clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Footage from Arkane’s canceled Half-Life episode will surface in a documentary

The game would have taken players back to Ravenholm

If you buy something from a Polygon link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Alyx Vance and Gordon Freeman stand side-by-side Image: Valve Software
Austen Goslin (he/him) is an entertainment editor. He writes about the latest TV shows and movies, and particularly loves all things horror.

The release of Half-Life: Alyx already makes this the busiest Half-Life year since 2007, but it turns out fans still have more to look forward to. The team at Noclip, which produces lavish documentaries about video games, is working on a series of episodes about Arkane Studios. While it’s probably best known for the Dishonored series, Arkane also worked on unreleased sequel to Half-Life 2. On Friday, Noclip teased footage from that game, which will be included in the episodes which begin airing next week.

On social media, Noclip teased footage with a short gif that shows off a character — possibly Gordon Freeman himself — fighting off a very strong zombie. The zombie eventually rips a door off its hinges before our hero punches it in the face. It’s not much to go on, but any entry into the history books of Half-Life is cause for some excitement.

Arkane Studios’ Half-Life game would have been titled Half-Life 2: Episode 4, and it was also subtitled Return to Ravenholm at some point in development. As the subtitle suggests, the game would have taken players to Ravenholm and would have been set sometime before Half-Life 2: Episode 2. The studio reportedly worked on the game through 2006 and some of 2007, but the project was ultimately canceled.

According to Marc Laidlaw, Valve software’s writer on all of the Half-Life games except for Alyx, Episode 4 was canceled for a few reasons. For one thing, the fact that it went backwards in time, rather than continuing on after the end of Half-Life 2, meant that it would be creatively constrained. Valve also apparently felt that the Ravenholm aesthetic with its many headcrabs and zombies, might have been played out by then.

After the project was canceled, it remained mostly a secret. The first rumors of the project cropped up in 2011 when a breach in Eidos’ servers led to the release of a resume with Half-Life 2: Episode 4 listed on it. In 2012, Laidlaw finally confirmed that the game was in development and that Arkane had been working on it.

If this tweet’s brief glimpse at the game is any indication, it seems that Noclip’s documentary on Arkane Studios should shed plenty of new light on the canceled Return to Ravenholm project and possibly on some other parts of the Half-Life franchise.


Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.