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Video Game / Half-Life: Alyx

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Russell: Alyx! Alyx?
Alyx Vance: I'm here... So what's the plan?

Half-Life: Alyx is a VR First-Person Shooter developed and published by Valve, serving as an Interquel to Half-Life and Half-Life 2, and the first installment of the series since 2007's Half-Life 2: Episode Two. It was released on March 23rd, 2020 on Steam for SteamVR-compatible systems (e.g. Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Oculus Quest, Windows Mixed Reality, and PIMAX).

Set five years before the events of Half-Life 2, the player takes control of Human Resistance member Alyx Vance as she and her father Eli take the fight to the Combine. After Eli discovers a secret that the Combine have tried to keep hidden and is captured by them, she must venture into the Quarantine Zone to save him from imprisonment—or worse. Along the way she is assisted by Russell, who serves as Alyx's Mission Control, and the Gravity Gloves (or "Russells" as they're referred to) which serve as short-range prototype predecessors of the Gravity Gun.

Teased as a "flagship VR title," Valve wanted to develop a AAA VR title after working on VR technology with Vive, seeing it at as something players would desire. Following a prototype using Half-Life 2's assets, the game entered full production with a team of 80 people, using an updated Source 2 engine. The game was revealed with a trailer in November 2019. Marc Laidlaw and Kelly Bailey, the former writer and composer of the Half-Life games respectively, served as consultants for the game.

Previews: Anouncement Trailer, Gameplay Video 1, Gameplay Video 2, Gameplay Video 3.

CURRENT ASSIGNMENT: Listing trope examples in Half-Life: Alyx

  • 11th-Hour Superpower: At the very end, the Gravity Gloves gain the ability to absorb and shoot Vortigaunt energy bolts from nodes inside the Vault, in the vein of the Dark Energy Gravity Gun from Half-Life 2 and Episode One.
  • Adaptation Personality Change:
    • The Combine Soldiers in Alyx behave very differently from their Half-Life 2 counterparts. Unlike HL2's soldiers with their very mechanical tone of voice, Newspeak-addled dialogue and general lack of humanity, Alyx's soldiers are much more human-like, having casual conversations while on duty, similar to the first game's HECU Marines. They also panic more frequently during combat, and can occasionally try to convince Alyx to surrender mid-fight. This is justified because, as this is set before the events of Half-Life 2, these troops have had relatively fewer augmentations with the elite variants (being the most heavily augmented) being more in line with HL2's Overwatch Soldiers.
      [Grunt 1 is messing around with the remains of a Strider]
      Grunt 2: He's kicking it. (Beat; to Grunt 1) Overwatch says stop kicking it.
      [Grunt 1 slowly backs away]
      Grunt 2: He stopped kicking it.
    • Their gameplay mechanics are also significantly altered, with them now seeking cover and using grenades and Manhacks to flush the player out of their own cover. This was explained in the developer commentary as necessary for the medium change, as their flat screen presentation—charging in with guns blazing—was rejected as unsatisfying and overwhelming by playtesters.
  • Airstrip One: The game returns to the same anonymous "City 17" that Half-Life 2 took place in. The dev commentary mentions that the city's art direction was meant to emphasize the contempt and disregard that the Combine have for human architecture, with their brutal, utilitarian fixtures punching through pre-existing buildings and murals with abandon.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: In The Stinger, after Alyx is put into stasis, you briefly control Gordon Freeman in the aftermath of the changed ending of Episode Two, complete with HEV Suit gloves and even the faint silhouette of his glasses over the player's vision to differentiate him from Alyx.
  • Alien Kudzu: The majority of the game takes place within the Quarantine Zone, a section of City 17 that has a bad infestation of Xen wildlife and plant matter. The alien biomass grows at a fast rate, encasing entire rooms and buildings, spewing noxious spores and giving refuge to some species not seen outside the QZ. The Combine have even set up a cleaning force to reclaim the district... to a questionable success.
  • All There in the Manual: The Final Hours of Half-Life: Alyx reveals that the Lone Vortigaunt whom Alyx encounters hiding in the QZ is named "Gary". This is further supported by it being in his model name.
  • Always Check Behind the Chair: Ammo and resin are scattered throughout the game either in containers or wedged in out-of-the way crevices, so keep your eyes peeled and check every nook and cranny.
  • Antepiece:
    • The player learns to jump/"teleport" in the first chapter, where they must stand at the top of a ramp and aim their controller toward the top of the adjacent low wall. Failure to do this properly merely results in the player landing back on the ground, forcing them to climb back up the ramp and try again. Later areas that require jumping tend to be less forgiving, with the threat of Alyx taking a lethal drop down a few floors or into a bottomless pit.
    • Two notable examples with "Jeff":
      • Jeff's introduction confines him to a narrow hallway below the player and provides numerous objects to throw (and accidentally send falling below), allowing the player to practice baiting him around safely. There's also a "training alcove" in the hallway with the crusted-down roller door that separates Jeff and the player—it lets Jeff stand close to the player's position to threaten them, but cannot actually attack them as the player toys with the various triggers of the level (e.g. glass bottles of vodka, a locker whose lock has to be destroyed with a gunshot for its contents, another locker filled with noise-making Xen clams).
      • In an early puzzle, you are required to lure and lock Jeff inside a walk-in refrigerator. The refrigerator door is relatively complex for its need of both hands: you must slide it closed and hold it shut with one hand, while you secure the latch with your other hand. Earlier in the chapter, you get to open an identical refrigerator door, giving you a chance to observe how it works without the pressure of being killed if you take too long fumbling with it.
    • Other examples include the armored headcrab and Reviver zombie introductions, which safely separate the player from the new threats with chainlink fences. Somewhat subverted with the Reviver zombie, since it can electrify the player through the metal fence.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Many enemies have weak points that insta-kill or deal heavy damage to enemies. The Reflex Sight upgrades for the pistol and SMG highlight enemy weak points while you aim.
    • Some zombies have glowing green growths on their limbs. Shooting them instantly kills the headcrab.
    • The Armored Headcrabs have a bullet-proof crust covering their whole body. The only exposed flesh they have is their mouths, forcing the player to wait for the headcrab to expose itself by getting ready to leap at the player's face. Fortunately, should the headcrab fail, it will flail around on its back for a few seconds, leaving its mouth exposed for gunfire.
    • Antlions have vulnerable abdomens that are only occasionally visible to the player, especially after they shoot out their legs.
