For long-time viewers of this blog, you will know that I hold the story of Halo 4 in EXTREMELY high regard. I think that 343 Industries’ first entry into the series is absolutely fantastic with a well written, emotional narrative and superb characterisation – my full thoughts on which can be read here.
So my favourite moment of Halo 4 was both easy and difficult to choose. I’ve spoken at length about the death of Cortana and the composition of Ivanoff Station which focus on the emotion of the narrative, but there’s one definitive scene which you spend 3 whole missions building up to which was pulled off perfectly.
The awakening of the Ur-Didact.
The final section of the level Forerunner has you teleported to Requiem’s core where you’re greeted with the sight of the Didact’s Cryptum. For those who don’t know, a Cryptum is a device that is used by the Warrior-Servant caste of Forerunner society as a stasis chamber which connects them to the Domain and allows them to meditate, it is what exiled Warrior-Servants choose to do by entering a state of ‘timeless xankara’.
“Chief… Chief, let go of the contacts!”
The Master Chief and Cortana do not know this, however, as they believe that the Cryptum is a satellite that will allow them to communicate with the UNSC Infinity as it’s being dragged into Requiem by the gravity well. By the time they realise, it’s already too late – John has begun the revival process.
Everything is suddenly knocked backwards, the Master Chief forced to take cover, as the Millennial Seal is broken. In the novel Halo: Cryptum, when Bornstellar awakens the Didact for the first time he states that when the Millennial Seal is broken, time feels as if it’s still – and this is exactly how it feels in the game as well. Not only that, but Chakas and Riser also open the Cryptum by singing a strange song that the Librarian had imprinted into their brains, it feels like no coincidence that the music at this point takes on the form of a sinister sounding choir to accompany the moment of awakening.
John and Cortana watch from a distance as what looks like a closed, metallic flower is lowered from the bottom of the Cryptum – a strange figure encased within it. The descent stops and the flower’s petals open, revealing a hideously mutilated Ur-Didact who has been locked away for 100,000 years with no access to the Domain and the influence of the Gravemind’s torture still in his mind.
“So fades the great harvest of my betrayal… Even these beasts recognised what you were oblivious to, human. Your nobility has blinded you, as ever.”
John moves to aim his assault rifle at the Didact, but is grabbed by the Didact’s wrist-mounted containment field and rendered absolutely powerless.
“The Librarian left little to chance, didn’t she? Turning my own guardians, my own world, against me. But what hubris to believe that she could protect her pets from me forever. If you haven’t mastered even these primitives, then man has not attained the Mantle… your ascendence may yet be prevented.
Time was your ally, human, but now it has abandoned you.
The Forerunners have returned.
This tomb is now yours…”
With the last part of his speech, the last of his armour (his helmet) assembles around him and he throws John across the chamber like a ragdoll before opening up slipspace and causing the planet’s core to destabilise.
It’s a truly brilliant scene and a memorable introduction to the first Forerunner we see without armour covering their appearance. I can’t wait to see what 343 does with his character in future Halo media, as it’s all-but confirmed that we’ll see him again.