room with the first scroll.
- Achievement "Hisomi's Heir": As soon as you get your swords, you're put next to a guard with his back to you. I'm not entirely positive that you can even get by this guy without killing him - not without advanced equipment - and if you do manage it there will certainly be an alarm. Why try? Just kill him and get your achievement.
- Scroll 2: After you acquire the darts, you'll find a room with 2 guards standing directly under a chandelier. You can use the darts to drop the chandelier and kill both of them; a room to their left has the second scroll.
- Seal 1, 1/4: After that chandelier, you'll see a guard facing you outside and Ora will say "We need to make him look the other way." Use your darts to hit the gong on the other side of him and make him turn around.
- Dosan's Story Achievement "Couldn't Do That Before": Right above the guard just mentioned is a light. Use the moths on it for the achievement.
- Scroll 3: When Ora says "See that door? Don't open it yet," the room on the other side of that door contains the last scroll. It's on the far side of the room from you.
- Achievement "Things Better Left Unseen": immediately after scroll 3, you come to an area where one guard is walking back and forth under a light on the right side of the screen, while another guard is stationary on the left. Drop down to the left of the leftmost guard and kill him, then drag him a bit to the right. Wait until the right guard walks all the way to the right, then turns and faces you, before throwing the body into the pool of light. The guard will flip out and you'll unlock this achievement. If you have trouble killing the terrorized guard - they jump around a lot - just restart the checkpoint and do this part normally.
- Seal 1, 2/4: When Ora says "I scouted up ahead," there's a gong practically right next to you.
- Seal 1, 3/4: Immediately after the second gong, there's another about twenty feet past it and slightly above it. Be careful as this one will bring an enemy when you ring it.
- Seal 2: The enemy that gong 3 brings out comes from the building in which all four ninja are being held. There are four rooms with a ninja in each one; free them all.
- Seal 1, 4/4: The top right room in the building with the ninja has an exit vent in the top right that leads outside to the next gong. This one will also bring enemies, unless you kill them all before ringing it.
- Seal 3: You are treated to a small cutscene when you get to Azai's room. You have to remain undetected from the cutscene up to you freeing him. There are a number of ways, but the easiest by far is to just drop down behind the two guards and stealth kill one, then the other. Hide their bodies for an extra 250 each before freeing Azai, if you like. There's a handy vent right there in the floor (while dragging a body over a vent, push down and B to throw the body into the vent).
- Dosan's Story Achievement "What Could Have Been": if you equipped the Path of Wisdom (unlocked from the DLC level) during this level, you'll get this achievement when you finish.
That's it for the first level. You should have all scrolls, all seals, and all stars. You can replay the level for whatever you missed, if anything, or you can save it for later when you have more powerful techniques and equipment. I preferred going through each level until I had it completely finished, but it's entirely your preference that matters.
Level 2: Breaching the Perimeter
21,000 points are needed for three stars. There are 32 guards (minimum 12,800 points, regardless of how you handle them); add in 3,000 points for no alarms, 3,000 for the scrolls, 1,000 for the two artifacts you will be forced to run directly over, and 1,200 for 6 power boxes you have to deactivate to proceed (again, assuming standard equipment at this point), and you have 21,000 points. If you manage to unlock the Ghost and Mercy achievements, you literally cannot possibly avoid getting three stars. Even killing guards on the way through, you'd have to do some real work to avoid it. No worries on this level.
This level has the first challenge room you'll see: one of the scrolls isn't just sitting out, it's inside a little mini-puzzle. This walkthrough does mention where to find the challenge rooms, but not how to solve them; if you have trouble with any specific challenge room, consult the TA guide for the challenge rooms:
Solution for Of The Mind in Mark of the Ninja
- Achievement alert: It's possible to get "Ghost" (no kills, no alerts) and "Mercy" (no kills) in this level while simultaneously getting everything else. Go for it. If you have trouble doing that, though, don't worry about it. Level 11 is another great opportunity for it. If you don't do it there, you can always come back here or to level 1 on your New Game+ run... with some advanced equipment that makes it much easier.
- Seal 1: Start destroying lights when you see them. You need to break 20 for one of the seals. There are well over twenty in this level, so if there are a couple that are giving you trouble by drawing unwanted attention, just skip them. I did not break a single light until arriving at the transformer - the three in that room were my first. I'll keep you updated with a count starting from there as we go.
- Seal 2: When your objective becomes "Destroy the Transformer," you have one minute to get to the transformer to get one of the seals. It's not terribly difficult - it's just past a series of guards in a two-level area. You can get through here, with a little work, without killing any of the guards and in well under a minute. If you're killing guards as you go, it's a cakewalk.
- Seal 1 light count: Immediately after the "Get to the transformer in under 1 minute" unlocks, you'll find yourself in the transformer room. Here's where I started with these three lights. You probably already have some broken by now, so you should be ahead of me.
- Scroll 1: After the transformer you'll eventually come to an area with lasers to the right and below you (right after you take out a power box to deactivate some electrical wires hanging in your way). Take out the power boxes to these lasers and keep moving to the next area, where one guard is standing to the right of two doorways. Above him, slightly closer to you than to the guard, is a vent in the ceiling. Follow it and you'll find yourself in your first challenge room. Complete the challenge to get the first scroll.
- Seal 1 light count: After the transformer, you'll get the objective "Get inside the security tower". At this point I had 6 lights broken.
- Scroll 2: When you enter the security tower, you'll get a chapter title "A Spire of Glass and Steel". Immediately go back out the vent you entered from and head as far left as you can. The second scroll is here, one story below the vent you just exited, and a level above ground level.
