Half-Life: Alyx is Valve’s VR return to the Half-Life series. It’s the story of an impossible fight against a vicious alien race known as the Combine, set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2. Playing as Alyx Vance, you are humanity’s only chance for survival. The Combine’s control of the planet since the Black Mesa incident has only strengthened as they corral the remaining population in cities. Among them are some of Earth’s greatest scientists: you and your father, Dr. Eli Vance. As founders of a fledgling resistance, you’ve continued your clandestine scientific activity performing critical research, and building invaluable tools for the few humans brave enough to defy the Combine. Every day, you learn more about your enemy, and every day you work toward finding a weakness.
ABOUT GAMEPLAY IN VR:
Valve’s return to the Half-Life universe that started it all was built from the ground up for virtual reality. VR was built to enable the gameplay that sits at the heart of Half-Life.
Immerse yourself in deep environmental interactions, puzzle solving, world exploration, and visceral combat.
Lean to aim around a broken wall and under a Barnacle to make an impossible shot. Rummage through shelves to find a healing syringe and some shotgun shells. Manipulate tools to hack alien interfaces. Toss a bottle through a window to distract an enemy. Rip a Headcrab off your face and throw it at a Combine soldier.
You know perfectly well that Valve wasn’t going to make a flagship VR title using its beloved Half-Life franchise and do a half-arsed job. A stunningly rich experience from start to finish, Half-Life: Alyx is one of the best VR titles available, a perfect showcase for what VR gaming is capable of. It doesn’t exactly break new ground, instead providing familiar Half-Life gameplay all wrapped up in a highly polished VR gift bag. Let’s just hope this is the start of things to come and Valve decides to make another Half-Life: Alyx.
A special mention should be made of the game’s dialog, mainly consisting of Alyx herself and Russel, a scientist who Alex remains in constant communication with throughout the game. Their relationship feels genuine, the conversations between them are enjoyable, and almost all of the intended comedic moments land perfectly, which is something most video games seem to have trouble with.
This is a triumph in almost every way. This is the most detailed, deepest and most elaborate VR game yet. No other VR game has so much variety and depth at the same time, combined with such a perfect tempo.
Valve has once again tried to revolutionize the gaming industry with a Half-Life game. With Alyx they’ve tackled the complicated realm of VR creating an experience miles ahead of anything available in this format. It’s way more than just a spin off or an experiment from Valve, it’s a game that can stand toe to toe with all the other chapters of this iconic saga. In a certain way, Valve finally gave us a third Half-Life game and it was worth the wait.
Half-Life: Alyx sets a new high standard for VR games, both in technical terms and gameplay itself. Visually impressive and customizable for accessibility, Alyx’s 20-hour campaign strikes an enjoyable balance between action, horror, puzzle-solving, and humor. VR gamers shouldn’t miss this one.
Too often Half-Life: Alyx feels like baby’s first VR shooter and for many — especially those who purchased VR hardware to play it — this isn’t a dealbreaker. But trading off the Half-Life name for an introductory course to VR relegates HL: Alyx to spin-off territory when the characters involved and the story it tells could be so much more. Alyx Vance deserves better, and so too do VR gamers.