|“||Something in the armor's ill-omened air told me to keep my distance...||”|
The mysterious Armored Knights (formally known as "Yoroi" from the Japanese subtitles, meaning "armor") are the main enemies that are encountered by the Boy in The Last Guardian. They relentlessly pursue him and Trico to capture the Boy and hand him over to the Master of the Valley. While they pose little threat to the Trico, the Boy must be careful around them, either using tricks or stealth to avoid them. The Boy is not able to directly defeat the knights unless they are knocked over and he can pull off their helmet; instead, he has to rely largely on Trico to subdue them.
The Armored Knights are the first enemy encountered by the Boy and Trico. Shortly after the Boy wakes up from being swallowed, he finds several suits of armor in a hallway. Approaching them, they come alive and come after him, but Trico awakens and easily defeats them; what little damage they do to the beast is easily shrugged off.
As time goes on, the Knights are encountered in larger groups and become smarter and better equipped to take on Trico, although still very weak against it even in large groups.
Although no one knows where the Armored Knights came from or what they really are, they are likely created by the Master of the Valley to serve as light soldiers. They may be ghosts, spirits, invisible men, or even some form of ancient technology.
Armor and physiology
The armor used by the knights is somewhat birdlike and heavily engraved, having beaks, glowing eyes, and feather-like plating. There are two variations but only in color, with most of the knights being teal/green while a few others are stone gray. Despite being almost completely covered in armor, they have no real resistance to Trico's attacks, rarely surviving the first blow. Regardless, they fearlessly attack Trico and the Boy on sight, no matter how outmatched they are.
Within the armor, there is no flesh, blood, or bone. When destroyed, the knights disintegrate into blue smoke and the armor shatters into pieces. They do have a human shape, showing that the armor was made to fit humans.
When the Master is killed, it is unknown what happened to the rest of the Knights in the Nest. It is possible that, after having defeated the army guarding the citadel and all the Knights already encountered, all the existing Knights had been destroyed.
The Armored Knights carry a variety of weapons for use against Trico and enemies of the Master.
- Swords: Most Knights carry a broad-bladed sword. This weapon has no effect on Trico, and mostly they are just swung in midair.
- Spears: Others carry throwing spears or will pick up spears that are lying around. However, these spears appear to do little damage as Trico will continue fighting with no apparent handicap. Embedded spears, however, can hamper Trico's movements, forcing the Boy to remove them after a battle so they can progress.
- Talisman shields: A few Knights carry talisman shields that deter Trico, paralyzing it in fear unless they drop their shields or the shields are broken. These are the most effective against Trico, but they carry no other weapon, so they can be headbutted and knocked over by the Boy, causing them to drop the shield and allowing Trico to wipe them out.
- Spells: Some Knights are able to cast glowing, homing magical spells that slow down and paralyze the Boy. These are used if the Boy is out of reach, like up a ladder, across a chasm, etc. However, these spells appear to not be used on Trico.
The Knights seem to have a strange ability to travel between areas rapidly by use of odd blue doors that are found in nearly every area of the Nest. These doors cannot be opened by the Boy or broken by Trico; only the Knights can access these strange portals.
If a Knight grabs hold of the Boy, they will attempt to carry him to a door. It will open, and some sort of lit void appears beyond the threshold. At this point, the Boy can still break away from the Knight's grasp, but if he is carried through the door, it will close behind them, resulting in a game over.
These portals seem to lead to an unknown location, as the doors are also situated in different areas of the Citadel, the Knights' own headquarters.
The backstory behind the development of the armored knights goes all the way back to Ico. During that game's development, the Queen's castle was inhabited not by shadow creatures, but by imposing knights with horned helmets. These foes would have proved formidable and challenging, since Ico could not hope to directly match the strength of a fully-grown man. He would have to use the castle's own complex architecture to gain an advantage, by attacking them from high or low ground where he could not be reached as easily.
The design was scrapped for several reasons. In order for this system to work, the castle would have had to be designed in such a way that there would always be a place where Ico could go to gain an advantage in attacking a knight more safely and also where a knight could not simply follow him to this place. In addition, the knights did not fit with the castle and its shadowy queen; they were more in line with Ico's captors (and thus the familiar, human world beyond) than anything as mysterious than the Queen. Shadow creatures had none of these problems. They could materialize from any surface into any environment, they were challenging to Ico without being overpowered, and they were entirely believable as minions to the enigmatic Queen.
The Last Guardian, however, sees the return of these knights, who now share aspects of both the conceptual and finalized enemies of Ico. They do not appear to be as strong as Ico's knights, but they feel more authentic in this world. With a few revisions on an old concept, the knights are now just enough of an obstacle to pose a challenge without being overpowered. Though much of the story surrounding these foes remains a mystery, it is at least known how they came to be.