- Seal 3, Seal 1 light count: Your objective as you enter the security tower should become "Scale the Skyscraper". At this point I had 13 lights broken. You must remain undetected from this point until the end of the level. It's okay if you kill guards (unless you're going for "Ghost" and "Mercy"), but you cannot set off an alert if you want that last seal.
- Seal 1 light count: I broke my 20th light and finished that seal soon after entering the 17th floor. There are many lights left if you're behind my count, though.
- Scroll 3: When you hear a voice announce they are turning the lights on for floor 19, you're close to the last scroll. You should be exiting a vent on the right side of a room. The room to the left of that has an exit to the far left of its upper story. To get there, keep in mind that you can jump up behind the the guy standing there on the upper floor looking out over the lower floor. It looks like a floor - it is - but you can jump through it and land behind him, then jump up and grapple over his head. The exit is straight up from there, but the last scroll is through a vent on the left.
Check that you have all scrolls, stars, and seals before moving on (unless you plan on replaying later with better equipment). I'm sure you've noticed by now that your awards all turn gold when you have them all.
Level 3: The Trail of Shadow
You need 34,000 points in this one. There are 57 guards, so you automatically have 22,800 points minimum just for killing them or leaving them, as long as you stay undetected. Throw in the 3,000 scroll points, the 3,000 no-alarm points, and the minimum 1,250 points you'll get from hiding 5 bodies in dumpsters (one of the seals), and you're already at 28,200. The last 6,000 points are surprisingly trivial. You'll be hiding bodies, distracting guards, and any number of other things that gain you points as you go. You would probably get this without paying attention, but a little effort should ensure you pass 34k easily.
One note: unlike guards, dogs do not give you points at the end of the level for having been left alive. I'm not encouraging animal cruelty... but I'm not discouraging it in this case, either.
- Seal 1, 1-3/5: Although it's the last seal listed, you'll need to start work on hiding bodies in dumpsters first. By the time you enter the first building, you will have passed three dumpsters. Every one of those should be filled with a guard's body.
- Scroll 1: The first time you pick a lock, you're close to the first scroll. Be forewarned: it can be a pain in the ass. Once you've picked that lock, go left and proceed up the staircase, making a right one level up. You'll have another lockpick at the last door, and the scroll is on the other side of that door. It's guarded by a laser. Time it: open the door as soon as it's safe, RUN, pick up the scroll, RUN, close the door. It can be done without setting off the alarm. Your other option is slightly cheap but very effective: run over, pick up the scroll, and when the alarm goes off, reset your checkpoint. You keep the scroll but not the points from it.
- Seal 1, 4/5: You'll almost immediately encounter your first shield-bearing enemy. Below him is another dumpster and some guards; one of them should be dead and in that dumpster by the time you leave.
- Scroll 2: After that first shield guy and the dumpster, head all the way to the right and into a small vent. You will encouter the second challenge room and your second scroll in this level.
- Upgrade flag: This isn't really scroll- or seal-related, but you get your first upgrade opportunity here. You'll probably have plenty of points to spend, but I'd ignore "Rising Snake" entirely. Combat upgrades are useless and you'll want those points later. Unlock "Hangman's Hymn" and "Emperor's Abyss".
- Seal 2: Immediately after your upgrades you'll get to the part that marks the beginning of your next seal: get to the comm tower without being detected. This is also a good grinding place for Manipulator (see next point). You'll get the little notifier that the seal is available, and Ora will make a comment about all the guards around the tower. If you didn't get your upgrades yet, backtrack about 10 feet and look for a flag-bearing structure you can press B on. From here, just make your way undetected to the tower. There are about a dozen viable avenues, and if you're killing people it's pretty straightforward. Don't forget you have noisemakers if you need them, though.
- Achievement "Manipulator": If you want to grind out your equipment distractions for the Manipulator achievement (distract 25 guards with equipment), the area before the comm tower is good. You can throw noisemakers until you run out (keep in mind each guard can only give you credit for one distraction), then reload the checkpoint and repeat until you've unlocked the achievement. Alternatively, wait and see if you unlock it naturally. I carried smokebombs (you're about to get these) for essentially the rest of the game, making it difficult for me to get equipment distractions. You can always do this grinding in your second playthrough if you don't finish it before then, and hopefully you'll need fewer distractions by then.
- Seal 2 5/5, Seal 3: After your next little area, you'll find smokebombs at the bottom of the building below the vent you'll be entering. Soon after entering, you'll spot the courier, and you'll be going for both your remaining seals. One of them is stuffing one more guard's body in a dumpster. You'll find one as you trail the courier. The other seal can be a bit tricky: you need to kill all six guards between spotting the courier and the next checkpoint (not including the courier, who you cannot touch), and none of them can sound an alarm. It's fairly easy to trail along behind him and start taking them out once he's past, but the last guy can be tricky because of the dog that's right there. A checkpoint reset takes you back to where you first see the courier if you mess up.
- Scroll 3: Finally, your last scroll takes place after you move an elevator out of your way, soon after the very short cutscene when you catch up with the courier. Once you've gotten the elevator to move down and you can go up the shaft, you'll be in a room with two pairs of sweeping lasers. In the middle is a grapple point; directly below the grapple point is a vent that leads to the last scroll.
You'll have another upgrade opportunity soon. I recommend picking up Improved Lockpicks, Twilight Gate, and Bat's Prey if available.