    • Some Combine Overwatch troops carry some manner of gas tanks; hitting the pressure valve will cause it to explode, killing the carrier and any nearby enemies.
    • Shooting a grenade will cause it to go live and detonate after a few seconds. This includes grenades still being carried by enemies.
    • The Revivers/"Lightning Dogs" can possess corpses, and will periodically inflate parts of the corpse's body, which you then have to shoot to injure it.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The game incorporates many of these to maintain the diegetic interface of VR and to help maintain maximum immersion, as well as minimizing potentially frustrating factors.
    • If you have less than three or four of a given ammo type, Alyx will call out how much ammo you have left during a firefight so the player can make snap decisions about which guns to use next. As well, each gun has a way of displaying how much ammunition is remaining.note 
    • Levels are designed to be absolutely littered with health and ammo drops, which the game will procedurally withhold from players who don't need them. This means that at any time the player is strapped for resources, the game will spontaneously become more generous until they're out of danger.
    • The Russells have an interface that tells you exactly how much health, ammo and resin you have depending on the context (the ammo and resin counter share a screen, and switch between the two of them depending on if you have a gun equipped or not; and if so, which gun).
    • The Russells have exceptionally accurate grabbing range and can usually tell exactly what you're intending to aim at. If you gravity-grab a shotgun shell that happens to be next to a bunch of other shotgun shells, all of them get flicked towards you at once and Alyx will automatically grab all of them with one hand. The Russells' "object flight time" is also constant between the pull and catch, meaning it always takes less than a second for an item 5 inches away or 5 yards away to reach the player's hand.
    • Pretty much anything small can be grabbed with the Russells, but when a bunch of items are stacked together, the auto-aim tether will prioritize the most important things Alyx can grab — ammo, resin, and other inventory pickups.
    • If you forget to retrieve a weapon from the Combine fabricator after placing it there, it will automatically teleport back into your inventory after you move on.
      • Related: you can never lose the flashlight, which was previously developed for Alyx as a handheld, in-the-level object that the player could hypothetically place to give themselves a light source.
    • If you throw a grenade into a Barnacle tongue, it won't explode until the Barnacle swallows it, regardless of how much time was still on the fuse.
    • The jump indicator will display a red skull icon if the point you are trying to jump to will result in your death via fall damage. This is enforced the first time the player gets this on their jump indicator, with dialogue from Alyx and Russell confirming that a jump from that height would be lethal.
    • Jeff doesn't hear the beep made when you add resin or ammo to your backpack. He also doesn't hear the sound of health pens being used or dropped on the floor. Generally, Jeff can hear gunshots, bottles shattering, and the general environment being disturbed. The "Xen ear" flora in the Jeff chapter are exceptionally helpful with what sounds will alert Jeff: if they heard it, then Jeff heard it too.
    • If you attempt to put an item into a gravity glove's pocket that is already occupied, the new item will replace the old one and the old one will fall out.
    • Before they're formally introduced as standalone enemies, headcrabs will never drop off and continue attacking you after killing a headcrab zombie, even if you only ever attack the zombie's body, so as to not overwhelm first-time players who are still getting to grips with VR combat. Later in the game, this behaviour also applies to zombies that act as distractions during fights with more threatening enemies (such as the double Reviver/"Lightning Dog" arena near the end of The Northern Star Hotel).
    • It's impossible to release the slide on an empty pistol unless you insert a new magazine first, to avoid making it possible for the gun to appear loaded when it actually isn't.
  • Arc Words: Although they aren't mentioned in the game except for The Stinger, we finally learn just what "Unforeseen Consequences" the G-Man was referring to. By freeing the G-Man from the Vault and wreaking havoc on the Combine in the process, Alyx proved her "extraordinary value", thus leading to her (involuntary) employment at the G-Man's hands. As a result, she's plucked from the altered post-Episode Two timeline and put into indefinite stasis, just like Gordon was at the end of the first Half-Life. Eli is not pleased to learn that this chain of events—his life for Alyx Vance—is what "Unforeseen Consequences" referred to, and prepares to saddle up with Gordon to mount a Roaring Rescue of Revenge.
  • Art Evolution: Due to being made on the Source 2 engine, and the 13 year "prequel gap" between Episode Two and Alyx, environments are now more detailed than ever before, and character designs, new and old, have been tweaked to fit the updated art style.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Combine soldiers don't really react or run away when a grenade is tossed near them, in stark contrast to how humanoid enemies responded in prior games. As confirmed by the commentary mode, this was deliberately done, because implementing the aggressive enemy AI and movement from Half-Life 2 in a VR space would have overwhelmed players on top of the already-difficult VR-based combat.
  • Back for the Finale: After The Reveal of the G-Man being the Vault prisoner, Alyx is shown a silhouette of Gordon Freeman (this time portrayed with a proper character model) in the G-Man's illusions. The G-Man specifically refers to him as "[a] previous hire", rather than Gordon Freeman.
    • The Distant Epilogue of the changed Episode Two ending sees the return of Gordon as a player character, as well as Eli and D0g.
  • Bait-and-Switch: "Point Extraction" is the name of the final chapter set in the Vault, which seems to be a Call-Forward to the first chapter of Half-Life 2, "Point Insertion". That chapter sees Gordon inserted into the City 17-bound train by the G-Man. "Point Extraction", however, sees Alyx freeing from the cell not Gordon, but the G-Man, who then proceeds to extract both himself and Alyx out from the Vault.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Lone Vortigaunt whom Alyx meets early in the game turns up just in time to save Eli from a lethal fall into a pit, after Alyx derails the Nova Prospekt-bound train.
  • Blackout Basement: While crossing the quarantine zone, Alyx must navigate a dimly lit subterranean network of sewers. Some parts of it are downright pitch black, forcing Alyx to use a flashlight.
    • A literal blackout basement in the Northern Star Hotel, where Alyx needs to descend to the basement to flip a breaker and turn off the power, but that also turns off the lights, forcing her to rely on her flashlight as she ascends back up.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The game takes full advantage of its new engine and VR setting to let you get up and close to all kinds of realistic, detailed flesh and gore effects:
    • In Half-Life 2, we never got to see the actual mechanics of how the Health Chargers worked. In Alyx, we discover that the Combine use Antlion grubs to fuel them (most likely due to their healing properties as seen in Episode Two). Before you can use the Chargers, you must place a grub container onto the device, then watch up-close as the grub is crushed and its juices are extracted. Then, if you completely use up this grub container, the station will suck out the unusable remains and spit them out onto the floor. Gross...
