Years after half-life fans have been yearning for a sequel to the series. They made memes, they made conspiracy theories, yet nobody expected this VR surprise that valve hit us with.
The first part of this review will be spoiler-free to keep your experience as fresh as can be. However, there will be a spoiler warning after this part. Under the warning, there will be spoilers.
Now, let’s start off with the first impressions. The game drops you in the dystopian Eastern European metropolis called “City 17”. We start off on the balcony with a great view of how the combine have affected the city and how their behemoth robotics roam the skyline unhindered. Around us, however, are plenty of props just inviting us to play with them. The game wants to show off the liquid physics within the beer bottles, the accurate splash and break when they are thrown, the way alluminum cans will crush if you squeeze your Valve-Index pressure sensitive controllers too hard.. The whole shabang.
The first couple of minutes lets you get to know the game a bit and showcases what it can offer. The environment is highly interactive as you can pretty much interact with everything. The iconic example of this is the ability to write on windows that’s included in pretty much every video made of this game. I tried my hand at it myself!
The ambient sounds, the breathtaking views.. after you’re done taking it all in, you’ll soon come to realize that this game isn’t about you strolling through the city for pleasure. You’ll be playing as Alyx Vance, an adventurous young girl in a quest to get the combine out of earth. There’ll be combat , puzzles and witty dialogue galore! Hidden items, weapon upgrades and easter eggs as well. This game has really defined the genre and proven that VR is not a dead genre. As this is AAA material right here. Definitely worth the buy if your PC can handle it and you can get the game for free when ordering a Valve Index from steam! The rest of the article will be more detailed and include spoilers.
SPOILERS BEYOND THIS LINE ———————————————————————————————————————————-
Now we can get deeper into the story. It’s a well written story about how Alyx and her father are captured by the combine. Your friend Russel succeeds in attacking your transport and freeing you, after which you are informed that the father was not as lucky as Alyx. Alyx gets a game plan from Russel and telekinetic glove augments called.. “Russels”. Our friend justifies this name as an acronym for “Really Useful Something Something Electronic Lightweight Levitating S.” Classic Russel!
You also receive your first weapon and are now ready to take on the world. The gloves can be used for mere convenience (flinging ammo to yourself to pick it up) or also in a tactical manner, (pull an explosive barrel towards you while there is an enemy in the way). It’s really up to you!
As most monsters are basic and able to be killed with basic firepower or slight mechanics, there is one exception to this rule. Along the way you’ll run in to the unpleasant roommate referred to as “Jeff”
Jeff, as seen above. Is an exceptionally resilient foe , designed not to be fought in a traditional manner. You will have to navigate the area while avoiding Jeff entirely. Otherwise, he will violently end the players life. But you’re in luck! Jeff is 100% blind! For he has no eyes , like Ace does ;). He responds to sounds. You can draw him away by throwing countless vodka bottles to where you want him to go , as you’re in a distillery. Yet you have to be careful, for you navigating, pressing buttons, turning valves and knocking over bottles makes a lot of noise to attract our dearest friend. It was a memorable experience to be locked up in the dark with Jeff. One that I will not be forgetting any time soon.
Now we’ll speak about the ending. In the end, after freeing your father , you’re sent to free an old friend we know from the Half-Life series. Gordon Freeman! Yeah, that’s right. But he’s in an impenetrable cell complex , after penetrating anyway, we come to find that it was in fact not Mr. Freeman, but the interdimentional bureaucrat by the name of G-man who was locked up in there instead. After freeing him, he gives you a choice to alter the future and save your father from an untimely death. After Alyx agrees, he expresses that he is pleased by the choice you made and recruits you against your will to join him and his employers. After the end-credits you’ll get a cut-scene where Alyx’ father discovers what went down and asks you to join him on a mission to retrieve Alyx. You’re in a new body now, not sure who it is. Yet it all becomes clear after mr Vance hands you the iconic crowbar. This… THIS! No word about half life 3 for YEARS! And how do they decide to announce it? They make an ENTIRE VR GAME to do it! Props to valve for making this gem. It was an absolute pleasure to play this. What did you think about the game? And if you read this article without playing it, would you want to give it a go?
Watch me play this game on stream sometime as well!