Level 4: A Change in Course
21,500 points are needed for 3 stars. There are only 24 guards - this is a short level - so guards and scrolls and the no-alert bonus combine for about 15,600 at minimum. Like the last level, it is possible to go through undetected and not get this, but again it's not likely, especially if you get all the seals and go for the Crimson Haiku achievement as well. Just hide bodies as you go, but don't go out of your way. You have some more entertaining ways to kill guards now, start using them to pick up bonus points.
Level checklist (includes seals, scrolls, and the Crimson Haiku and Tactical Espionage Action achievements):
- Achievement "Well, I Think It's Interesting": If you have turned on commentary in your settings, then you'll see a speech bubble right when the level starts. Hit it with a dart for this achievement.
- Achievement "Crimson Haiku", 1/5: The first guard you'll see can be killed with your newly acquired Hangman's Hymn technique. Get above him on the grappling point, dangle down until he's directly below you, then strike. You'll wind up stringing him up from the grappling point. You can also knock him back down with your darts and hide the body in the nearby vent for extra points. That's your first variety of stealth kill for Crimson Haiku.
- Achievement "Tactical Espionage Action": MAKE SURE you go in the room beneath that guard to pick up the spike mines. At this point, you'll finally have three different items equipped. With your darts, target the light above where the guard was; without letting go of the left trigger, switch to your distraction item (left on the d-pad), target somewhere with Y, switch to your attack item (right on the d-pad), target with Y, and let go of the trigger for your achievement.
- Achievement "Crimson Haiku", 2/5: The next guard gets a vanilla stealth kill, unless you can find some other way to dispose of him. That's variety #2 of the five you need.
- Achievement "Crimson Haiku", 3-5/5, Scroll 1, Seal 1: The next room has two normal guards, a shield-carrying guard, and a dog. The first scroll is also in this room at the bottom right, beneath the two guards talking. You can get the "terrify a guard" seal, the scroll, a Bat's Prey kill, a Hound's Slumber kill, and a Leap of Faith kill all in this room for the most effective use of the guards, although you'll have more opportunities for many of these later in the level. Step-by-step, if you're interested:
If you don't unlock Crimson Haiku having gotten those five different kills, don't worry, we'll get an Emperor's Abyss kill later and that will do it.
- Seal 1, Gas valve 1: When you're told to start opening gas "vents" (I'll be calling these valves to prevent confusing them with the vents you crawl through), keep in mind you'll be told you can leave after 3, but you need all 6 for the seal. All of them are accessible from the elevator shaft, which I'll use as a starting point for all 6. Go through the first vent on your right from the bottom and follow it around. After the valve, you'll be able to jump right back in the shaft.
- Seal 1, Gas valve 2: back down to the second vent from the bottom on your left (the first one goes the same place but this is faster).
- Scroll 2: At valve two, move one room to the right (you should have come from here) and go up into the vent above you. The scroll is sitting in the vent. Go back down to easily get back to the elevator shaft.
- Seal 1, Gas valve 3: back from the shaft, the next vent up the right side. Do not return back the way you came; instead follow the vent along the top of the room all the way to the right and up to enter a larger room that has the next valve.
- Seal 1, Gas valve 4: the valve is sitting right in the middle of this room. Before you bother with it:
- Achievement "Crimson Haiku", 6/5: An Emperor's Abyss kill is easy to obtain here. There's a guard walking above you. Exit the grate and stand immediately right of it, wait for the guard to get close enough to hear you run, then run back to the grate and enter it. He will come investigate, when he walks across the grate use the X button when prompted. If you still don't get the achievement, don't worry. You will almost certainly get it through natural gameplay in one of the next three chapters.
- Scroll 3: In a challenge room, through a vent immediately to the right once you exit the grate. Walk over and enter the challenge room to obtain the third scroll. Again, see the TA solution for the challenge room if you have difficulties.
- Seal 2: The second seal goal is to get two of the guards to investigate a noise or otherwise come underneath the chandelier in this room. I did this by sitting on one of the grappling points to the side of the chandelier and throwing noisemakers until they got the message. Once they're in place, one dart to the chandelier kills both of them, nets you plenty of points, and gets you your seal. This can be tricky if you're as impatient as I am. It is easier with noisemakers, which you can replenish or switch to at the nearby upgrade point (look for the flag alone by itself in a room to the left of the elevator shaft). Don't forget to open the vent once you're done.
- Seal 1, Gas Valve 5: back down in the shaft to the left, and you should be looking at the upgrade point. You'll need smoke bombs coming up, so grab them now. This will wrap around and take you to this valve. Be careful, the checkpoint here is further back than you would probably like.
- Seal 1, Gas Valve 6: Back to the elevator shaft, and the topmost vent on the the left leads to a single room with the last gas valve. You need a smoke bomb to get into the room. From there you can disable the power so you have some time, but you'll still need another bomb to exit as the power doesn't turn off the laser on the door. Alternatively, you can use one bomb, jump out, get the valve, and jump back in - but only if you have Superior Lockpicks. Even then it's a tight window. That's your last seal.
That's it. Run when told to - she's not kidding, you need to get the hell out of there.
Level 5: The Fall of Hessian Tower
You just need 19,000 points, and again there are only 24 guards. Minimum score (undetected) of 15,600 if you get the scrolls, not even including the power switches and other things you're forced into. No issues here.
- Seal 1: Do not break lights in this level. You will be awarded a seal for not breaking lights when you reach the final room, at which point you can break them if you feel like it.
- Scroll 1: Toward the beginning, when you enter a room with 3 motion sensors that you can crawl above and then turn off with a switch, there is a vent on the far right side of the room at the bottom. It takes you to a challenge room for your first scroll in this level.
