Half-life is a well-known video game series and a formative part of video game culture. Anyone who has never heard the name knows at least the most famous Mod Counter-Strike, which was developed by fans based on the first part. Now, you have the final chapter, Half-Life: Alyx, to experience an exciting, creepy, and mysterious adventure. Let’s find more about Half-Life: Alyx.

Half Life Alyx in-game still | Review of Half Life Alyx
©Half-Life

Thirteen years have passed since, but most of us will never forget Half-Life 2. As everyone now knows, the title has left the unfinished adventures Alyx Vance and his struggle against alien domination. Valve has remained silent for many years without ever telling anything about a possible new chapter, and the dreams of all fans went up in smoke some time ago when the script for a possible third title in the series was released online. It made Valve wake the giant owner of Steam technology which was a clear and decisive step forward and maybe was exactly the goal of Valve. 

Half-Life: Alyx is the skillful combination of various elements that breathes life into a real triple-A game in virtual reality, the first of its kind and a pronounced formula win. So far the world of Oculus, Vive, Windows mixed reality has lived on experiences and tech demos of similar projects. Short games, castrated in certain aspects, limited, purely visual, that is what the virtual reality market is composed of at the moment. But the Half-Life: Alyx being the best VR game, appreciates virtual reality much more and understands it much better. Let’s see what Half-Life: Alyx has to offer.

Setting – Half-life: Alyx

City 17 is a post-apocalyptic place of action. The backgrounds do not appear to be pure shooting scenes. Alyx climbs over the roofs and through subway shafts, explores a hotel and the local vodka distillery. Everything is authentically designed and gives a feeling as if life suddenly stopped due to the Combine’s invasion. There are objects, letters, and all sorts of stuff from a civilization everywhere. But now there are creepy characters like the spider-like crabs. 

The setting is in part a symbol of the corona crisis. Mankind is not currently threatened by an extraterrestrial power but because of a threat, people are encouraged to avoid contact and stay at home. To put on VR glasses in this isolation and saying goodbye to the real world is an immersive experience.

Immersion

Immersion is the effect with which the virtual environment is perceived as real. No wonder, after all, the screens with 3D effect, particularly large field of view and motion sensors create a new dimension of immersion. The whole area invites you to try it out. Bottles or toilet paper rolls can be grabbed and flung against the wall, the radio transmitter can be adjusted and the door handle can be pressed. Musicians can even play a little song on the piano in the corner.

These immersive techniques also apply to weapons. The pistol and shotgun are loaded with hand movements and the aiming is done just like in real life. The gravitational glove makes it possible to aim at distant objects, pull them towards you, and catch them. These interactive elements are mixed with all sorts of augmented reality puzzles. Power lines have to be tracked and repaired inside walls with a scanner.

Half-life: Alyx Gameplay

During the adventure, entertaining puzzles with creepy exploration passages appear in a motivating way. The opponents demand constant rethinking and in the course of the action, Alyx gets new opportunities to fight back. These range from a simple pistol to a shotgun to a machine gun. These weapons can also be upgraded in the course of the adventure.

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Scary

The adventure in City 17 is arguably one of the scariest places in video game history, even though it does without the overly explicit depiction of violence and extreme splatter effects. This is ensured by the dramatic composition, the atmospheric lighting, and threatening sounds. When the light turns off at the most exciting moment, you have to orientate yourself in the flashlight and suddenly the creepy creature comes closer and your pulse goes up.

Review of Half Life Alyx
©Half-Life

There are also jump scares in the VR environment like a head crab suddenly flies towards the face or a door opens. Also intense and scary is a section where Alyx encounters the disfigured creature Jeff. Caught in a vodka distillery between countless bottles, it is not so easy to remain silent. And with toxic vapors, you have to keep your mouth shut to avoid coughing.

These movements are tracked and transferred to the character. There can be intense situations that you want to start running or fight in the heat of the moment and then catch parts of the furniture or dishes on the desk. These movements are tracked and transferred to the character. 

Protection of minors

The feeling of being in the middle also changes the effect of the virtual worlds and this can lead to overexcitement or fear. Since it is a purely online distribution, there is no statutory age indicator. Sensitive people, especially children or adolescents, could be terrified by the horror scenes.

The fact that the situation cannot be avoided simply by turning away from the screen makes it difficult for players to distance themselves from the action and increases the intensity of the moments of shock. However, there is no raw use of violence.

Conclusion:

Half-Life: Alyx takes virtual reality to a new level. It does not fundamentally reinvent game mechanisms but perfects them into an impressively creepy and atmospheric overall composition. The scenarios of the fictional City 17 seem authentic, the motivation of the female protagonist believable, the enemies threatening and the battles on a higher level of difficulty tactically demanding.

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Children and adolescents could be scared in the long term by the fight-oriented and creepy action. Older sensitive minds who overwhelm horror scenes and who have problems with jump scares should also skip this VR experience.

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