Nariko is the primary protagonist of Heavenly Sword and the wielder of the weapon of the same name.
Nariko was born to Shen and her mother 23 years prior to the events of Heavenly Sword, in the Year of the Fire-Horse. According to prophecy, a male was destined to be born that year and lead his clan into an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity. However, when a girl - Nariko - was born, and her mother died shortly thereafter, the clan believed the gods had forsaken them, and that they were cursed and doomed to impending destruction. Nariko became a pariah among her own people, when, in her eyes she "should have been their princess." Shen was the only person who seemed to care for her, albeit in a remote, distanced way, until Kai. Shen would tutor Nariko in the ways of the warrior. She would prove to be an excellent pupil, to the point where she is the best fighter in the clan by the events of Heavenly Sword. Several years before the game, Nariko came across Kai, the last member of a clan slaughtered by Flying Fox on orders from King Bohan. The clan took the orphaned girl into their ranks and treated her as one of their own. It was Nariko, however, who developed a deep relationship with Kai, seeing similarities between them in that they both lost their mothers and were outcasts amongst the clan. By the time Heavenly Sword takes place, the two are as close as sisters, willing to risk their lives for one another, if necessary.
Events of Heavenly Sword
At the beginning of the game, Nariko is fighting the onslaught of Bohan's military, slaying any soldier that comes into contact with her. This stage, which reappears in a later Chapter, teaches the player how to attack and use Superstyles, specialized combos that deal damage to large amounts of enemies. Eventually, a red haze will form around the game screen, and a heartbeat can be heard; this indicates that Nariko is near death. The following cutscene depicts Nariko surrounded by enemies, with Bohan looking on in the background. During this scene, Nariko narrates, stating that her clan believed the Sword was forged by the gods for the gods, and that no mortal can wield it without losing their life. This statement is proven to be correct, as runes from the Sword begin to overtake her, sapping her health until she finally succumbs to the Sword's immense power. Bohan sends the Raven King to retrieve the sword, and Nariko passes on, saying that, "the pact is at the end." As she lies dead on the ground, a white light imbues the ground beneath her body, and the camera pans out to the sky above, where she continues to narrate. Nariko's spirit is transported to an otherworldly realm, which is later revealed to be the Heavenly Sword's version of Purgatory; it is also the game's main menu. The following cutscenes featured in this realm are flashbacks of the events that transpired over the course of just five days, relayed in Chapters.
Chapter One - Five Days Ago
After a heated monologue with the Sword, players begin the game in earnest Five Days Ago, in the scene The Art of Battle. The beginning cut scene features Nariko describing King Bohan and his war against her clan in her opinion. Bohan seeks the Heavenly Sword, and with it, his control over her people. Nariko and clansmen have fled his might for months, but she explains that they "cannot run forever." Kai, Shen and Nariko, along with the rest of the clan, barricade themselves within a fortress, in the hopes that they will be able to hold out against Bohan's rapidly advancing army. Nariko feels that the fort is a trap, while Shen, the clan leader and Nariko's father, disagrees, leading to a brief but definitive argument; this quarrel is one of several times the characters will come into conflict. The clansmen proceed to bar the doors, to no avail; the enemy soldiers begin scaling the walls, and Nariko must hurry to help her kinsmen. It is at this point that players assume control over Nariko in a level for the first time. Players are introduced to interacting with the environment (X button), combos, the Glyph Meter, Blocking (automatic against Speed Attacks), Counters, Heavenly Pots (which restore Health as well as adding to Glyph Meter), and much more. Players also receive much more insight about her life from Nariko through her narration, as she reveals that she fears that her father holds her to blame for the clan's curse and the death of her mother. After the defeat of Bohan's soldiers that day, Shen tasks Kai, the clan's best archer, to keep watch for the night, with her responding excitedly, calling it, "Twing-Twang". That evening, Bohan's soldiers attempt to sneak into the fortress, in an effort to slaughter the clan as they slumber. Players control Kai and are introduced to "Aftertouch", the ability to guide arrows and other projectiles to a target in Heavenly Sword. If the players just so happen to miss a target or two during this level, Night Attack, players will assume control of Nariko, who will proceed to clear out the stragglers with her Longsword. She then says (presumably to Bohan) to give the slain soldiers a dignified burial, and the game goes to cutscene. Nariko gives the player more info on her life, this time explaining that she must now protect the Heavenly Sword, and that her life will change forever.