- Upgrades: You should see the upgrade point, but if Ora mentions the elevator and you didn't see it, retreat back to your right until you stumble on it, out on the balcony a couple of rooms away. If you can, you should pick up Grim Harbinger, which will make one of the seals easier, and Brief Shadow, which is extremely helpful for the rest of the game. In the 360 version of the game, I did exactly that. In this version, I was unable to buy Grim Harbinger until I'd completed the level once. You can complete the level and restart it to use Grim Harbinger, or you can go for this last seal on your second playthrough, or you can use Hangman's Hymn. You should already have Hangman's Hymn. Both methods are shown below for Seal 2.
- Scroll 2: After you go directly across the bottom of the elevator shaft, you'll enter a room with a few lasers. On the top left is a horizontal laser moving up and down. If you time it correctly, you can run under the laser, pick up the scroll, and run back before it hits you. Have your smoke bombs equipped (if you have them), and if you are nervous about making it out, throw one toward the right side of the laser to buy you some time.
- Seal 2: After you bypass the elevator, the next room has a grappling point that you can hang a guard from and scare the other guard. This is much easier with Grim Harbinger. I'll let you try this on your own, but if you need help, here's the way I did it with Grim Harbinger: Drop into the room, hang from the platform you land on until you can drop on the guard and kill him. Drag him right until you're under the grapple point, then grapple up to it without dropping him to hang him from it. Drop straight down, wait for the guard under you to be directly under you, then run for two steps and calmly walk right as far as you can without being killed. He will look up and see the guard, then become terrified. And without Grim Harbinger (with Hangman's Hymn, one or the other is required): From the checkpoint, move very quickly, throwing a smoke bomb against the ceiling at the laser point so you can grapple through the smoke to the grapple point. Immediately dangle down and hit X as soon as prompted to grab the guard and string him up. Drop straight down, wait for the guard under you to be directly under you, then run for two steps and calmly walk right as far as you can without being killed. He will look up and see the guard, then become terrified. After the guard is terrified, you can proceed normally or reset the checkpoint if you're going for a no-kill run.
- Scroll 3: After the second seal, you'll come up to a room with two guards facing the entrance, and you can drop into a vent to move under them and come up behind them. The scroll is in a room above this one, accessible through any of the three vents in the ceiling.
- Seal 3: You'll get seal 3 automatically if you get through the level undetected. Technically, it's only vital that you get from the cutscene showing Karajan leaving Kelly in charge until the end.
- Achievement "The Mercenary": This is a progression achievement that will unlock at the end of the level.
Level 6: An Ancestral Home
You need 29,000 points, and there are 40 guards. You'll get 16,000 points for them, and another 3,000 each for no alerts and for the scrolls. You also get bonuses for getting into the castle and finally exiting the level, for another 3,000 total. You'll have no problem getting the rest of the points you need - another trivial 3 stars.
I recommend you outfit yourself with spike mines (makes an achievement easier) and whatever distraction equipment you like (I prefer the upgraded smoke bombs). Level checklist (includes seals, scrolls, and the three achievements):
- Achievement "Deadly Shadows"/Achievement "Snare"/Seal 1: Soon after starting the level, Ora will make the comment "How are you going to get in there," and you'll be told the optional seal "Sneak into the castle without detection" is available. Before you worry about that, get all of these simultaneously. Stealth kill the first guard, wait until the other guard starts off to the right, then drag the first guard's body to the dumpster. Pushing B once will throw him in, then pushing it again will make you jump in and toss him out onto the ground. Wait for guard 2 to spot him and run over; when he arrives, stealth kill him from inside the dumpster to get all of these at once. You should get Deadly Shadows from killing a guard while hidden in a dumpster, and Snare and a seal have the same requirement: lure a guard over for a stealth kill using another guard's body. Oddly, I only received Deadly Shadows and the first seal - then reset my checkpoint, repeated the exact same action, and got the other achievement.
- Seal 2: From that spot, you just need to get to the top of the area and through the door without detection. The easiest approach is probably to stealth kill everybody in the area.
- Scroll 1: A little while later, you'll turn off a machine that has sweeping lasers guarding it and you'll exit the castle and scale the wall. When you get to the top, go left past one guard, and when you get to the far left there's a vent on the floor leading to the first scroll.
- Scroll 2: From scroll 1, head right, past where you came up to this area. The floor will slope down, level out, then slope down again; drop down there. Go left, drop down, head right a bit and drop down again. Use the crate at the bottom to block the lasers on your right, and the other crate to jump up to the wall on the right of the scroll that is above you.
- Seal 3: When you enter the catacombs (the words "The Catacombs" will splash across your screen), stealth kill every single guard from that point on. There are seven.
- Scroll 3: After you kill the first catacomb guard, head left all the way, down, move a crate to the right to jump up, and then keep heading left until you find a challenge room that has the last scroll.
- Achievement "The Worst Allies": After you've killed four guards, the last three are together in a room that you open by breaking a machine. This is where you'll need that spike mine. Throw it down right at the machine, then break the machine and go up to hide. The first guard will be killed and terrify the other two; inevitably one will kill the other and you'll pop this achievement. Unfortunately this does not count as a stealth kill, so you'll need to reset your checkpoint and do this again with a different technique. Upgraded smoke bombs are nice since they all come out together.
Level 7: Above a Bottomless Chasm
You need 15,000 points, there are 25 guards, and you literally can't miss this if you get the scrolls and the bonus for not alerting anyone, which together total 16,000. Even with a couple of alerts, you're likely to get this.
