Despite all its flaws, 2020 has at least one thing: We’ve seen more of Valve’s Half-Life franchise in the past two months than in the previous 13 years combined…
It started in late March when the studio released Half-Life: Alyx, the series’ first new entry since 2007, and continues this month with a behind-the-scenes look at Ravenholm. Half-Life fans will meet Ravenholm as the unheard-of Half-Life spin-off developer Arkane Studios was working on before launching Dishonored. Thanks to a new Noclip documentary detailing the history of the studio, we can finally see the game in action. We learn that the Ravenholm story began with System Shock and Thief: The Dark Project designer Warren Spector.
Halfway through, Spector’s Junction Point studio, which went on to work on Epic Mickey, was working on a prototype for a new Half-Life 2 episode. Notably, the prototype included a weapon called a “magnetic pistol,” which Spector He said it allowed “really free” play. At some point, Valve handed over the reins of the project to Arkane. It is there that the game began to take shape.
Ravenholm would have featured the return of Half-Life: Opposing Force protagonist Adrian Shephard and Half-Life 2 father Gregory. Arkane planned to give players several cool tools, including a leaf blower that would have allowed your character to jump twice. . The game would also have expanded players’ view of the headcrab-infested city in Half-Life 2 with new locations like a children’s hospital. Arkane co-founder Raphaël Colantonio said he believes Valve canceled the game because it would have taken the studio another year or so to complete the project.
The only way you can play Ravenholm is if you get a job at Arkane. The company maintains an alpha version of the game on one of its internal computers, which new employees can play as a kind of right-of-way. While it’s a shame Half-Life fans have never had a chance to play Ravenholm, many of the ideas that would define Arkane’s later games can be seen on display in the alpha images. And if you haven’t played Dishonored or Prey, it’s worth your time.