Glyphs are a level-rank system featured in Heavenly Sword. There are three glyphs available for each mission, with a total of 129 available in the entire game. Glyph points are awarded for fighting with style.
For Nariko, points are awarded for hitting enemies or countering their attacks, but the point counter resets to zero if Nariko is hit by an enemy, or too much time elapses between hitting enemies, which seems to be about 1.5 to 2 seconds. For missions with archers, Nariko can easily gain three glyphs simply by deflecting their arrows (using the Range Stance) until sufficient points are gained.
For Kai, points are awarded for hitting enemies with her arrows. Additional points are awarded for head-shots. The counter resets if she misses, or is hit. Aftertouch is very helpful for Kai's missions.
Both characters also gain glyph points for destroying Glyph Pots, which also restore their health.
Depending on the player's ability and playing style, differing missions might be easier or harder. However these seem to be the missions that give the most trouble when trying to obtain three glyphs. Getting two is relatively straightforward for a practised gamer, but three seems to be very hard:
- Night Attack: Nariko can probably only gain half a glyph point at the most. Kai can get two points by getting 17 or so enemies, while missing a few shots. So the only way seems to be for Kai not to miss, even if she lets some enemies past.
- The Heavenly Sword: Nariko needs to fight with extreme style (i.e. countering) and not get hit. There are simply not enough enemies available to fight in a (normal?) careless manner and gain three glyphs.
- Beware the Fox: The same comments as above apply here.
- Riding High: Similar to Night Attack, the only way to get three glyphs is to not miss. This can be made slightly easier by trying to dispatch the first three waves of enemies very quickly, as they emerge from their starting positions. If you're quick enough, you can target them as they are all bunched up, or even lined up.
- Beasts of the Land: Because so many enemies crowd around Nariko, it is very difficult to avoid being hit.