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Half-Life: Alyx: VR Game of The Year

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Half Life: Alyx: VR Game of The Year

‘The Verge’ called it ‘Game of The Year’, ‘The Game Awards, 2020’ bestowed it with ‘The Best VR/AR’ award, and ‘VR Awards’ gave it ‘Game of The Year’ Award. ‘Half-Life: Alyx’ has exceeded expectations and is by all means VR game of the year.

Released in 2020 by ‘Valve’ (same developers behind ‘Half-Life ), ‘Half-Life: Alyx’ follows the story of Alyx Vance, 5 years prior to the events of ‘Half-Life 2’. The plot follows a 19-year-old Alyx Vance who is fighting against ‘The Combine’ alongside her father. The game is a VR, Open world game, and opens with Alyx’s father, Dr.Eli Vance, getting arrested. Alyx then embarks on a journey to rescue him with a little help from her English pal Russel.

The game’s trailer has over 11 million and has been receiving critical acclaim ever since. While it may not be ‘Half-Life 3’, it certainly is an unlikely achiever that has won the hearts of both professional gamers and casual admirers of the series alike. Here’s why we think that ‘Half-Life: Alyx’ is the ‘VR Game of The Year’:

Assessing ‘Half-Life: Alyx’: Why is it the VR Game of The Year?

There are some pioneers and trendsetters in the VR category, such as: ‘Beat Saber’, ‘Superhot VR’, ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s: Help Wanted’ etc. but in one way or another HLA exceeds them all.

Here are some parameters that ‘Half-Life: Alyx’ has succeeded in:

Plot/Narrative:

Being a VR game does not hold HLA back in terms of narrative and plot in any way whatsoever. The narrative could not be more engaging and relevant, keeping in mind the original game’s storyline. The events of this game take place after the events of ‘Half-Life 1’ and prior to the events of ‘Half-Life 2’. Alyx, in the game, is on a mission to seize a superweapon from the alien empire of ‘Combine’ and rescue her father.

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During the opening of the game, Alyx’s father, Dr. Eli Vance is captured by the Combine. A fellow resistance member Russel helps Alyx along the way and also informs her that he will be taken to ‘Nova Prospekt’ for interrogation. Alyx, then armed with a few resources sets out to venture into the quarantine zone.

The plot of the game is enough to make even a casual admirer of the franchise nostalgic. The storyline that unfolds, especially towards the end of the game, is enough to make fanboys and fangirls squeal with excitement. The connection that has been established between the two original games and ‘Half-Life: Alyx’ is amazing.

The fans can recognize many terms and aspects of the game that they have not heard about in 13 years. It also lets the player know how Gordon Freeman is actually woken up from ‘Stasis’. The game also very neatly establishes the connection between Gordon Freeman and Alyx Vance for new players.

Another important point that many people and critics have not addressed is the game’s tones. While ‘Half-Life’ had elements of cosmic horror, ‘Half-Life 2’ was a bit more action-oriented. ‘Half-Life: Alyx’, however, is action-oriented, interlaced with environmental tones and with a dash of horror, making a perfect recipe for ‘VR Game of The Year’

Hence, it is safe to say that ‘Half-Life: Alyx’ aced this round with flying colors.

Characters:

This aspect of the game could not have been better. The characters in this game are all known to the players. The characters that used to be the background characters in the original games have been given center stage this time. Alyx for example is the protagonist this time. The character arcs of each and every character are very engaging. The game has rekindled a passion for a franchise that has been lying dormant for 13 years.

'Half-Life: Alyx': Game of The Year
G-Man’s evolution through the years

Okay! now, let us talk about the ‘Elephant in The Room’, return of fan-favorite characters. The players will once again encounter the enigma that is G-Man after 13 years! But most importantly our favorite crow-bar wielding physicist and hero Gordon Freeman makes a comeback!

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Hearing names like Dr. Eli Vance, The G-Man, Headcrabs, The combine, etc. after 13 years feels like listening about an old friend, Isn’t it?

