For other uses, see Nihilanth (disambiguation)
The Nihilanth is considered the leader of the Vortigaunts and is responsible for the invading alien forces in the original Half-Life story. The alien despot is also responsible for keeping the link between Xen and Earth open even after the attempts to close it by Black Mesa's top scientists. Despite being the main enemy Nihilanth only appears in the final chapter of Black Mesa, and although he is very powerful, his physical form appears to be extremely odd. His head is massively over proportioned compared to his body, the massive size appears unnecessary when compared to the size of the brain within the cavity.
Gordon Freeman is tasked with destroying the Nihilanth in the final chapter of the game, in order to close the rift between the two worlds. As always Gordon takes on this challenge with ease and, once destroyed, the rift between the two worlds closes.
The Nihilanth is housed deep within caves on the borderworld of Xen. Remains of science teams from Black Mesa show that previous attempts to end the alien’s reign of power have failed.
Edit (If someone can mix this up and correct grammar it would be good): It should be noted that the Nihilianth is not the real "leader" of the Vortigaunts. The metal bands seen around their necks in Half-Life 1 were used to restrain and control the power of each individual Vortigaunt so that they could be used as slaves by the Xenians and the Nihilianth. The electrical jolt caused by a Vortigaunt without this is much more powerful, as has been seen in the events of Half-Life 2, and is able to utilize super natural powers. Not much is known about the power of the Vortigaunts themselves. Their name for the life-binding force which allows them to interact with the G-Man and even to bring Alyx back to life is known as the Vortessence. The real "Xenians" are creatures which are not really found in Half-Life 2 and beyond, because after the Nihilinath's death, his realm was likely invaded and colonized by Combine forces. These creatures include Alien Grunts, Alien Controllers, (both have strange appendages on their abdomen similar to the Nihiliath, and thus are likely decendents) Bullsquid, Houndeye, and Xenian plant-life. Headcrabs cannot be considered native to Xen; even though head crabs were in Xen, they are so adaptable that they are likely to be in every world which has ever been involved in the Combine, Human and Xen stuggle. It is also unknown if the Gonarch (Big Momma) killed by Freeman in Xen is the only one, even though it is clearly a large 'alien-like queen' which breeds head crabs endlessly from its large sack. Due to the scale that headcrabs are seen, it is unlikely that the single Gonarch killed by Gordon is the only one, although it could be possible.
Nihilanth launches large swarms of purple, slow moving, powerful energy balls. Nihilanth also has the ability to fire large green orbs which, in effect, teleports the player into another chamber of the cave containing more aliens which in turn defend Nihilanth by attacking Freeman. Gordon must battle his way out of these chambers and reach a teleport in order to return to the main chamber with the Nihilanth and continue the battle. Nihilanth can also use the green portals to spawn aliens to defend against attacks from inside his cave.
Nihilanth also has very strong defensive shield which can only be rendered useless once it has taken a set amount of damage from Freeman. This is shown as a set of golden spheres, which by no coincidence; appear to be replaced by crystals similar to the one from the test chamber in the chapter Anomalous Materials.
- "The truth...you can never know...the truth..."
Nihilanth is known for many cryptic quotes that are heard throughout the ending chapters of the game:
- "Comes... another..." - Spoken when Gordon first enters Xen. This is a reference to the corpses that can be found around Xen, apparently of those who tried to stop Nihilanth before Gordon arrived.
- "You are man... he is not man... for you he waits... for you..." - Spoken when the player enters the second part of the chapter Interloper. Believed to be a reference to G-man and his apparent inhuman abilities.
- "The last...I am the last..." - Spoken when the player reaches the final part of Interloper. Possible meanings include Nihilanth referencing that he is the last of his kind, or that he is the last obstacle in the path of Gordon.
- "Win... you cannot win..." - Spoken when the player reaches Gonarch's Lair. A taunt toward Gordon.
- "Done...what have you done..." - Spoken when the player defeats the Gonarch and enters the chapter Interloper.
- "Die...you all die...you all die..."
- "Die now...you die now...die now..." - Spoken during the battle with Nihilanth.
- "Their slaves...we are their slaves...we are..." The meaning to this remains unknown. Some believe it to be a reference to the Combine, who are not seen until Half-Life 2. Another theory is that the vortigauns themselves are enslaved by another, alien race. One can see the original model wearing what could appear to be bracelets of some sort, indicating that perhaps indeed the vortigaun do not act on own volition. Further more the first appearances of the vortigauns inside the realm of Xen show them doing manual labour, overseen by the flying monsters. It is not unlikely that the voice speaking of being "their slaves" perhaps indeed come not from Nihilanth, but from another conscience fighting to be heard. One must also bear in mind that the combine were most likely not even thought of by Valve at the time of this game's release in 1998, and as such the conclusion that the Nihilanth speaks of those is not as plausible as other explanations.
- "The truth...you can never know...the truth..." In case of the vortigauns being enslaved themselves this could be the truth of what G-man truly is and exactly how deep the cooperation between humans, or whatever G-man may be, and the Xen races dig. Nihilanth may well be very keen on keeping Freeman and mankind from realising the truth behind the Xen invasion.
- "Thieves...you all are thieves...you all are..." Believed to be a reference to the crystals and specimens taken from the borderworld prior to the resonance cascade. As well as the humans' ability to create portals between worlds - not entirely unlikely a technology stolen from those creatures coming off of Xen - and once more would be indicators that the so-called invasion may not be fabricated by the Xenians alone - entirely at least.
- "Deceive you... will deceive you..." This can barely be anything but a reference to G-man and the entire conspiracy revolving Lambda test labs and Black Mesa as a whole.
- "Alone... aren't you alone... aren't you alone..." This implies us that Gordon is not alone, but followed by G-Man, as well as multiple scientists who brought an arsenal big enough to supply a small army. Perhaps not intended for Freeman alone to use, but definitely helping him, although indirectly, along the way to defeating the obstacles ahead once inside Xen.
- "FREEEEEMAAAAAANNN!" - Spoken at the beginning of the final battle.