    • Any headcrab shot point-blank with a shotgun won't be sent flying like in Half-Life 2; instead, they will be outright blown apart into meaty chunks. Armored headcrabs always die this way when their weak points are struck.
    • It's subtle, but Valve worked on a dynamic gore/destruction system for Combine soldiers. Bullets fired into them will tear through their uniform and leave a lasting bloody bullet wound in the flesh beneath.
  • Body Horror:
    • Headcrabs make a return, being the small four-legged creatures that will stick themselves to someone's head, pierce their skull and control their body. The player comes across abandoned corpses of headcrab zombies, which show skin on the head being pulled out of place, but with the expressions of agony still intact. There is also Jeff, a horribly mutated former Combine worker that is covered with fleshy growths and whose head is akin to a fleshy venus flytrap.
    • More subtly done with the Lone Vortigaunt from the Quarantine Zone, who bears scars, bandages, and several pieces of Combine metal fused on his extremities, suggesting that the Combine used medical means to experiment on or torture him. One particular scar on the side of his head is a result of the Combine drilling into his brain and cutting him off from the Vortessence, and with it every other Vortigaunt in existence.
  • Book Ends:
    • The first and last pieces of dialogue involve characters addressing the player character. In the beginning, Alyx accepts a video call from Eli ("Alyx! How's it lookin' up there?"), at which point they trade status reports on their respective operations. The circa-Episode Two Distant Finale sees Eli urging Gordon Freeman to wake up following the Advisor's sudden death and Alyx's subsequent disappearance ("Gordon! Gordon! Wake up, Gordon!").
    • The first section of the game sees Alyx captured by Combine Overwatch, with Alyx panicking and telling them to wait. The end of "Point Extraction" sees Alyx put into stasis by the G-Man, with her begging him to wait as he coldly walks away.
  • Breaking Old Trends:
    • Half-Life: Alyx is the first Half-Life game where the Player Character is fully voiced, rather than a Heroic Mime for the duration of the player's control (like Barney Calhoun from Blue Shift being a fully-voice non-player character in Half-Life 2).
    • It's also the first game in the franchise where the main character doesn't fight with a primary melee weapon (i.e: the crowbar or the pipe wrench) alongside their assortment of weapons. Not counting The Stinger where Eli hands Gordon his iconic crowbar; it's not used for anything else beyond the ending. Rather than do this to buck the old "trend", however, developer commentary pointed out that this was the result of VR melee combat not working out to their satisfaction, as well as people continuing to associate the crowbar with a character that they weren't even playing as, so they cut it from the main game.
    • This is the first Half-Life game to have a post-credits Stinger scene that follows the aftermath of the game's events.
  • Broken Lever of Doom: Once Alyx reaches Fairview Junction, she has to activate a Combine console in order to activate the emergency brakes for the train carrying Eli. A lever on the console breaks off the moment she grabs it, however, forcing her to find another way to stop the train.
  • Call-Forward:
    • Alyx's pistol in Half-Life 2 looks vaguely like it has an M1911 grip, with the other parts kitbashed from other guns. Alyx's default pistol in this game is indeed an M1911 (to be specific, it's a Para-Ordnance LDA, an offshoot of the M1911), and upgrading it will gradually replace the M1911 parts with the chunky, black outer casing Alyx's gun has by the time of Half-Life 2, leaving only the aforementioned M1911-style grip. When the final upgrade is mounted on it, she says this:
      Alyx: Well, Russ, it's official. There is NOTHING left of your gun in this gun. This is just... this is MY gun.
    • The pulse rifles that Combine soldiers use in this game look significantly different from the one in Half-Life 2, and the Combine SMG that Alyx finds later in the game is likely meant to be a prototype of the pulse rifle's Half-Life 2 incarnation. Its energy cells have a similar design, there's an usuable energy ball mount under the barrel, and the extended magazines upgrade will even give it the same auto-loading mechanism.
    • In Alyx's refuge in the start of the game, you can find a picture of D0g, albeit in a form that is much smaller than his appearance in Half-Life 2. This may be D0g as Eli had originally designed and built him for Alyx, before Alyx herself began adding more and more to him. There's also sketches on a clipboard showing some of Alyx's upgrading plans for him.
  • Captain Obvious: Russell feels pretty obliged to remind Alyx that "guns need ammo".
  • Captured Super-Entity: The G-Man is the Combine's prisoner in the Vault, and the effort it takes to keep him sealed has done strange things to the apartment building they’ve locked away with him. Even trapped inside it, he’s capable of exerting influence on its interior, guiding Alyx closer and closer to freeing him.
  • Central Theme: Half-Life: Alyx revolves around "things to come", both in the game's story and the series as a whole. Russell and Alyx often ponder out plans for life after they finally get rid of the Combine, with Russell hoping to mass-produce his gravity gloves and Alyx hoping to make life on post-Combine Earth an 8 out of 10. The Lone Vortigaunt gives Alyx cryptic warnings about future events, both immediate and five years after Alyx (during Half-Life 2: Episode Two). When the mission becomes "saving Gordon Freeman from the Vault", Alyx and Russell consider the possibility of the Resistance taking down the Citadel in City 17 with Gordon's help. The G-Man offers Alyx the chance to save her father five years in the future. In the Distant Epilogue, Eli tells Gordon that "[they have] work to do" in order to find Alyx and the G-Man.
  • Character Development: Subtle case regarding Alyx and the Vortigaunts. Initially, she's politely dismissive at best of the Lone Vortigaunt's forewarnings, likely because she's so focused on finding Eli. After she reaches the Northern Star Hotel building and frees the captive Vortigaunt there, however, she's more willing to trust that they know what they're talking about. That trust is paid off when the Vorts disable all remaining substations, as the ex-captive Vortigaunt assured her.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The Lone Vortigaunt, with the usual load of cryptic Vort dialogue under a layer of overall weirdness and eagerness compared to previously encountered Vortikind. It's intentionally made vague how much of said weirdness is because of his brain injury and how much is just generally him being a Vortigaunt.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • When Alyx questions Russell about City 17's Quarantine Zone, Russell instead explains her to the etymology of the word "quarantine" from the era of the Black Death, which tells her nothing of the horrors inside.