I found the upgrade to the gas bombs to be less useful here because many of the guards have gas masks and don't react except to start looking around. This is especially a problem in the last room, which is really the only difficult part of the level. However, it does still cut off their vision, so I still used them here.
- Scroll 1: Early on, you drag a big iron crate out of the way to progress. Immediately to the right of this crate, there is another crate you can drag out of the way to reveal the path to the next scroll.
- Seal 1: You need to kill three gas mask guards while they're standing in the poisonous gas. You get an opportunity pretty early on, when you set the first crate in motion. There are two there. At the next moving crate, there's one more. Just be careful to move fast when you take these guys out, you can't stay in the gas long.
- Seal 2: The next crate is at the bottom of a shaft, to the right of some stairs, and there are two guards nearby. You must ride the crate to the top without getting off. Pull the lever next to the crate, and grapple to the bottom of it. Move to the right side of the crate to stay hidden from the first guard you'll pass; after you pass him, move to the left side of the crate. Once you've passed the second guard, move back to the right to stay unseen by the third guard. Stay on the crate long enough to be awarded the seal. Before you go on:
- Scroll 2: The last guard you passed while riding the crate is standing on a platform to the right of a vent. Go in the vent to find a challenge room and the second scroll.
- Scroll 3: You'll soon enter a room with three lasers, two crates, and three switches. Exit to the left, at the top of the room, to make your way across a chasm to the last scroll.
- Seal 3: In the last room, you'll push two switches and then pull a lever to start a timer that opens the exit from the level. Good news: that lever is a checkpoint. You need to kill three people and hide their bodies in this room before leaving. Your choice of method, of course, but if you want the way I did it:
That's it for this level. No real opportunities for achievements here, unless you're still working on previously mentioned achievements. The last room is kind of a pain, I'd recommend just staying hidden as much as possible rather than trying to kill everyone. Leaving a body unhidden typically results in an alarm, by the way. The upgraded smoke bombs are not terribly helpful for incapacitation, but they do briefly cut off line-of-sight.
Level 8: The Inner Keep
You need 29,000 points, there are 42 guards, and there are so many opportunities to stack up points here that the difference between the 22,800 minimum for no alerts and all scrolls and that 29,000 is practically nothing. Many of your kills are best done from under or above guards, and get you extra points, there are a number of power junctions to disable, and it's easy to hide lots of bodies here.
I'd take the upgrade for terror darts first. Soft cloth tabi are helpful as well, and ravenous insects are really useful, although here I'd use the terror darts just because of the seals in this level.
- Seal 1: Terrorize a guard into shooting another guard. Any time you see two guards, you can probably get this with the terror dart. One particularly easy place: as soon as you get the checkpoint that splashes the words "Secluded Hallways", open the door on the right, then before the next doorway (you should be outside, with the next door being a lockpick door), drop down. You'll be above two guards, use the terror dart on the rightmost of them, then go back up out of sight and wait. He'll almost always kill two other guards (easy points!), wait until he does before you go down and finish him off.
- Achievement "No One Lives Forever"/Seal 2, part 1: Kill 3 elites. The first time you see an elite, the game will draw your attention to him. Go under him through the vent, then right outside of the vent, take out the lamp on the other side of the door to pull him over to the right. You'll be standing right next to a switch, wait for the elite to get under the wires and hit the switch. The wires will stun him, when they are done crackling jump up and finish him off.
- Seal 2, part 2: immediately after that, you'll see an elite talking to a regular guard; drop the chandelier on them.
- Seal 2, part 3: from that spot, go right through the lower vent. You'll find a lone guard, after you take him out, you'll be standing over two more elites and a gas-mask guard. I found the easiest way to proceed is to move to the far right of that room, drop down so you're clinging to the ceiling above all of them, then use the terror dart on the gas-mask guard, who will kill both of the elites for you and finish the seal. You can finish him off yourself. If you wind up darting an elite, he'll kill the gas mask guard. If that happens, go through the vent above you to your right and follow that around to a switch that will release gas and kill the elites. This makes the next step a little more irritating, though:
- Scroll 1: from the room that had the two elites you can go into another room to the left. The scroll is there. If you've released gas, you'll have to move fast.
- Upgrades: after you move back through the spot where the chandelier was, move past a crate and some lasers to find an upgrade spot. This will replenish your consumables.
- Scroll 2: from the upgrade flag, move to the far right vent in the ceiling, which will take you to a challenge room and the second scroll in this level.
- Seal 3: You'll soon get to a checkpoint that splashes the title "The Helipad" across your screen. From that point, you'll need to remain undetected up until you've done either of the two methods that disables the chopper.
- Scroll 3: After you disable the chopper, move toward the level end. The level end is marked with the next little yellow flame-looking thing like many checkpoints you've seen before. Do not touch the checkpoint; instead, drop down just to the right of that room. Once down, you'll see vent on the lower part of the wall on your left. The scroll is in there.
Side Mission: Dosan's Story
At this point, I recommend doing the side mission Dosan's Story if you haven't already. If you prefer not to take a break from the main narrative, that's fine. Just keep in mind that the three "Dosan's Story" achievements detailed in upcoming level 9 will have to wait until your second playthrough.
There is no achievement-related reason to get the points, the seals, or the scrolls, although all three are present in the level.
- Achievement "Behind the Curtain": Turn on commentary in your settings when you start the level. Right after the first enemy, you'll see a speech bubble hanging in the air. Hit it with a dart for this achievement.
