Half-Life history is littered with canceled projects that would never see the light of day, but thanks to Noclip, fans can now watch nearly a full hour of gameplay for Arkane Studio’s canceled Half-Life 2 spin-off, Ravenholm.
It’s a fascinating look at a project that seemed fairly close to completion, but was, for whatever reason, eventually pulled the plug by Valve. In the video, Noclip’s Danny O’Dwyer appears periodically to provide context for the game viewers are watching. Footage from the canceled game was obtained as part of Noclip’s 2020 documentary on the history of Arkane, and O’Dwyer says it is now being released in its entirety “as part of Noclip’s mission to document and preserve the history of video games.” “.
What the footage reveals looks promising, with an in-depth electricity system that players could use to both defeat enemies and solve puzzles. Players would eventually acquire a nail gun that could be used to fire bolts into the environment and generate electrical currents to open doors and set traps. O’Dwyer comments that an entirely new score was composed for the game, some of which appears in the new gameplay footage and is likely to be heard for the first time by audiences outside of Arkane and Valve. There are also new types of enemies, such as poison-spewing zombies and super-intelligent mutant monkeys that could crawl through air ducts.
In Ravenholm, players would have assumed the role of Half-Life: Opposing Force’s Adrian Shepard and teamed up with Half-Life 2’s Father Grigori, as they battled through an abandoned mental hospital filled with zombies and the various hostile scientific experiments of Grigori. The project was originally in the works at Junction Point Studios under Warren Spector and featured a magnet gun that could be used to magnetize surfaces for combat and puzzle-solving purposes. That first prototype would eventually land in Arkane’s hands and become the project the team referred to as Ravenholm.
As for why the project was never officially released, Valve didn’t give an official reason, but in Noclip’s 2020 documentary, the Arkane staff simply speculates that it was business. According to Arkane, the game would have likely needed at least another full year of development and the costs associated with it, which could have caused Valve to ultimately decide that it was not worth finishing the project financially.
The most recent Half-Life game, VR-only Half-Life: Alyx, released in 2020, prior to which there hadn’t been a new game in the series since 2007’s Half-Life 2: Episode 2.
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