It would not be Valve if there wasn’t some kind of catch, although. As many predicted, Alyx would not decide up the place Episode Two left off. As an alternative, it is a Half-Life 2 prequel, which suggests there’s nonetheless no finish in sight to the story that Valve was telling between 2004 and 2007.
Like anybody who’s been following this franchise for the higher a part of 20 years now, I’ve gone by way of all types of emotional highs and lows in the previous couple of days. It began with Tuesday’s announcement, which despatched me into stupefied pleasure on the concept of Valve lastly returning to the collection. The title, which refers to silent protagonist Gordon Freeman’s sidekick Alyx Vance, indicated this new sport would have a unique focus — one thing that’s most likely warranted after 12 years. After all, that gave me the sinking feeling that we weren’t going to get the following chapter within the story we have been ready on for thus lengthy.
Thursday’s information drop confirmed it and upset me on a number of ranges. Apart from there being no hints of decision to the collection, prequels typically undergo from an absence of stakes — we typically know that, on the finish of Alyx Vance’s flip as the primary protagonist, she’ll have linked with the newly-reawakened Freeman to assist tackle the invading Mix alien forces.
However watching that trailer just about blew away my lingering doubts. The world appears acquainted, however extra intricately detailed and terrifying than ever. I had forgotten in regards to the sport’s signature headcrab enemies, and the concept of them hurtling in direction of me in digital actuality is, frankly, fairly disconcerting — Half-Life can get fairly freaky even with out the immersiveness of VR.
And whereas the trailer unsurprisingly would not give a lot away by way of story, the primary feedback coming from Valve’s workforce in regards to the sport make me suppose we’re in for greater than only a linear prequel storyline that wraps up simply earlier than Half-Life 2 begins. Talking to The Verge, Valve’s David Speyrer dropped this intriguing tease: “Whereas it does happen earlier than the occasions of Half-Life 2, we really suggest that you simply play by way of Half-Life 2: Episode 2 earlier than you play Half-Life: Alyx, for causes that can grow to be clear as you progress.”
Pair that assertion with a key line of dialog from the trailer: “Shut your eyes, honey!” It is spoken by Alyx’s father Eli as a headcrab comes flying in direction of the digicam and the shot cuts to black. It really works as a dramatic stinger on the climax of the trailer, however there’s extra to dissect right here. That is the very last thing Eli says earlier than (spoiler alert) being killed by a horrific Mix Advisor on the finish of Episode Two, the cliffhanger we have all been ready to maneuver on from. Certain, Valve may simply be screwing with obsessive followers like me with this callback — however possibly there’s extra. In a sport universe with dimensional tears, heroes put into stasis to be woke up years later, and time-bending Vortigaunt aliens, it is not exhausting to think about Valve has much more in retailer for us than a easy, linear prequel. Certain, the corporate hasn’t had an in-depth, single-player marketing campaign for a very long time, however its observe report when it does select to take action is fairly glorious.