- Achievement "Back to Bed with You": Immediately after this, you'll see two guards above on platforms and one below. Take the top guys out, and drop one of them below - start dragging him by pushing B, then push down on your left joystick and B again to let him fall. Make sure that you don't throw him right in front of the bottom guard, who will immediately freak out and start shooting. Instead, drop him safely away from the guard and wait for him to come across his unconscious friend. He'll revive him; drop down and take them both out. This achievement unlocks when you take out the revived guard.
- Achievement "Days Long Past": When you finish the level, you'll get this achievement.
Level 9: A Blade at His Neck
The 19,000 mark for three stars is nearly pointless. I didn't even stay undetected on my second time playing the entire game (replaying to write the guide, you're welcome) and still beat it handily. There are 29 guards, the minimum for getting past them or killing them and getting all the scrolls and staying undetected is 17,600. Given the doors you have to open, etc., I'm not sure you can even stay undetected and not get three stars. If you walk around killing everyone and hiding their bodies, you'll beat the score by 5,000 points or more without effort.
No real compelling upgrades, other than the ones I've mentioned. Bloody Whisper can be useful, especially if you're carrying around the upgraded smoke bomb, but it doesn't really help that much. I carried around the upgraded smoke bombs and ravenous insects, both of which come in handy, but I'm sure other upgrades would work just as well. Still, don't bother with the combat-oriented upgrades, which are useless. Save your points for later.
Level checklist (the Dosan's Story achievements require that you have finished that side mission, or at least gotten far enough to unlock the two pieces of equipment unique to it, and that you've equipped both):
- Seal 1, part 1: Pickpocket both keys. There are two keys you need to retrieve, both on guards. You need to get close to the guards and pickpocket them (B, then follow button prompt). You'll see key 1 immediately. Go around him and his two buddies above him, drop down to the right, and in the floor vent outside you'll find a way to disable the lasers. Then you can go back above him and dangle down from the anchor point to pickpocket the key. If you have the DLC equipment, don't hurt these guys yet...
- Dosan's Story Achievement "Cordyceps": back up to the anchor point, and hit the center guy with a toxic fungus. The other two should turn to investigate and you'll get your achievement.
- Scroll 1: After the first pickpocket, you'll go to the left of them and up into a ceiling vent (this may be blocked by a crate if you didn't move it earlier; just go back around, move it to the right, then come back). To the left, inside the vent, is the first scroll.
- Scroll 2: Back past where you pickpocketed the first key, you'll move back outside to the right and then head up. The door you can now open with the key is left, but up on the right side you'll see a vent that leads to a challenge room and the second scroll.
- Seal 2, part 1: Get smelled by all the dogs. After you go past the first door with the keycard, go down the first vent you see. Stay down all the way to the left, and you'll come out in an area with an elite guard and a dog. You can easily be smelled and the get away by clinging to the ceiling below the dog until he's past, then pop up (he'll smell you immediately, you'll get the notice by the game) and then back down and hide in the vent.
- Dosan's Story Achievement "The Humble Moth": Back to the elite with the dog, hit him with a moth and then take care of him for the achievement.
- Seal 2, part 2: All the way left and scale the structure until you see the sleeping dog and one guard. Your choice on how to wake up the dog - I threw the ravenous insects at the guard, whose death cries woke him right up. Run back left and hide on the wall above the entrance to that area. Wait until the dog comes close enough to smell you, then scale the structure to remain out of sight. Or just drop down and kill the dog when it gets close enough.
- Scroll 3: From the second dog, just keep going up the structure on the left side. It's immediately above that area, as high as you can get on the building's left side.
- Seal 1, part 2: The second guy isn't even facing the right way. As long as you take out the two guards silently, he won't even turn around. Just smoke bomb them and stealth kill both of them while they're still disabled. Walk over to the key carrier and pickpocket him at your leisure.
- Upgrades: after you open the next door with a keycard, you'll see a crate. Push it right and then climb up on the small building you just went through to find an upgrade point. There's nothing necessarily worth buying, but it fills up your consumables.
- Seal 2, part 3: The last dog is just on the other side of where you pushed the crate. It's easy enough to jump inside his smell radius and then run off, or just kill him by your choice of methods. Seal done.
- Seal 3: You'll come to the final room and see Karajan protected by a door. From this moment on, you have to stay undetected. You'll need to make your way to the top of the inside of the two towers to the right to power down two doors that protect a generator that apparently is keeping Karajan's door closed. The last seal will unlock when you get to Karajan.
You'll also unlock the achievement Karajan's Fate when you finish the level, regardless of the seals and scrolls and points that you have when you finish.
Level 10: A Shattered Stronghold
This point total of 31,000 is probably the first challenge in the game. Still, you can get this on your first playthrough if you keep it in mind as you play. There aren't a lot of places to hide bodies, and not a lot of bonus-kill stealth spots either, so your best bet for points is ninja tools - ravenous insects or terror darts, flashbangs, distracting guards with the environment, and so on. There are several upgrade points here, use them for refills constantly. If you can go through and get the no-kill bonus of 5,000, along with your scrolls and no-alert bonus, you'll probably get it, but it's a tough level to play without killing your first time through. I'd recommend killing everyone that moves in as creative a manner as possible, and hiding their bodies when you can.
Note that the Dosan's Story costume, Path of Wisdom, will enable stealth knockouts rather than kills - but it costs you farsight. I'd pass, but it's an option for the no-kill bonus. In the previous game, you could get a 600 point "environment kill" bonus for throwing a dead body into a spike pit. Even better than hiding the body! Sadly, it doesn't work in this game.