    • When Alyx asks Russell to talk to her to help her (being nyctophobic/afraid of the dark) deal with being in a dark environment, he starts talking about why it's completely logical to be terrified under the circumstances. She later rectifies this by asking about pre-Combine life on Earth instead.
  • Company Cross References: Featured in the trailer and in-game during the Zoo level, a small figurine on a shelf can be found wearing the attire of a BLU Scout. An acompanying RED scout can also be found in Russel's office. There's also some graffiti art of an Aperture Science turret.
    • The prototype notes for D0g include a drawing of one of the quadrupedal robot dogs from The Lab, Valve's previous VR title.
  • Cosmetically-Advanced Prequel: Though set five years prior to Half-Life 2 and its episodes, the Combine and Resistance tech is considerably more advanced here, particularly in the use of complex, manipulable holograms. There are some objects that haven't changed too much in fidelity, such as Combine door seals for unopenable doors.
  • Cosmic Retcon: Deconstructed. Thanks to help from the G-Man, Alyx is able to change Eli's fate in Half-Life 2: Episode Two by killing the Combine Advisor before it has a chance to kill him, but this comes at the cost of her freedom. Also, Eli himself is not pleased with this kind of rescue at all.
  • Crapsack World: Following the Black Mesa Incident, Earth has been defeated by a multidimensional empire that is siphoning all of its resources while keeping the population obedient with an oppressive government that rations bread and vegetable. Vegetable paste, mind you, not fresh ones. Then there are the multiple alien monsters that were brought with the Combine and the portal storms, which have destroyed the ecosystem further, and several parts of City 17 are now dangerous to cross. Alyx and Russell agree to rate their living conditions as a 2 out of 10, compared to the old days' "strong 6", according to Russell.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: A woman in the first chapter can be seen with no less than five cats and a Garfield-esque clock in her apartment.
  • Deadpan Snarker: When Alyx complains about toxic Xen spores and gas, Russell suggests she keep moving, followed by "maybe breathe less."
    • The Combine collaborator is also one of these, having the impatience of someone who wants to speak to a restaurant's manager, except that manager is a Combine Advisor.
  • Deal with the Devil: With the G-Man's interference, Alyx saves her father, but at the cost of her freedom.
  • Demoted to Extra: The Civil Protection Units (aka Metrocops) only show up on the opening and the sequence where Alyx is captured and placed inside a prisoner transport truck. Afterwards they are never encountered as enemies (as the primary Combine forces are Overwatch Soldiers).
  • Denser and Wackier: A Downplayed version, but there's a stronger focus on comedy in the story. It's primarily done through the interactions between Alyx and Russell, but there are other instances throughout the game; one of them includes the early sequence where two Combine CP officers freak out over a live grenade dropped into the driver's cabin.
  • Developer's Foresight: Alyx can pick up and wear items that she finds scattered around the map as hats or masks. Mostly, these are what you'd expect: helmets, respirators, and so on. The game also lets you get creative and wear things like buckets, flower pots and traffic cones on your head. While most of these seem like an Easter Egg, the respirators actually do their job, blocking out the hostile Meat Moss spores in "Jeff". Objects on your head, such as hard hats, will act as shields against barnacles, with the object being grabbed instead of your head. And if you wear a hard hat, after Larry exchanges names with Alyx, he will briefly mention the "nice helmet" you're wearing.
    • During the first chapter while apprehended in the elevator, you're expected to put your hands up. If you try to push the elevator's button instead, the door will actually start closing. The Combine officer will then react by blocking the door and order you to stop pushing buttons. Continue trying to push the button after that, and the officer will eventually shoot it. Plus, if you try to walk out of the elevator, the officer will physically force you back.
    • When you're required to cover your mouth to protect from spores, you can cover your mouth preemptively and Alyx's dialogue is appropriately muffled when she speaks next.
    • Virtually every item in the world has some ability to interact with it, from shaking pill bottles and bleach containers with realistic sound effects to squeezing empty soap bottles (thanks to the controllers' pressure sensitivity) to a fully functional piano.
  • Diegetic Interface: The gravity gloves have their own built-in display that shows your health, ammo, and resin stores.
    • Weapons that are empty will glow strategically-placed red lights, and will blink red if you need to chamber a new round after reloading.
  • Distant Finale: The ending takes place during the changed ending of Half-Life 2: Episode Two, five years later.
  • The Dreaded: The Combine are apparently very well aware of the threat the G-Man poses to them, hence why they trapped him in the Vault. They are so utterly terrified of him that they are willing to summarily execute anybody who might have simply glimpsed the Vault much less know what's actually inside it.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: Downplayed. The amount of ammunition found is dynamically modified based on how much the player has; when a zone is loaded, if Alyx has a lot of ammo of a particular type, some ammo drops of that type will be removed before the player sees them. However, Combine weapons lockers always contain at least one item when the player unlocks them, and some ammo drops will always be there.
  • Eldritch Location: The Vault, or at least the apartment building contained within. Gravity Screw abounds in rooms that no longer spatially orient with each other, or are bizarrely mirrored, with the residents reduced to hazy, intangible silhouettes frozen wherever they were standing when whatever happened there went down.
  • Elite Mooks: The Combine troops have two kinds of heavily armored infantry: one with a shotgun and a power shield, and the suppressor, which carries a rapid-fire cannon. Both of them can take a beating if you're not going for headshots and carry weapons that will chew you up quickly.
    • Even the headcrabs have special types. Armored headcrabs have hard plating that require you to aim for their weak spot. Poison headcrabs mess up your vision and inject you with venom.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: Holy hell, does it. It essentially completely upends the ending of Episode Two. Eli is alive due to the G-Man interfering in exchange for Alyx becoming employed by him against her will, with Gordon being left behind. However, it isn't quite a downer ending. The final scene ends with Eli giving Gordon his crowbar, ready to find the G-Man and save Alyx, completely changing the course of the story for the Half-Life series going forward.
  • Enemy Chatter: Returning from Half-Life 2, Combine soldiers have a wide range of contextual radio chatter between each other and Overwatch for various combat situations, from standard “alerted” dialogue, to identifying different types of enemy, to being the only remaining soldier in the squad. They even weaponize it — if Alyx is behind cover, sometimes they try to lure her out by calling out her name in a friendly tone, or telling each other that Alyx is non-hostile and to cease fire. Of course, if you do come out, they just laugh at you and keep shooting.
