Cancelled Half Life: Ravenholm – Documentary shows Gameplay & Story of the Arkane Studios Spin-off

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Many years ago, there was supposed to be a spin-off to Half Life called “Half Life: Ravenholm“, which was supposed to be made by the Prey & Dishonered developer Arkane Studios. But it never came to a release, and a documentary by Noclip now gets to the bottom of the lost track. What they found, we now reveal.

What’s going on? Even before the VR spin-off “Alyx”, there was supposed to be an official new Half Life with the epithet Ravenholm. This would have sent us through a horror movie-ready story and setting in the mining town of “Ravenholm” together with the popular character Father Grigori. Unfortunately, it never came to pass, as Half Life: Ravenholm was canceled. Without leaving any real traces — so far!

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One-hour documentary shows what happened to Half Life: Ravenholm

What does the documentary show? With the documentary on Half Life: Ravenholm released last night, Noclip wants to do just one thing: archive video game history and capture it for future generations of gamers. Accordingly, the documentary takes a deep look into the events surrounding Ravenholm. Additionally, there are some previously unseen snippets of gameplay. The documentary shows about an hour of new gameplay material.

What’s striking about the gameplay is that Ravenholm was apparently well advanced in development before publisher Valve ultimately cancelled it:

  • Animations are finished and polished
  • Voice acting is to a large extent already finished
  • Already 5 chapters of Half Life Ravenholm were almost completely finished.

Why was Ravenholm canceled? The reason Half Life Ravenholm was canceled despite being far along in development is the timeline. According to Valve and developer Arkane, the timeline and story in Ravenholm was simply too confusing. The story didn’t fit chronologically with the rest of the Half-Life story.

Completely new gameplay in Half Life Ravenholm? That would be new!

Of course, a sequel or spin-off only works well if it adds a shovel of content on top of its predecessor! Ravenholm was based on the same engine as Half Life 2, sharing many animations and sounds with the main part. Still, you can clearly see the graphical evolution.

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Priest Grigori (Source: Noclip)

The new enemies: The setting and the opponents were really new. In Half Life Ravenholm, you would have fought mainly against normal zombies. But normal zombies, not Half-Life zombies. Headcrabs and Co. are of course still part of the game.

Already in chapter 1 you can discover the new zombie variety because after a short breakfast they break through all windows. The new zombies are faster, more agile and appear in larger masses.

Other new enemies:

  • Acid-spitting zombie
  • Modified monkeys
  • Final boss Grigori

New combat system: Compared to the well-known Half-Life titles, Arkane Studios’ combat system also stands out: They took inspiration from their work “Dark Messiah of Might and Magic”, where you can wreak insane havoc with physics. In Half Life Ravenholm, the following adjustments are the main ones that remind us strongly of Dying Light:

  • Melee combat is more important than ever.
  • Zombies grab weapons from the environment (pipes, boards, stones etc.)
  • Zombies can be pushed, kicked and punched over parapets.
  • They trip and fall, breaking or knocking over objects.
  • Zombies can be destroyed with the environment, like spikes you can kick them into.

The new Multitool & Puzzles: Half Live Ravenholm wouldn’t have put a gravity gun or anything like that in your hand at the start. In any case, the focus in the spin-off is no longer on gravity, as in Half Life 2. Instead, electricity is now at the core of the gameplay. You could have used that in Ravenholm not only to eliminate annoying enemies. You can also solve puzzles and riddles with the help of electricity.

To make the variation even greater, you get a nail gun, which on the one hand serves as a weapon and on the other shoots nails as connectors for electricity. You could have collected the nails over and over again.

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Electricity Puzzle (Source: Noclip)

Half Life Ravenholm would have been a real horror game

In Noclip’s one-hour documentary about Ravenholm, one aspect quickly becomes clear: Ravenholm is not a classic Half Life, it is a real horror shooter. This was supported by the creepy setting that Half Life veterans know from the Ravenholm level. The old mining town has a lot to offer:

  • Graveyards
  • Abandoned hospitals
  • Rotting cellar vaults
  • Empty streets

In all of these sections, you as the player should have expected jumpscares. Classic horror clichés, such as dolls and eerie yowling in the distance, would also have added to the atmosphere. However, we don’t want to reveal more about Noclip’s documentary. We recommend you to watch it yourself and enjoy the final level, with all the now known features!

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