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Clifford "Cliff" Higgins is the hidden true main antagonist of Ninja Gaiden 3. He is introduced as a special scientist working for the Japanese Self Defense Forces. However, at about halfway through the game, it is revealed that he is actually one of the game's antagonists who secretly works for the Lords of Alchemy.
In his human form, Cliff is a young man with blonde hair. He wears a hat on his head with large, ovular, dark red glasses on his eyes. He has a stubble moustache growing above his lip. He is a lean man with long legs and a long torso. He wears a lab coat over a sweater vest and dark blue shirt with khaki pants.
In his mutated form, he is a tall grey monster with 4 big claw-like arms.
Cliff had planned on using his sister-in-law Saya and transforming her into the Goddess. But she refused, as she did not want to destroy the world that had a man that she loved dearly. Thus, Cliff's plans went to waste when Saya ran off with Theodore and married him. However, Cliff decided to take advantage of their marriage and use their daughter Canna instead as the Goddess. So he had both Saya and Theodore killed, but he brought his brother back to life and transformed him into the Regent of the Mask.
Cliff is brought on as a scientist to help the JSDF and in turn, Ryu Hayabusa when he is contracted by the government. He provides Ryu with several weapons, such as a bow that locks onto a target. On the Yunagi, Cliff and Canna are introduced to Ryu by Mizuki. He states that he brought Canna with him because she did not want to be alone at home, despite Mizuki's protests. Cliff then tells Ryu and Mizuki that they are fighting the Lords of Alchemy, who are better known as the LOA. He then warns Mizuki about Ishigami, who is doing his own operations without any help from the government. Cliff promises Mizuki that he will take care of Canna as she leaves with Ryu for Abismo Island. He somehow disappears when Mizuki and Canna are captured by the LOA, but he reunites with the group on the USS William Harrison. He tells them that he suspects that something's wrong and the Americans are up to something. Cliff then travels back to Japan with Mizuki and Canna while Ryu returns to his village.
When Ryu gets back on the Yunagi, Cliff reveals that the LOA have their secret headquarters in Antartica. When Mizuki is about to leave, he stops her and insists on letting him go, which she agrees. However, after Ryu defeats the Epigonos, Cliff appears before the Dragon Ninja alongside Ashtear, who is both the Chairman of the LOA and Cliff's grandfather. He reveals to Ryu that he is actually part of the LOA, working alongside Ashtear. After stating that they have plans for Canna, the two of them make their leave while Ryu battles a resurrected Epigonos. The Dragon Ninja catches them leaving on a jet but fails to stop them. Cliff then tells Ryu that they will meet again on the Black Narwhal.
After Ryu kills the Regent of the Mask in the Black Narwhal, it is revealed that he is Cliff's brother, Theodore. After this, Cliff pulls the Dragon Sword from Ryu's body and gives it to Canna, who merges with the Egg of God and transforms into the Goddess. Cliff eventually encounters Ryu and Mizuki in Tokyo and reveals his ultimate goal: to create a new "Eden" with himself as "Adam" and Canna as "Eve". Cliff transforms into a four-armed creature and fights Ryu. During the battle, Ryu shoots an arrow at Cliff, but he vaporizes the bow, asking the ninja "who gave him the bow." Cliff eventually gets the upper hand and tries to kill both Ryu and Mizuki, but they are saved by Theodore, who had somehow survived his battle with Ryu and regained his mind. Theodore mortally stabs Cliff and kills him. With his dying breath, Cliff tells them he did what he did because he wanted to be seen by those he loved, and claims that "all things come to an end" before vanishing, leaving his red glasses behind.
Cliff at first appeared to a mild mannered scientist who supports Ryu Hayabusa of the Hayabusa Clan and JSDF. However, as the game progressed, Cliff showed his more cruel and calculating personality. He manipulated the events that would eventually lead to the creation of the complete Goddess of the new world. Much like his grandfather, Cliff would stop at nothing to accomplish his goal even if he were to harm his own family (killing his own brother for trying to stop him and using his niece as the material needed for the Goddess).