  • Equipment Upgrade: Weapons can be upgraded with modifications via Combine Fabricators, which use resin that the player can find around the levels.
  • Everybody Lives: A heartbreaking example: Alyx saves Eli from his death in Episode Two, but is put into stasis by the G-Man in exchange.
  • Exploding Barrels: The good old red propane barrels return in this game, along with smaller gas canisters. Alyx can grab them, toss them and shoot at them to create a highly damaging explosion.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The majority of the game's events appear to take place over the course of 12 or so hours, as Alyx first sets out from her hideout in the early morning and reaches the Vault just after dusk.
  • Festering Fungus: Alyx travels through City 17's Quarantine Zone, where alien flora and notably fungus-like organisms have had time to grow, invading entire buildings. Some create explosive spores, others reject poisonous spores that Alyx must protect herself from, some even make noise when the player enters their proximity. The spore-spewers and Xen clams actually become a problem for Alyx when combined with having to deal with Jeff... Fortunately, there is also the "Xen ears", fungi in the environment that close when a noise has occured—they serve as an early warning for the player to move before Jeff, who also heard that noise, reaches them.
  • Firing One-Handed: Naturally, since it's a VR game. However, placing your hands closer together will have Alyx grip the weapon with her off-hand, giving more control when firing.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: Just before we take control of Gordon Freeman, as the Half-Life: Alyx logo fades away, only the "y"—which looks like a mirrored-upside-down lambda—is late to fade away as we hear the HEV suit giving the message "Warning: Vital Signs Critical - Seek Medical Attention".
    • Sharp-eyed players will recognize the G-man's distinctive silhouette before Alyx springs him out of the Vault.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Jeff. Jeff is a Combine worker who was exposed to so much alien Festering Fungus that he has mutated into a bestial and horrifying Mushroom Man. Jeff is effectively unkillable and can kill Alyx instantly. This forces her to work around him, sometimes coming mere inches from the monster so that she can navigate the distillery.
  • For Want of a Nail: The liberation of the G-Man allows the entirety of Half-Life 2 and its episodes to happen.
  • Forbidden Zone: The Vault is right in the middle of the Quarantine Zone, a large section of City 17 overtaken by Xen life and consequently walled off by the Combine. The place is absolutely littered with the corpses of Combine soldiers and work crews who got killed trying to clean up the infestation; evidently they finally decided to give up the ghost and just seal the whole place away, though Alyx interrupts one more operation in progress on her way to the Vault.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The Lone Vortigaunt makes a point about Eli being dead, or to be dead, from his perspective in the "is or will be" speech. The game also goes out of its way to emphasize how much of a freak-out Alyx has when it seems like Eli fell to his death right as she was supposed to rescue him even though it obviously can't happen that way. The ending makes it a plot point when G-Man offers to change the timeline and save Eli in exchange for service, exploiting Alyx's desperation to save him by any means necessary without a second thought.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The game's intro gives a short recap that references the collapse of the Citadel in Episode One and the death of Eli Vance in Episode Two, which seems odd for an Interquel that takes place five years before Half-Life 2. On top of that, Valve's David Speyrer specifically advised players to have played up to and including Half-Life 2: Episode Two before starting Alyx "for reasons that will become clear as you play". The end of the game features Alyx learning of, and subsequently undoing, Eli's death in Episode Two, which gets her in the G-Man's employ, cementing the game as a Stealth Sequel to Episode Two.
    • Russell refers to two occurences as "miracles": Eli and Alyx getting out of Black Mesa, and the Combine holding Gordon Freeman of all people within the Vault. The G-Man is the "miracle worker" behind both: Alyx being "plucked" from Black Mesa was previously revealed in Episide Two; and Gordon and the G-Man were both present at Black Mesa during the Incident, similar enough to each other for the unseen collaborator to refer to one and be mistaken as referring to the other. Finally, the G-Man facilitates one more "miracle": younger-Alyx saving Eli Vance from his fate in Episode Two.
    • Early on, the Vortigaunt Alyx meets says "Alyx Vance alone cannot prevent [Eli's] fate." He's right. The two times Alyx tries to save her father, either someone else does it, or someone gives her the power to do it herself.
    • When Alyx disrupts and crashes the train to save Eli, the first things you see inside the train are dead Advisors, followed by failing to save Eli only for him to be rescued in a Big Damn Heroes by the Vortigaunt from earlier. All of this is relevant, if rearranged: as the G-Man briefly grants Alyx more Vortessence power to blast and kill the Advisor that kills Eli in Episode Two, essentially taking into her own hands what she couldn't before. The Advisor ends up burned and shriveled by the blast—a similar state to the Advisor corpses on the train.
    • After Alyx enters the Vault, the first human figure she sees is a man holding a briefcase.
  • Fully Absorbed Finale: The end of the game bypasses the events of the leaked Half-Life 2: Episode 3 plot to jump to the most important aspect of it: Alyx winding up in the employ of the G-Man.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Russell tries to come up with one for his gravity gloves, which ends up sounding less professional than he intended:
    • Really
    • Useful
    • Something
    • Something
    • Electronic
    • Lightweight
    • Levitating
    • S
  • Future Food Is Artificial: Combine food rations in this game include foil-wrapped "desiccated sustenance bars" (water-flavored, somehow) and boxes of "gelatinated calorie paste" (egg-flavored). Both are so heavily processed their packaging indicates they stay edible for over 25 years after opening.
  • Game Mod:
    • Alyx is the first official Half-Life title to come with Steam Workshop support, allowing players to download community-made campaigns, weapons, asset replacements, and more at the click of a button.
    • There is a work-in-progress total conversion that will allow players to play the game without VR.
  • Genius Ditz: Russell. He's certainly talented when it comes to hacking and engineering the gravity gloves. Just...don't trust him to give you an unloaded gun.
  • Gravity Screw: It gets weird inside the Vault. The player navigates rooms that are sideways, upside-down, and even mirrored, with objects floating around all the while.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The G-Man and his employers are revealed to be this. On one hand, they are definitely no friends of humans, as it is they who start the Resonance Cascade and indirectly lead to the Seven Hour War. In addition, they have a vested interest in keeping Earth under Combine control, at least for a while. On the other hand, they are no less hostile toward the Combine, and will eventually release Freeman to weaken their hold on Earth.
  • Grenade Launcher: Alyx can upgrade the shotgun with one. If Alyx invests enough resin into it, the shotgun will hold a grenade under the barrel and launch it on command.
