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. Set between the events of Half-Life and Half-Life 2, Alyx Vance and her father Eli mount an early resistance to the Combine's brutal occupation of Earth.
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Finally, the first VR game where I actually felt like I was playing a video game instead of a neat tech-demo. That being said, ‘Alyx’ still felt generally simplistic in its design and gameplay loop. Scavenging through cupboards and shooting zombies and soldiers was the name of the game, except now it’s you committing to these actions with your own hands. If this wasn’t the case then ‘Alyx’ would have been fine but VR absolutely enhanced it in every way. The mere act of grabbing a can of soup was on its own so amusing due to the several possibilities involving said can. You can throw it at an enemy to stun them or use it to distract them. This freeform way of dealing with situations made for an endlessly entertaining string of segments. This ranged from intense shooting skirmishes that had me ducking and weaving in real life to horrifically dark tunnels that were crawling with headcrabs. I always felt excited due to being completely in control of every situation. Now the only gameplay moments that did get tiring were the hacking mini-games. Disarming trip mines by moving a ball through small hoops was tense since if you failed you died abruptly but matching shapes with each other and moving a key through lasers never hooked me. To be honest, they were more interesting than most hacking mini-games from other titles but compared to the rest of the game they lacked any interesting concepts. Throwing that element to the side there’s only one other portion left to discuss; the story. If it weren’t for the ending this tofu block of a tale hadn’t done much of anything to hook me. Granted, at the time I was playing through this I had yet to play any of the other ‘Half-Life’ games. Though after I did play them all my perspective on most of ‘Alyx’s’ story never improved. The goal of the game is for Alyx to rescue her dad from the oppressive alien force known as the Carbine. Of course, there’s more that occurs towards the end but that was the basic outline and mission. So if this is your first ‘Half-Life’ experience then nothing will probably fucking matter since you don’t learn much of anything about Alyx’s father nor about Alyx herself. So motivation is fairly limited unless you play the previous games in the franchise. However, without spoiling it, the ending 1000% means Half-Life 3 is coming out because if it doesn’t I will swallow Valve headquarters whole. All in all, this was a great game and one that absolutely does not warrant buying a $1000 VR headset for so just freeload off your friend for their headset to play it. Bye-bye.