Warning: major Half-Life: Alyx spoilers ahead.
Every so often you come across a game you just can’t help but obsess over. Just 20 minutes into Half-Life: Alyx and I could tell Valve’s ambitious prequel/sequel hybrid is one of these games. Not only does Alyx offer one of the most detailed and visceral immersive experiences I’ve ever had in a VR headset, but it also provides some long-awaited updates to the story of Half-Life.
For those who don’t remember—it’s been 13 years after all—Half-Life 2: Episode 2 ended with Dr. Vance having his brain sucked out by an alien as Alyx and Gordon watch helplessly. Half-Life: Alyx takes place five years before his tragic death. The game revolves around Alyx breaking into a mysterious Combine structure which Dr. Vance and Russel believe may hold a deadly super-weapon. Eventually it is discovered that the floating monolith is actually a prison containing a survivor of the Black Mesa incident. Alyx, Dr. Vance, and Russel believe this person to be Gordon Freeman, though it is eventually revealed to be the mysterious G-Man.
As a thanks for her efforts in freeing him, the G-Man shows Alyx the future death of her father and offers her the chance to save him. She does, unknowingly replacing Gordon as the G-Man’s hire and entering his employment. The game ends here, though if you stick around until after the credits you’ll find one more interactive scene where you actually step into the shoes of THE Gordon Freeman.
Jumping forward in time, players now find themselves in an alternate timeline in which Dr. Vance is still alive. Furious over the loss of his daughter at the hands of the G-Man, Dr. Vance promises to kill the mysterious entity. Then, Dog flies in carrying your signature crowbar; the final touch in an already perfect final sequence.
But what exactly does this ending mean for the future of Half-Life? While Valve has already confirmed Half-Life: Alyx marks the beginning of new Half-Life content, the company has remained tight-lipped in regards to whether or not they’ll continue past the events of Episode 2. The ending of Alyx, however, suggests exactly that. Dr. Vance, back from the dead and extremely pissed off, wants Gordon’s help in taking down the G-Man, which should no doubt lead to a whole mess of inter-dimensional drama.
Perhaps by switching to this alternate timeline, Valve believes it can continue the story of Gordon Freeman without having to meet the wild expectations developed during the franchises thirteen year absence. I mean hey, it worked for Star Trek.
The better question is whether or not the next Half-Life game will also be in VR? While it’s impossible to say for sure, the odds are definitely in our favor. After all, Half-Life: Alyx is only the first of three VR titles in development at Valve. Not only that, but the company has been consistently selling-out of its Valve Index headsets for the past few months, marking a staunch demand for PC VR headsets. After playing Alyx, it’s hard to imagine the series ever returning to the standard 2D format. Once you’ve successfully defended yourself from a head crab using a dirty bucket, there’s just no going back.
For more information about Half-Life: Alyx, check out our hands-on coverage.
Feature Image Credit: Valve Corp.