  • The Ghost: Beside a few mentions in old newspapers, Wallace Breen is nowhere to be seen or heard from/about in the game.
    • Likewise, due to being locked in stasis, Gordon Freeman is absent from the game until the very end.
    • D0g only gets one mention from an upgrade blueprint and a Polaroid in Alyx's refuge; he himself never appears during the game's runtime. Like Gordon, he only appears in the finale.
    • Barney, Dr. Kleiner, and Dr. Magnusson are nowhere to be found in the game, even in the Distant Finale.
  • Ghost City: Downplayed, but one of City 17's district has been quarantined, in part due to a severe headcrab infestation. The abandonment also allowed other alien species to thrive there, such as the Reviver.
  • Hacking Minigame: Alyx can use her multitool to open lockers, activate Combine fabricators, and disarm tripmines, and the hacks are represented as VR minigames.
  • Hammerspace: The gravity gloves can each hold one item in a 'pocket' that seems like a pocket dimension. Items that can be placed in them include health syringes, grenades (Combine and Xen), antlion grub cylinders, and vodka bottles; the gnome specifically cannot. Alyx's backpack can carry 100 pistol magazines (1000 rounds), 33 submachine gun magazines (990 rounds), and an unknown number of shotgun shells, plus an unknown amount of resin.
  • Healing Shiv: Health stations refill health by stabbing Alyx's hand with an assortment of precision needles.
  • Hijacking Cthulhu: The Combine somehow managed to contain the G-Man of all people into a cell of a massive floating Vault.
  • Hope Spot: In "Jeff", there is a brief moment where you get to trap him inside a walk-in freezer, the relief of which lasts about two minutes before you realise that your next objective requires you to go inside that same freezer yourself. This forces the player to unlock the door and back away quickly as Jeff breaks out, rendering that door unusable.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Downplayed. Alyx has three one-handed weapons (a pistol, a sawed-off shotgun, and a submachine gun) and her multitool, and she can switch between them instantly.
  • Immune to Bullets:
    • Jeff, a mutant former Combine worker, is totally immune to any of the weapons Alyx has on hand - even grenades won't hurt him. To kill him, you need to lock him inside a trash compactor, then turn the machine on.
    • Taken up to eleven thanks to the Workshop Tools for Alyx allowing creators to put Jeff and the energy bolts from Point Extraction in the same space. Even that does nothing to him. Conversely, barnacles—which were in the "Jeff" level, but only in out-of-the-way alcoves—are perfectly capable of grabbing and killing Jeff.
  • Indy Ploy: While Russell and Alyx lay out a pretty meticulous plan to stop a Combine train, the last step is derailed as the control terminal they plan to use has a faulty lever. Alyx then has several seconds to think of an alternative way to stop the train. She pulls a railroad switch that deviates the train into a dead end, making it crash.
  • Interface Screw: The blue Antlions will spit blue ink at Alyx, covering the view in ink for several seconds.
    • Being shocked by a Reviver will cause not only the displays on your Russels to flicker but even the spectator HUD on the desktop will flicker as well.
    • The Heavy Combine Soldiers will deploy an energy shield that flashes upon deactivation, burning purple blotches into your vision for a few moments even if you weren't looking directly at it.
  • Instructive Level Design: As with most of Valve's games. The developer commentary goes into how carefully the levels were designed to give the player, for example, some time to practice firing and reloading the pistol in a no-threat environment before they had to use them against active threats.
  • Interface Spoiler: If you have subtitles turned on, attentive players may notice that the Northern Star is capitalized.
  • Interquel: Set sometime between the events of the original Half-Life and its sequel Half-Life 2. The bulk of it until the finale, at least.
  • Inventory Management Puzzle: You have your backpack and two wrist slots for storage, but your backpack only stores ammo. Medkit syringes, grenades, antlion grubs, and even random junk are either carried in the wrist slots or your hands, so carrying more than two things can require you to literally juggle items. And God help you if you're trying for the Gnome achievement, too...
  • Laser Sight: All three of Alyx's weapons can be upgraded to contain a laser sight that illuminates precisely where she's aiming. For the pistol and SMG, it is a precision dot that shows exactly where the bullet will land, while for the shotgun it illuminates a circle where the shell's spread will be confined to. The Grenade Launcher upgrade also features a laser sight, this time to show the grenade's arc.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: The game begins with a brief recap of the end of the Half-Life 2 trilogy, with the very first line referring to the collapse of the Citadel at the end of the main game and Eli's (original) death at the end of Episode Two.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: With dashes of Reality Subtext in regards to those who have followed the Half-Life series:
    • In exchange for "coming all this way", The G-Man offers Alyx something "you don't know you want": saving her father from his death five years into the future. This extends to the player being offered a new outlook on the future of the Half-Life series.
    • "A previous hire [Gordon] has been unable—or unwilling—to perform the tasks laid before him." The G-Man utters this with noticeable displeasure in response to Gordon generally acting on his own in the future—or, since Eli Vance's original death, having done nothing to further the G-Man's goals. This doubles as acknowledgement of the 13 years that Valve has gone without a new Half-Life game until Alyx—that is to say, "Until now."
  • Loading Screen: Half-Life: Alyx features a unique loading screen for its story maps: a 3D map of City 17 centered around the Vaultnote , which only the player can see. It shows the player's progress through the QZ and towards the Vault, with highlighted city blocks appearing to show where the player currently is. The map also appears between the player and the way forward, so players can orient themselves before actually progressing. Outside of that, such as starting the game up proper or loading a Workshop map, the loading screen lacks the 3D map.
  • Lost Common Knowledge: Russell has to explain what livestock is to Alyx before he can even describe what a club sandwich is to her. Understandable when the Combine has requisitioned pretty much all of Earth's resources, including most animals; and citizens have to get by with old bread, vegetable paste and the likes. Having grown up after the war, Alyx has never experienced the relative luxury of life on an untouched Earth. She also has no idea what vodka is, let alone why Russell would love it despite it being bad/"poison".
    • More subtly, during your introduction to Larry he makes a reference to Mozart and Alyx responds with "Who?", implying she hasn't heard of him.
    • Also when Alyx tells Russell to suggest a song she would play on a piano, Russel wryly says "Flight of the Bumblebee", but Alyx doesn't react to Russel's obvious jest at all, meaning she has never heard of the song or of how intricate it is.
