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Even though Thief allows players to take down enemies with face-to-face melee attacks, remaining undetected is key to being successful. Not only is it one of the Thieving Challenges for every chapter, it’s also a good way to save yourself from spending too much gold on arrows.
For those looking to unlock the Moral Victory achievement, completing the game without a single kill or knockout, the shadows are not only advised, they’re essential. To help ghost your way through this dark and haunting world, check out our seven tips — in no particular order — to remain undetected.
Stay in the Shadows
Our first tip is fairly obvious. It’s also the most common way to make sure you avoid a nasty confrontation with a handful of guards. When we first started playing, it took some time to get used to how close we could get to the enemy. If you’re under the cover of darkness, a few feet is all it takes to remain hidden.
Keep an eye on the HUD in the bottom left corner of your screen. The moon icon indicates how easily you can be seen. If the icon is lit, guards are more likely to notice you. If the icon is dark, you should be safe enough to sit tight and plan your next move.
Stick to the Rooftops
Most of the danger you encounter while playing Thief is on the ground. There isn’t much opposition on the roofs and walkways throughout The City. Keep an eye out for white paint or metal grates, indicating you can climb up a wall and out of harm’s way. Even more subtle, look up for the many anchor beams that you can stick Rope Arrows to. If you’re having a hard time spotting them, use your Focus to highlight their location.
Swoop Out of Danger
All the preparation in the world won’t stop you from occasionally coming face-to-face with someone who wishes to cause you harm. When all else fails, use the swoop ability to get out of danger quickly. You can use it to ghost through troublesome light sources, close the distance on an unsuspecting guard or even back away from imminent danger. Be careful not to swoop when you’re near caged birds. Even though you can swoop near people without being detected, birds and dogs have a knack for giving you away at the worst possible times.
Hide the Bodies
Although Thief can be completed without killing or knocking out threats, obtaining all of the loot is not that simple. Sure, it could likely be done, but plundering an area is much easier when everyone else is unconscious. Just be sure to hide the bodies. While some guards remain stationary, others like to get out and stretch their legs, often returning to spoil your fun. If a guard or even a civilian spots a dead or unconscious person, they will immediately yell for help, drawing more threats to the area. A few of our favorite ways to hide bodies is to toss them down stairwells, out windows or just leave them laying in a shadow. Just like Garret can remain hidden in the dark, so can his victims.
Make Violence a Last Resort
During the prologue, Garret mentions that he only kills when he has to, never for money or fun. Players can make their lives much easier by being a ghost. If nobody knows you’re there, nobody will try to hurt you. On a less sentimental level, if you don’t leave a body laying around, it can’t be found.
Any time you attack someone, there’s always a chance something will go wrong and someone else will show up to investigate. Confrontation is chaotic. If you can avoid it and simply sneak through an area, there is a much better chance that nobody will be the wiser. The best thief is the one who was never there.
Take a Shortcut
Taking a shortcut is a great way to stay hidden. Almost every chapter of the game gives players a way to bypass several areas of trouble. The issue is that, in addition to circumventing trouble, you also leave a fair deal of loot behind. This is where risk versus reward must be taken into account. If you know that an area has a few guards with coin purses, it might be worth skipping altogether. If you’re missing out on valuable or collectible loot, that shortcut might not be as appealing.
Keep your eyes peeled for vents and anchor beams. You’ll find several in every chapter, and both offer a great way to stay out of sight. If you’re having trouble spotting them, turn on your Focus, looking both high and low for opportunities to take a shortcut.
Create a Diversion
Distractions are risky business. They let the guards know that something is up, though unless you are seen, you will remain undetected. Try throwing a bottle to pull a guard away from an area you want to pass through. If you don’t have a bottle, try the more subtle Blunt Arrow. Fire them against walls or even use them on light switches to darken an area. Even if a guard moves to turn the light back on, it might be the opportunity you needed to steal that collectible or knock him out.
There are many ways to remain undetected in Thief. No single trick or method will get the job done. Each chapter or situation calls for a new or slightly different approach.
If you have some tips of your own that you think deserve attention, let us know in the comments down below.