Chapter One - Four Days Ago
Nariko is featured the following morning being called to arms by her father. After climbing the ladders and heading up to the balcony, Shen explains that the clan is escaping, and that it is Nariko's task to cover them as they go. This initiates the scene Dawn Siege. Bohan has reinforced his troops with catapults, and Nariko must use the fort's cannon to destroy them. There are three total, which you must eliminate before completing the second half of this stage. The contraptions are relatively easy to hit; weak points on the catapults are marked with orange shields. Players can use the Aftertouch ability to guide cannonballs to their desired destination. Once the three main shields have been dealt with accordingly, a fourth shield will appear in the middle of the catapult. Hitting this will cause the catapult to collapse. A timer will appear, which displays how long it is before Bohan's forces overrun the fortress. After the catapults have been destroyed, Shen will explain to Nariko that she will need to cover their backs with cannon fire, but to also remember to head east with the Sword if she sees catapults. Now not only is there a timer, but also a kill count, depicting how many of Bohan's soldiers need to be slain before continuing the level. The counter is also quite easy to fill; a large contingent of Bohan's men will start heading west and cross right in front of the fort, meaning the player can easily rack up the necessary body count to proceed. Once players complete this stage of the scene, Nariko will spot a catapult in the distance, and, heeding Shen's words, makes haste to escape. She manages to desert the fort just seconds before it is set ablaze by the war machines, and begins heading towards the eastern cliffs. Nariko continues through the forest, dispersing of any of Bohan's soldiers that may stand to get in her way. Along the way, she will spot a raven roosting on the top of a gate as she makes her way through, which plays into the storyline later in the game. Finally, she reaches a clearing, where she discovers that her father has been captured by Bohan and a nearby bridge has fallen into disrepair, making escape impossible. With little choice as to what she has to do, Nariko, despite the warnings of her father, unsheathes the Heavenly Sword and wields it against Bohan's army. Nariko is able to use the Sword in one of three modes: Speed Stance, Power Stance, and Range Stance, whose attacks are indicated with different colors (blue for Speed, orange for Power, etc.). Nariko hacks and slashes her way through three waves of Bohan's soldiers, much to Bohan's chagrin. However, Nariko soon realizes that she can't defeat the onslaught of Bohan's men, and so in an almost suicidal act of desperation, she sheathes the Sword and hurls herself off the cliff.
Chapter Two - Three Days Ago
Nariko awakes to find Kai caring for her, as her adopted sister had found her while she made her own separate escape. Kai informs Nariko that Bohan has captured Shen and the rest of the clan, and Nariko vows to save her father. Over the next three scenes, Nariko hacks and slashes her through Bohan's men, leaving a trail of bodies in her wake before finally reaching Flying Fox. This is the first of two duels between the characters, with this one not having a clear indication of who is the victor. Flying Fox proclaims that Nariko needs more 'Style' before she goes about battling him again and proceeds to flee the scene of the fight. Nariko continues her trek, fighting her way through more of Bohan's soldiers before arriving at the Prison. Once there, Nariko slays a contingent of guards stationed in the facility and liberates her captured clansmen. They inform her that Shen is not with them at the Prison; rather, Whiptail has taken him captive and is holding him hostage. Despite the warnings of her clansmen, Nariko continues her trek, making her way to Whiptail's lair. This turns out to be an ambush, though in vain as Nariko handles Whiptail's soldiers with relative ease. Nariko then discovers Shen, hanging and near death as the result of torture at the hands of the snake-maiden. After a brief cutscene entailing Shen's contemplation of murdering an infant Nariko, accompanied by Whiptail's taunts, Nariko instructs her father to escape with the clan while she battles Whiptail. The fight is actually broken into two separate sections; one immediately following the cutscene, and one after Shen's Escape, in which Nariko finally defeats Whiptail, though she became incapacitated as the process. At the end of this scene, Whiptail is shown to be dying on the ground next to Nariko, who is slipping in and out of consciousness. Bohan is then depicted kneeling next to Whiptail, soothing her and offering her comfort before violently snapping her neck and retrieving the Sword. Nariko then finally falls unconscious, to the sound of Bohan's laughter.