  • MacGuffin: The reason that Eli is imprisoned during the first leg (sorry, Eli) of the game: during the reactor heist, his team caught wind of a "superweapon" locked away in the Vault, the massive floating structure that hangs over City 17's Quarantine Zone. Russell remarks that what he found was "blurry pictures of a building", yet that was all the reason the Combine needed to come after them in the first place. As the game goes on, Eli makes discovery after discovery about it based on data he stole during his imprisonment. It turns out that the Combine found this "weapon", and were so scared of it that they lifted the city block (the subject of the aforementioned pictures) around it and built the Vault—in reality a prison—around that. An offhand anecdote from another character leads them to believe that the Vault's prisoner is Gordon Freeman himself, spurring the efforts to free him... By the time Eli realizes what's really going on and tries to stop his daughter from entering the Vault, it's too late—Alyx is set to free the G-Man, who scoffs that the Combine wouldn't need that much security to hold Gordon Freeman.
  • Mission Control: Russell acts as Alyx's copilot, guiding her through the mission from the safety of his hideout.
  • Monster Organ Trafficking: There's a sizable Antlion nest in the Quarantine Zone that the Combine appear to tolerate, because they regularly harvest Antlions for resources: their health station use fluid from fresh-crushed grubs, and the adults are milked for some kind of acid used to treat the Meat Moss growing everywhere else.
  • More Dakka: Downplayed due to the relative scarcity of ammunition, but every weapon has at least one upgrade focused on faster shooting and deeper magazines, allowing the player to shoot for longer without having to navigate reloading.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Gordon grabbing his crowbar shouldn't be anywhere as awesome as it is, but in the context of the scene and the franchise itself, the development team made it work.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Jeff brings to mind the Blast Pit level from the original Half-Life, where you are forced to navigate through a level, completing your goals, while being pursued/harassed by a nigh-invincible monster that cannot see you but does react to sound, and can only be killed in a unique manner.
    • As another callback to the original Half-Life, you can discover a Snark in Alyx's room, which she has been keeping as a pet. You can even feed it by shaking food into its jar.
    • A recurring floppy disk you can find contains a number of games titled "Prax Wars", including "Prax Wars 2: Dante's Revenge". The Prax Wars 2 game was an arcade machine the security guards play in the opening area of Half-Life: Blue Shift, and the arcade machine itself in that game was a reference to a cancelled game a number of Gearbox employees worked on prior to doing Blue Shift.
    • Giving the pistol certain upgrades (namely the laser sight and burst fire mods) makes it strongly resemble Alyx's gun from Half-Life 2. If you get all the upgrades, she makes a comment about how the gun feels like it's now truly hers.
    • The Lone Vortigaunt you encounter in "Quarantine Zone" is living a solitary life and is cooking Headcrabs for food while giving Alyx cryptic messages relating to her past and future, very similar to the All-Knowing Vortigaunt from Half-Life 2. It is possible that they might even be the same Vortigaunt, though unlikely given that being "all-knowing" and "severed from the Vortessence by the Combine" are incompatible.
    • A second Vortigaunt encountered later says "There is no distance between us. We are coterminous," which is a combination and reshuffling of two of the All-Knowing Vortigaunt's lines.
    • Minor one for 2: when Alyx reroutes the train into a dead end, the ensuing destruction sends a large smokestack crashing to the ground below. A similar falling smokestack would impede Gordon's journey to Black Mesa East on his hovercraft.
    • The Citadel sequences from Half-Life 2 and Episode One is echoed in the Vault, with Alyx losing all of her gear save the gravity gloves—which become instrumental in her mowing through the Combine guards. Instead of supercharging the Russels, they harness the remaining Vortal energy within the Vault to One-Hit Kill the guards.
    • The Vortigaunts' power being harnessed by the Combine and used to contain the G-Man makes a lot of sense as a callback to the Episodes, where they were able to restrain him and free Gordon from his control.
    • The G-Man's face briefly resembles that of his Half-Life 2 character model in the ending, due to the lighting effects.
    • What do you think happened to the Russells after Alyx? Well, they were repurposed into D0G's gravity hands.
    • The Russells seem to be a refitted version of the Gravity Gloves, a weapon that was Dummied Out of Half-Life 2: Survivor, a Japan-only arcade game.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • None of Eli's lines from the trailer make it into the game, all taken from previous versions of the game's story. The second line he speaks in the trailer is a re-recording of Eli's last words from Episode Two with the new voice actor, a sneaky way of indicating this game ties into that game's ending.
    • Russell does say the oft-quoted "I'm with you every step of the way" line from the trailer, but notably does so from his seat rather than standing in front of a wall. Many of his other lines from the trailer are technically in game, but said with a very different tone and context.
    • This even extends to the gameplay trailers, replacing a spoilery line with non-descript dialogue from elsewhere in the game and adding extra chatter between Alyx and Russell from various parts of the game to more accurately describe their dynamic. Two of the maps shown are even altered significantly from the way they appear in the game.
  • New Weapon Target Range: Any time you get a new item, it's generally immediately followed by an area where it's exactly the right tool for the job. The grenades are perhaps the most extreme version of this, with several spots where you can toss a grenade to take out barnacles and zombies, but every weapon has it to an extent.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: If not for that scientist who was arguing with the Combine Advisor, Alyx and company would not have learned all they (assumed they) needed to act on freeing the Vault's prisoner. Perhaps specifying which Black Mesa survivor she was refering to would have changed matters…
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: After saving the G-Man from imprisonment, Alyx is rewarded with the life of her father... and promptly imprisoned by the very same entity she saved. Given the G-man's track record and the distaste he has grown to have for Freeman, whatever he's planning can't be good.
  • Notice This:
    • Objects Alyx needs to interact with to continue through the level are usually bright red, while other red scenery and Chiaroscuro lighting often serve to guide her through the levels themselves.
    • When Alyx tethers to an object that can be grabbed with the Gravity Gloves, they let off an orange glow and quiet electronic hum.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: After you take down a power station and free the Vortigaunt inside, he promises to destroy all the remaining ones in her stead. You get to see the other power stations violently going down as you make your way closer to the Vault.
  • Oh, Crap!: The two CP officers are transporting Alyx via prisoner van when they see Russell's Scanner suddenly in the way. The machine crashes into their windshield and it drops a live grenade under the seat, and you get watch the pair descend into blind panic as they try to get rid of the explosive, to no avail.
