From 2005 to 2008, French studio Arkane—who we now know as the team behind Dishonored and Deathloop—were working on a Half-Life game. We knew this, and have even seen the game before, but today we got a real good look at it.
Back in 2020, the documentary series Noclip featured an episode on the history of Arkane, and as part of that showed off some footage of what was known internally at Arkane as Ravenholm, a Half-Life spin-off game that, like everything else Half-Life-related for the best part of 15 years, ended up getting cancelled and never seeing the light of day. Now, two years later, they’re showing off a ton more footage of the game.
Set in…Ravenholm, a dark, almost horror-game section briefly seen in Half-Life 2, it featured a larger role for that region’s mad, gun-wielding priest Father Grigori. It would have let us explore the area fully, take in new sights, meet new people, use new weapons and face a different set of enemies, with many of Ravenholm’s inhabitants being human zombies, rather than gun-wielding Combine soldiers.
As Noclip’s Danny O’Dwyer explains in the video—which runs for over an hour—this is not and was never a finished game, so nothing you’re seeing here is remotely close to what we could/would have enjoyed had this ever seen the light of day. Animations are under-done, voice-acting is placeholder, textures and models are still works in progress. One of the new weapons is so raw it may as well be hand-drawn with a note stuck on it saying “GUN GOES HERE”.
Which is great! I fucking love seeing games in this state. Video games are an overly-secretive business, and it’s rare we get to see in-development stuff like this, so we should savour it whenever we get the chance. And even through all the rough edges, it’s cool seeing Arkane’s signature moves, like smacking dudes over objects (something we’ve enjoyed right through to Deathloop), make an appearance.
You can see the full video below, which runs through a number of stages/levels in the game, each one broken up by a little explainer from O’Dwyer that provides some context and information on what you’ve just seen or are about to see.