A lot of the guards here don't look like they're wearing gas masks but are nevertheless invulnerable to upgraded smoke bombs - plus the night-vision goggles most are wearing let them see right through it. I recommend the flashbangs instead, which temporarily stun night-vision guards. I was worried about points, so I distracted a lot of the guards, and spammed the checkpoints for ravenous insects. You only get two, but if you're near an upgrade point you can refill. Lots of points - 600 for the kill, 250 for "hiding" the body (the insects eat it up!), and 300 for terrifying a nearby guard. Then the second insects on him for another 850. As a result, I wound up at 43,900, and I still had points left available. 31,000 shouldn't be a problem.
- Scroll 1: After a bit, you'll encounter a sandstorm, and Ora will remind you to use your Farsight. The next building - the one next to you on your right - has an entrance to an underground area on the far right side of the building at ground level. When you get down there, make your way past the tripwires to the scroll at the left side.
- Once you get to your first objective (Dosan), you'll be given three new ones. You can do these in any order. I'll be describing a route that goes above ground to the nearest point, then stays up and goes to the farthest right, then goes underground to get the last objective on the way back. You can do these in any order.
- Upgrade: Stay above ground, using the roof whenever possible. You'll eventually be forced to enter a building in which you'll immediately find an upgrade point and a yellow checkpoint flame.
- Seal 1: Get Dosan's tools without being detected. The checkpoint will call attention to Dosan's needles. Just get to them without being detected for this seal. Cheap tip: you can, if you have trouble with this area, keep throwing ravenous insects at guards and then going back to the upgrade point to refill them. You'll terrorize nearly every guard in the place as well as get 600 points per kill, and it's pretty damn easy.
- Scroll 1: Almost immediately after this - assuming you stay outside - you'll pass a guard patrolling near a gong, and then hit another upgrade point. Between the two of those things, right before the upgrade point, is access to a small indoor area below. The scroll is there, guarded by two dogs and two guards. Once again, feel free to use the upgrade point as a refill and saturate this area with ninja tools for extra points. There's no way to hide these bodies - but you can hit every one with ravenous insects if you want to take the time. The dogs here are basically free points - you don't get a bonus for leaving them alive at the end of the level, like you do guards. Kill them with ravenous insects, or kill them and then use insects on their corpses, for 650 points per dog.
- Seal 2: Get the keys without using items. Past that next upgrade point, you'll see a yellow flame checkpoint in the building to your right. There's a matching one above it on the building's roof, and you'll hit that one when you head that way. Once you've gotten there, don't use any items, including darts, until you've gotten to the bottom and taken the keys from the guard. I find it easiest to cling to the ceiling at the beginning and drop down on the first sniper, same for the second, then make my way to the bottom right area and stealth-kill the key carrier as soon as he turns his back.
- Seal 3: Get the sumi without taking damage. This one is underground, accessible either by going underground right after you leave Dosan, or just to the left of the key carrier. From "Seal 2," just described, enter the building to your left and head left inside it to find the entrance to the underground area. There's a night-vision guard that basically never stops looking where you're headed; throw a flashbang to disable him. From there it's trivial to get to the checkpoint that shows you where the sumi is. Once you've seen that, you have to get the sumi without taking damage. Just kill everyone on the screen one at a time without being spotted, you should have no issues by now. Then you'll have to use the mechanism to move the crate out of your way and quickly drop down to where the sumi is. Watch the trap right next to the mechanism.
- Scroll 3: This one is underground, far to the left of where the sumi is. Just keep going left until you're past the opportunity to go up to the surface (if you come from Dosan's side rather than the key carrier's side, you'll head left as soon as you get underground). Keep going left until there's nothing but a vent, enter it to find a challenge room and the last scroll in this level.
Level 11: Set to Flight
This is the toughest level in the game, both in gameplay and with respect to getting the points necessary for three stars. There are a few tips that might make it easier:
- When you use Serenity, you can go right through things that will kill you. For instance, at the beginning there are swinging blades you move through. You don't have to time it so they are out of the way.
- When you use Serenity and land right next to or in front of a hiding spot, you will automatically hide immediately after your jump.
- Using Serenity through an enemy gets you the 200-point "undetected" bonus.
- Assuming you're not going for a no-kill bonus, Stalkers are free points. Like dogs, they do not give you end-of-level bonuses for leaving them alive. Kill them if at all possible.
- If you kill most of the people you can with traps, distract plenty of people, and get through undetected, you should be able to beat the 17,000 requirement by two to three thousand points. It's the hardest level for points, but it's not horribly difficult if you keep it in mind as you go.
You'll notice immediately you have no weapons, no distraction items, and no attack items. You also lose any special costume you might have been wearing. You'll be doing this level with Serenity, darts, and Farsight. While it's possible to get all the points by not killing anyone throughout the level, you can't do that and get all three seals (one seal is for killing 5 people with traps, a task that will take more than one checkpoint). You should try for the points on your first run by killing everyone you can. It's not trivial, but it is very workable. It's difficult because you have no direct attack. You'll need to get adept at luring enemies into the traps all over the level. Hide their bodies as much as possible. There's no question that this is the toughest level for points that you'll face. Unlike the others, I think it's mandatory you get through without raising alerts.
