Oh, the pain this brings us. Last year, it was revealed that Arkane Studios, the dashing folks responsible for Arx Fatalis and last year’s Dishonored, were working on Half-life 2: Episode 4 at one point, although the project never came to fruition. We thought we’d never know how such a title would look like… until now.
Firstly, why Episode 4, you ask? After all, Episode 3 hasn’t even been made yet! Well, according to this article from PC Gamer, there were four Half-life 2 episodes planned from the very start, meaning that an Episode 3 was (or still is… DUN-DUN-DUN!) most likely in consideration or even production at Valve, and that it maybe would have wrapped up the plotline started by Episode 1.
Episode 4, meanwhile, was to be a spinoff that took place in the zombie-infested town of Ravenholm. In fact, it was to have the subtitle Return to Ravenholm. However, it was ultimately canceled, mostly because of creative constraints and the fact that the whole zombie theme was starting to get a bit overplayed at that point (even more so now). Valve writer Marc Laidlaw said just as much in last year’s interview with LambdaGenration:
As I recall, we felt like a lot of the staples of Ravenholm–headcrabs and zombies!–were pretty much played out, and the fact that it would have to take place sometime before the end of Episode 2 (so as not to advance beyond where Valve had pushed the story) was a creative constraint that would hamper the project…and Arkane.
Anyways, thanks to some digging or great connections (or both), ValveTime has just gotten hold of a few new video and image assets from the production, which can be seen below. I must say, Ravenholm looks as wonderfully atmospheric and creepy as ever, and the “absorption” meter on the HUD hints at what could have been a cool new gameplay mechanic. Would you have been able to absorb zombie blood? Were you to be equipped with a ShamWow? Speculate, my brothers!
We’ve also included some concept art for the episode, made by concept artist Randy Humphries, that was revealed back in 2011. Stay tuned for more news and rumors regarding potential Half-life projects here at OnlySP.