There are various ways to take out enemies. Especially on higher difficulties it's worth the trouble to defeat enemies by stealthily strangling them, or alternatively killing them with bricks to conserve your scarce ammunition.
Approach an enemy from the back by sneaking towards them, the press triangle to grab them. After this you can either kill them with a Shiv (triangle) or strangle them (Runners only, press square).
If you're discovered, use walls and other strong objects to your advantage. Should a Runner grab Joel while close to a wall, there will be more time for you to input the button presses. If Joel attacks Runners or Marauders while close to walls or objects he's likely to perform deadly moves, especially when you corner your foe against a wall or big object.
If you sneak up on a Runner with the intention of strangling them or killing them with a Shiv and they turn around the instant you wanted to grab them, Joel will throw them on the floor and crush their head with his foot. This is an instant kill, but unlike a stealthy strangle/Shiv move, this does alarm any nearby enemies, so it's not the preferred action.
Killing enemies with bricks or bottles helps to conserve ammunition, but is not soundless. Equip a brick to smash your enemy's head; in the case of a Clicker, quietly approach it from the back and smash it three times. You can also stun enemies by throwing bottles/bricks at them; rushing towards them allows you to get several melee punches in, but be careful around Clickers - they might grab you if you're not fast enough. The stun effect from a bottle/brick lasts 5 seconds.
Equip melee weapons (Wooden Sticks, Lead Pipes) to kill your opponents more effectively. Melee weapons break down and have bars to indicate how many (enemy-hitting) slashes you have left. Some melee weapons, such as the Wooden Stick can be upgraded (in a Nail Bat for example); this grants an instant-kill bar which can be used on one enemy. This (slightly bigger) bar appears under the regular bars. Most importantly, it is also a stealthy attack; other nearby enemies won't be alarmed when you kill an enemy with your upgraded melee weapon!
| SITUATION: | SECONDS: |
| Input time after grabbing a Runner | 4 |
| Time it takes to strangle a Runner | 6.5 |
| Time it takes to shiv a Runner | 2.5 |
| Time-frame to break free from Runner grapple | 2.5 |
| Time-frame to break free from Runner grapple (against wall) | 5 |
| Time-frame to break free from Clicker grapple | ~1 |