It’s tempting to dismiss Halo 4 as purely a workout for the adrenal glands, but it has a softer side hidden beneath the battle rifles and pulse grenades. Its characters were not just iterations of Hollywood’s collection of Johns (Rambo, MccLane, Connor), but were influenced particularly by a progeny of Japan Studio: a little boy with horns on his head.
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I think there’s a lot of similarity in just the core relationship between the boy in Ico and Princess Yorda, and Chief and Cortana, that bond they have, that need to be there for one another. I’ll always be influenced by that game, probably in ways that I don’t even understand, because it’s definitely one of the pinnacle moments in my gaming career. But beyond that core bond, they’re very different, obviously, in terms of experiences and the way that they express one another, and so I don’t see a lot of mechanical similarities, but definitely on a story level, the interdependence is similar.
I think what’s interesting about Ico, is that it’s a game that has no spoken dialogue, and yet there’s more meaning and depth to the storytelling in that game than 90% of the other games that I’ve played. I think that tells you how you can draw on core human emotions and relationships that we can all relate to, and how that can be iconic and moving rather than just using words.
In approaching the storytelling for Halo 4, there’s definitely a desire on our part to look at what those core emotions are between two friends. Cortana and Chief have all these different shades to the relationship, which makes it really interesting and fun to explore. In some ways they’re friends, in some ways she’s almost like a mother, in others they’re skirting that line of lovers, and so all these different elements come into the relationship, making it complex and interesting to explore.
Big Boss and The Boss have this dynamic in Metal Gear Solid 3. Bob Harris and Charlotte have it in Lost In Translation. These are all convoluted relationships, but this is what makes them so rewarding to witness. Evidently, Ico can help inform a way for this dynamic to play out.