- Seal 1: Escape the first stalkers without being seen. You'll have to get through the first area without stalkers spotting you. You'll need to do this for the points, anyway. The stalkers are on high alert, so they're a real pain. Stay away from them, and don't count on hiding spots to keep you hidden if they get close. You'll need to make your choice right away as to whether you're trying to get through without killing anyone or not, because if you aren't, there's a perfect trap kill on the first stalker - just drop a trap right on her. You must go through this building, but you could easily bypass the entire next building with creative use of Serenity to scale it and cross on the roof... if you didn't need the next scroll, which is in that building.
- Scroll 1: Enter the second building and get past the two stalkers to get to the scroll at the top left of the area. If you can kill one or both of them with the traps, so much the better.
- Seal 2 and Seal 3: Kill 5 enemies with traps/Get past bandits without taking damage. For some reason, the stalkers you encounter during the first seal do not count. Once you've exited the underground tunnel, take care to lure guards into traps. Drop them on the ground with a dart and wait for the fireworks. This next area here is by far the hardest part in the game, if you're trying to get both available seals and not raise an alarm. The problem is that the sniper guarding the exit from this area can only be killed by dropping a trap on his head, which then alerts another guard on the same level that comes over and sounds an alarm. Goodbye, 3,000 points. I found that distracting him with the gong or the light near him keeps him occupied long enough for you to throw the switch and drop the trap on the sniper with him out of earshot. The trick then is getting out of there before he gets back an raises an alarm. It may take you a few tries, but it's workable. Another approach I tried with some success is hitting him with a dart directly and using Serenity (while still in the same pause in time) to get out of the area, then go straight to the exit.
- Scroll 2: Once you exit the second underground area, you'll get a new splash title "Path to the Hills". Immediately up the hill on your right is a vent in the ground that leads to a challenge room and another scroll.
- Scroll 3: Back outside, head to the right and go down at the first opportunity. You'll get a new objective - sneak past the stalkers. From the entrance, you'll need to head right while staying on the top level. Follow the ceiling to the right and you can't miss it. There's a stalker that can be a problem, trapping you near the scroll. Kill her with the conveniently located trap if you can.
When you finish this level, you'll be given the progression achievement Escape.
Level 12: The Return
While the point total here is harder than most levels in the game, it's much less difficult than the level you just finished. You need 27,000 points, and you should have no issues as long as you kill guards as creatively as you can and hide their bodies at all possible points. Take care that you actually get your point bonus; sometimes I had trouble registering. Watch for it to come up, and if it doesn't, move the body just a bit. That usually pops it. Stay undetected at all costs. You lose 800 immediately and the 3,000 point bonus is gone; unlike most other levels, that may end a 3-star run.
- Scroll 1/Achievement "Of The Mind": At the second train, you can go left or right. Go right. The train briefly illuminates a light-sensitive barrier on the right; you have to wait until a train is coming and then quickly drop past it and under the train to your last challenge room. If you've solved all of the other challenge rooms to this point, finishing this one will unlock the Of The Mind achievement.
- Seal 1: Stay undetected until you get to your equipment. Just stay undetected. You'll eventually get to where your equipment is, and you'll get the first seal in the level.
- Upgrade point/Achievement "Inner Heaven": just to the right of the weapons is an upgrade point. Switch over to your normal costume, unlock the upgraded cardboard box, and select it. Drop back down two rooms down to find a guard. Select the box with your d-pad, then run two steps toward him and hit Y immediately. He'll come toward you, when he gets in range, stealth kill him from inside the box for the achievement. Go back up to the upgrade point and re-equip Serenity by selecting the Path of the Mark costume.
- Scroll 2: Ora will mention the area being covered with stalkers and will suggest you go down into the tunnels to avoid them. Don't. The building immediately on your right has the second scroll at the top. Enter the building, make your way out the right side, and get all the way up to the very top, watching the stalkers and using serenity to avoid them and quickly get up the building. The scroll is in a horizontal passage at the very top of the building, you'll need to enter it from the right side.
- Scroll 3/Achievement "Haiku": Back down at ground level to the right of this building is a gong, and just past it is access to an underground passage. One floor below ground level, find a vent on the right side that will go to a room with the final scroll. If you've kept up with all the scrolls, that will give you the Haiku achievement.
- Seal 2: Stealth kill 3 hallucinations in 15 seconds. Indirect kills and tool kills do not count. The next building after scroll 3 has a stalker and a shielded guard protecting the left entrance. Ring the gong, which will alert the guard but not the stalker. Wait for him to pass and enter the building without killing. You'll get a checkpoint at the right side of this building. From this point you have 4 guards available; one just outside the left door, one just outside the right door, and two more a little to the right of that. Dealer's choice, but I found it easiest to take out the one outside each door and then hit the grapple point above the next patrolling guard. You may have to reset your checkpoint if the next guard sees you kill the third guy, but you've unlocked the seal.
- Seal 3/Achievement "Perfection": Stealth kill from a hiding spot soon after you move to it with Serenity. You'll move over a bunch of enemies using grapple points after the last seal, winding up on top of a tall but narrow structure that has a single guard and a dragon statue on top of it. Cling to the left side and wait until he starts walking away from you. As soon as he gets just past the dragon, use Serenity to move to it and immediately stealth kill him from the hiding spot. Assuming you've been keeping up with seals, you'll get the Perfection achievement on the kill.
There's plenty of level left, and lots of opportunities for points. Make sure and hide bodies at all times, and try to keep your points up. When you finish the level, you should unlock Descendent of Iga if you have gotten all three stars in this level and all previous levels.
Epilogue: A Moonlit Garden
No points, no seals, no scrolls. Play it out and get your final progression achievement: Fated.
Congratulations! New Game + awaits you. You may have another couple of achievements left, unless you unlocked them in normal play. Next page!
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