Half-Life’s history is filled with canceled projects that will never see the light of day, but thanks to Noclip, fans can now see almost a full hour of gameplay for Arkane’s canceled Half-Life 2 spin-off. Studio, Ravenholm.
It’s a fascinating look at a project that seemed fairly close to completion, but for some reason Valve ultimately pulled the plug. In the video, Noclip’s Danny O’Dwyer periodically pops up to provide context to the gameplay viewers are seeing. Footage of the canceled game was obtained as part of Noclip’s 2020 documentary on Arkane’s story, and which O’Dwyer says is now released in full “as part of Noclip’s mission to document and to preserve the history of video games”.
What the footage reveals looks promising, with an in-depth electrical system that players could use to both defeat enemies and solve puzzles. Players would eventually acquire a nail gun which could be used to fire bolts into the environment and create electrical currents to open doors and craft traps. O’Dwyer remarks that an entirely new score has been composed for the game, some of which is featured in the new gameplay footage and is likely heard by audiences outside of Arkane and Valve for the first time. There are also new enemy types, like venom-spitting zombies and super-smart mutated monkeys that could crawl through air ducts.
In Ravenholm, players would have taken on the role of Adrian Shepard from Half-Life: Opposing Force and teamed up with Father Grigori from Half-Life 2, as they battle through an abandoned mental hospital filled with zombies and the various Grigori’s hostile scientific experiments. The project was originally underway 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. This first prototype would eventually land in Arkane’s hands and become the project the team called Ravenholm.
As to why the project was never officially released, Valve didn’t give an official reason, but in Noclip’s 2020 documentary, Arkane staff simply speculated it was business. According to Arkane, the game likely would have taken at least another full year of development and the associated costs, which may have caused Valve to ultimately decide the project wasn’t worth finishing.
The most recent Half-Life game, Half-Life: Alyx in VR only, was released in 2020, before which there hadn’t been a new game in the series since Half-Life 2: Episode 2 in 2007.
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