Video game documentary producer Noclip recently showed off some footage of a canceled Half-Life game, Ravenholm. A part of the universe, Ravenholm is a fictional ghost town seen in Half-Life 2, back in 2004.
Known as either Half-Life 2: Episode 4 or Return to Ravenholm, the now-canceled game has some footage unearthed thanks to a documentary on Arkane Studios. Though Ravenholm was only featured in one stage of Half-Life 2, it’s interesting to see how it could have been its own game.
Thanks to an Arkane Studios documentary, footage of Ravenholm has come to light
The footage in the above video is not complete and isn’t really fit for fan consumption. There are bits of and pieces that are not finished and have placeholders for parts of the game that would have come later.
Noclip’s Danny O’Dwyer talked about the game being relatively incomplete.
“But it’s important to understand that everything you’re about to see is from an incomplete game, meaning that a lot of stuff is going to be missing and even much of the content that’s here is either an early pass or a placeholder, so elements like art, animations, gameplay, level designs, even voicework, were likely to go through further changes.”
It’s a genuine disappointment because a Half-Life game featureing Dishonored’s choices system and powers/abilities would have no doubt wowed fans of the franchise. It would have been a new direction for Half-Life as a franchise.
The footage showed the protagonist being given an exposition dump from Father Grigori, a priest and the sole survivor of the city. The peace doesn’t last long, as zombies come bursting in, forcing the player to flee.
This fits the original Half-Life stage as well, which definitely felt like a horror game squished into Half-Life 2. It looked like combat would have been interesting. The melee attacks look like they could have knocked the zombies around, potentially into danger - onto spikes, perhaps over railings as well.
Several traits that Arkane later made famous were present in this unfinished game, like laying traps that use electricity. This will be familiar to players of games like Prey and Deathloop for sure. The game is ultimately incomplete and will likely never truly come to light, and yet it’s a fascinating look into what goes into making a video game, and a hint of what could have been.
The game by Arkane was canceled because of how confining the game was, and the zombie attack theme may have been “played out." There’s a lot of interesting footage and music in the video though, so fans of Half-Life 2 definitely need to take a peek at what almost was. Eventually, Half-Life saw another game released, in Half-Life: Alyx, but it will still be interesting to see this game come to life.