Chapter Three - Two Days Ago
Nariko was bounded and taken prisoner, and was subject to harassment by Bohan's massive son Roach, who amused himself by tickling her. Bohan then attempted to make risque advances towards Nariko, suggesting that further struggles would be pointless. Nevertheless, Nariko reaffirmed her determination to kill her captors, after which a smug Bohan decided to first lock her in a jail cell before placing her in a gladiatorial pit against her own clansmen. However, Kai managed to discover her cell, and Nariko then implored Kai to retrieve the Sword to facilitate her escape. Once Nariko and the rest of her clan were placed in the pit, Bohan ordered them to combat each other in a free-for-all brawl in which the last person standing would live. In the ensuing chaos, the Nariko can perform stun attacks on her clansmen to incapacitate them without causing harm. Eventually, she became the only one left standing. However, Bohan decided to extend the match by forcing her to combat one of Roach's "pets", an Orangumen. Though she killed the first one, five more were then simultaneously unleashed to overwhelm her, forcing her to go on the defensive. However, Kai was then able to retrieve the Sword and deliver it to Nariko, who then used the weapon to slay all of the pets. Frustrated by her victory and the Sword's theft, Bohan then order his son Roach to kill her. In the ensuing battle, Nariko sharply mocked Roach's lack of wit, much to Bohan's annoyance. Despite Roach's massive bulk and brute force, Nariko outfought and defeated him, and infuriated Bohan, who declared his son an "utter failure". The sharp words drove Roach into sobbing and in an act of Pity, Nariko turned and left without delivering the killing blow.
As she began making her way out of the Pit, she encountered a panicking Kai, who was being tormented by the Flying Fox. Under orders from Bohan, the Flying Fox pursued Kai, mentally torturing her while taunting Nariko for her inability to save her. Nariko then fought her way out of Bohan's stronghold, combating hordes of infantry, heavy weapons, and Roach's pets on her way. Despite her furious efforts to reach Kai, slaughtering countless enemies on her path, she watched in horror as the Flying Fox fitted a noose around Kai's neck and violently drop-hanged her to her apparent death. Consumed by loss and rage, Nariko violently battled the Flying Fox, cutting down the numerous doppelgangers unleashed by him. Remarkably, Kai managed to barely survive her drop hanging, and fired a crossbow bolt into the unsuspecting Flying Fox's head, delivering the killing blow. Shocked that Kai managed to survive, Nariko quickly retrieved the heavily wounded Kai before making her way back to home.
Chapter Four - One Day Ago
Nariko spent much of the following day carrying Kai back to her fortified home, where she was greeted by a surprised Shen. Despite Kai's severe injuries, Shen determined that she would survive, though the entire clan was at risk of utter defeat and slaughter in the face of Bohan's impending assault. Nariko then swore to continue her fight for Kai's sake. Afterwards, she noticed a raven that she recognized to have been tailing her on her journey. Determining that the Raven belonged to Bohan, she and her father decided to finally stop fleeing and stand their ground against the coming invasion. Nariko then yelled at the Raven, stating that she and her clan were reading for Bohan's forces.
Chapter Five - The Final Battle
Because her birth defied the prophesy revolving around the Heavenly Sword, Nariko was continually heaped with scorn and derision from the rest of her clan. The negative attitudes towards her remained even after she had matured to a beautiful and intelligent warrior. Even her father displayed little affection towards her, instead trying making their relationship strictly professional. Despite this, Nariko remained fiercely loyal and protective of her clan and family, and as shown in Chapter Two, she placed herself in considerable personal danger to rescue her clan members. Her cunning and combat prowess would eventually lead to her father trusting her with protecting the Sword. Her fierce determination was so great that by cleverly appealing to the Sword's own ego, she was able to manipulate and convince the Sword to delay her death enough so that she could defeat King Bohan and the Raven King; she controlled the relationship, not the sword.
Nariko's closest companion was Kai, a young girl she rescued after Bohan's forces annhilated her people. The two developed a very close relationship, with Kai becoming Nariko's surrogate sister. Their bond is so close that Nariko was willing to risk her life to save Kai's.
Nariko was highly trained in combat, and was among the most capable fighter in her clan. A quick and cunning tactician, she was highly agile, and her lithe figure belies her immense physical strength and remarkable resilience; she was capable of defending herself against multiple assailants and even massively deformed Orangumen. Throughout the game, she demonstrated her proficiency in sword fighting, hand-to-hand combat, rocket attacks, and artillery strikes. When armed with the Heavenly Sword, her combat capabilities were magnified to the point that no single combatant was able to stop her.