Today the world was introduced to the first footage of Half-Life: Alyx, a VR action game from Valve Software. It’s been 12 years since the last entry in the series, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, ended on a brutal cliffhanger, but Alyx will be a prequel, which means closure will have to wait. But maybe not?
[Note: The following contains spoilers from the end of Half-Life 2: Episode Two. But it’s been 12 years, so maybe get on that?]
When last we saw Alyx Vance, she was battling alien overlords with Gordon Freeman (the longstanding silent protagonist of the Half-Life series), and Eli Vance, her father. Unfortunately things didn’t go great. In a heartbreaking climax, Eli is grabbed by his neck and lifted into the air. You can watch the scene play out in this YouTube clip, starting at 7:20:
Just before he’s killed, Eli screams, “Close your eyes, honey!” to Alyx. Then his dead body is thrown to the floor in a heap. The game fades to black with Alyx weeping over her dead father. The Combine isn’t defeated, humanity is still pretty well doomed, and things are looking grim.
Cue 12 years of radio silence.
In Half-Life: Alyx, players will control the titular character in events presumably leading right up to the beginning of Half-Life 2. But the trailer also focuses on events that happen during Half-Life 2 and its episodes, with special attention paid to Eli’s death. In voiceover we hear someone (likely a Vortigaunt) say, “You will not save him. Alyx Vance alone cannot prevent his fate.” Following that line we hear Eli’s words, “Close your eyes, honey!” An echo of what he said at the end of Episode 2.
Just that call-out alone would make Half-Life: Alyx not so much a prequel as taking place (at least partially) during the events of the previous games.
But given the comically long wait between Half-Life installments, it seems outrageous to think that this new game would end in the exact same way, with Eli dying and Alyx weeping over him. It has to move the story along a little bit, right?
Of course the alternative option is that Eli Vance just says “Close your eyes, honey” at some point over the course of this prequel and him saying it at the end of Episode 2 is a callback to that. Or, who knows, maybe the G-Man, who makes a brief cameo at the end of today’s teaser trailer, pulls some time-travel ridiculousness to make this all happen?
This is all pure speculation, but given the trials that Half-Life has gone through since Episode 2’s release, it seems possible that Half-Life: Alyx may actually close the loop on the franchise for Valve. Maybe it’ll provide an actual ending to this story? At least to the point where fans can stop asking Valve for Half-Life 3? Either way, we’ll get our answer when Half-Life: Alyx drops in March of next year.