If there is any developer who knows how to make its players teary-eyed with nostalgia, it is ‘Valve’

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Gameplay:

HLA’s gameplay is as engaging as its plot. The game sees Alyx fight her way through the quarantined city as she enters area 17. The game provides Alyx with several resources such as the ingenious ‘Gravity Glove’, which allows players to get hold of objects lying far away ( could possibly be a subtle nod to the ‘Gravity Gun’ from the original games)

vr game of the year
The ‘Gravity Gloves’ from the game

While on her way, Alyx encounters various species of Xen aliens and Combine’s soldiers. The Xen alien are equal parts creepy and equal parts funny! The aliens are to be defeated using weapons in some cases and tactics in others. The creative ways with which we can defeat mindless Xen aliens is very engaging and makes the game even more noteworthy.

Pewdiepie’s stream on the game was one of the funniest

HLA is not only a great VR game but also a first-person shooter game, something ‘Half-Life’ is known for. It is a bit challenging to keep in mind the way you are supposed to load a gun but once you get used to it, you realize that it is actually very innovative. The players have to reach out behind their shoulders in order to grab ammunition for the gun. It is a little tough at first with the VR wires but once you get used to it, it is really good.

'Half-Life: Alyx': VR Game of The Year
A ‘Container Puzzle’ from the game

HLA is full of thrilling action but just like a classic ‘Half-Life’ game, it has physics puzzles as well. The puzzles are very well programmed and quite engaging.

The ‘Headcrabs’ just like Xens make a return but with better graphics and smooth run. The gameplay is unadulterated and in all honesty, ‘trailblazing’

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Technical Design:

This might be the first time that a company as big as ‘Valve’ has released a triple AAA game. The game, when announced seemed like a very ambitious project but it has proven the high caliber that ‘Valve’ possesses. For a VR game, the graphics are mind-blowing and it is rather bewildering to think that how did they pull it off so well!

Despite being a VR game runs at a consistent speed of 60 frames per second (fps). There is absolutely no doubt that ‘Half-Life: Alyx’ is a technical achievement.

The way devs have made the best use of technology and it evolves our ideas about VR itself. The immersion is at its fullest. It feels as if you are actually Alyx and you are scouting Area 17 yourself.

Conclusion:

‘Half-Life: Alyx’ has undeniably breathed a new life not only into the ‘Half-Life’ franchise but into the VR gaming itself. It is a pulse-pounding and thrilling joy-ride. The seemingly dead franchise and its fan base have been raised from the dead. The now resurrected fan base has hope now for, God-willing, ‘Half-Life 3’!

The game not only gives depth to Alyx’s character, but it also establishes a clear connection with the previous two ‘Half-Life’ games (which brings it into the franchise’s mainstream), reverses the ending of ‘Half-Life: Episode two’, and most importantly, leaves a perfect scope for ‘Half-Life 3’

The game itself and the reception it received, are both a testament to the enduring legacy of ‘Half-Life’. Hence, the game is definitely ‘VR Game of The Year’

FAQs on ‘Half-Life: Alyx

  1. What are the system requirements for ‘Half-Life: Alyx’?

    The game requires a 64-bit processor and operating system (Windows 10), Processor: Core i5-7500/Ryzen 5 1600, and a memory of 12 GB RAM.

  2. Is ‘Half-Life: Alyx’ ‘Half-life 3’?

    No, actually ‘Half-Life: Alyx’ is a prequel to the original games. Its events take place between the events of ‘Half-Life 1’ and ‘Half-Life 2’.

  3. Is ‘Half-Life 3’ canceled?

    ‘Half-Life 3’ was in development in 2013-14 but it was canceled abruptly. At the moment, there is no official news on it.

A staunch Stoic who believes in doing things in the most unconventional manner, marching towards the Valhalla of excellence. Likes: comic book nerds, Dystopian literature, and oratory. Dislikes: small talk and stagnation of growth and ideas.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Zoya Naqvi

    January 23, 2021 at 3:11 PM

    This article made me nostalgic and excited…Keep writing such articles!!

    • Kesa Haider

      January 23, 2021 at 3:17 PM

      Thank you so much!

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