    CP #2: Get it!
    CP #1: I don't see it!
    CP #2: It's under the seat!
    CP #1: I'm looking, I'm looking!
    CP #2: Get it, get it, get it!
    CP #1: I got it!
    CP #2: Throw it, throw it —
    CP #1: I'm throwing it n
  • One Bullet Clips: Unlike in the main series, this is averted for the pistol and the sub-machine gun.
    • Pistol: You cannot store magazines that are half-empty, so changing magazines will force you to drop the ejected magazine, and with it any rounds left in it. The game does simulate a round being in the chamber however, so you will get an extra round in your weapon if you reload with rounds remaining or reload once the magazine itself is empty. There's even a distinct sound when the magazine itself is empty and the chamber light turns yellow in this case.
    • SMG: The pulse plug is automatically ejected from the weapon when it's depleted. There's is no manual release available.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Eli finds that the Vault's security is so unlike anything he's seen before, even for the Combine. Especially as a means of containing Gordon Freeman. As Alyx is entering the Vault, Eli realizes that the Combine — to quote the Vault's real prisoner, the G-Man — "wouldn't need all that to imprison Gordon Freeman", and desperately tries to tell Alyx not to enter the Vault.
    • In The Stinger, after the G-Man has taken Alyx, we see Eli cursing and saying he's going to kill the G-Man, a stark contrast to his usual self. Given who's been taken away from him, it's no surprise in context.
  • Paper Tiger: A quite literal version. One sequence in the Zoo chapter features a tiger that'll roar at Alyx... only for the tiger to be revealed as a cardboard cutout when it's bumped aside by the real source of the roar, a lowly Headcrab zombie.
  • Personal Space Invader: The headcrabs are back to try to latch onto the player's face, and they actually will latch on to the player's face if they don't kill the damned cranial parasites fast enough first.
  • Police Brutality: The Combine Civil Protection Officers, as usual. They gratuitously taze the elderly Eli Vance, then knock out his daughter Alyx for merely being in the vicinity, regardless of her involvement with the resistance.
  • Prison Ship: The Vault is this in a nutshell. It may also very well be The Alcatraz, seeing as how its purpose is to seemingly keep the G-Man locked inside.
  • Promoted to Playable: Alyx Vance, Gordon Freeman's companion from Half-Life 2, is the main protagonist this time around.
  • Protagonist Title: Half-Life: Alyx. Developer commentary states that this was the most overt way of making clear to the player that they would not be playing as the silent Gordon Freeman for this game.
  • Pun:
    • The achievement "Near-Jeff Experience" involves staying close to Jeff for 10 seconds (but not too close).
    • "Sea Level" is unlocked by reaching the marine exhibits in the zoo chapter.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: At one point, Russell tosses Alyx a pistol that he claims is unloaded (from a two-story building, no less). It discharges after landing on a car's hood, strongly suggesting that he didn't check if there was a round in the chamber. Either way, he was very lucky that Alyx (or himself) wasn't killed.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: The game reuses some of the songs from the very first game, namely "Space Ocean", "Steam in the Pipes" and "Cavern Ambience", all renamed as "Tri-Vector Pre-Reverberation", "Processing Tripmines" and "Infestation Ambience", respectively.
  • Red Herring: When Eli and Russell first learn of the Vault, they assume the Combine want something out of it, only to later learn that it's actually a prison. As Alyx gets closer to the Vault, she happens to overhear a conversation between an unidentified human collaborator and an Combine Advisor regarding the Vault's contents, affirming that contained in the Vault is a "superweapon" in the form of a person - more specifically, someone who caused untold mayhem at Black Mesa before vanishing into thin air. This leads Eli and Russell to believe that the prisoner inside the Vault is Gordon Freeman. When Alyx does reach the Vault, the person she rescues isn't Gordon; it's the G-Man, the only other person to fit that description, being the one who orchestrated the resonance cascade in the first place.
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: When first learning of the Vault, Eli theorizes the Combine are trying to move a powerful artifact or weapon offworld. As he soon discovers, the Combine aren't holding a weapon they made—they're moving a prisoner that they're scared of.
  • Room Full of Crazy: The outdoor entrance to the Lone Vortigaunt's lair has a shrine with lots of mysterious drawings on the walls depicting events from the Half-Life timeline, such as Black Mesa, the Nihilanth enslaving the Vortigaunts, the Combine invasion of Earth (using human Combine soldiers as a visual shorthand), and details pertaining to Black Mesa survivor Gordon Freeman.
  • Sealed Badass in a Can: The Resistance comes to believe the Vault is a prison to store Gordon Freeman. It's actually storing the G-Man.
  • Science Is Bad: The Combine's propaganda in this game takes this stance towards human-led scientific progress, in order to tap into fears stemming from the Black Mesa Incident. Several posters put up around City 17 bear the words "Human Science" underneath cherry-picked images of scientific atrocities, including a syringe pointed at a person's eye, a nuclear explosion, and a mouse with a human ear grafted to its back.
  • Sense-Impaired Monster: During Chapter 7, Alyx has to repeatedly avoid an unkillable zombie-like humanoid named Jeff that wanders through the narrow corridors. Jeff's skull is split open like a Venus flytrap, rendering him blind, so he navigates by sound, necessitating that Alyx quietly sneak around. This is more difficult than it sounds, both because empty glass bottles litter the halls, alerting Jeff if she bumps into them, and because Jeff emits clouds of spores which will cause Alyx to cough if she walks through them without a gas mask or covering her mouth, again alerting Jeff. However, Alyx can also distract Jeff by Throwing the Distraction, to lead him away from her momentarily.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The G-Man shows Alyx her dad's future fate from Episode Two's ending and allows her to change the future by killing the Advisor, saving Eli from his death.... but this has a cost, as Alyx is then put into stasis to replace Gordon as his primary "employee".
  • Sequel Hook: The game ends with the G-Man interfering with Eli's death in the future and saving him. However, Alyx is taken away to act as Gordon's replacement with whatever that entails. Gordon and Eli are then left in the aftermath of what has just happened, with Eli swearing revenge on the G-Man for taking Alyx away and getting his daughter back.
  • Schmuck Bait: The stages with Jeff have ammo and resin scattered around in easy reach. The problem is that trying to grab the goodies often results in noise (either bottles slipping free and breaking or those nasty snapping fungi), which will draw Jeff towards a careless player trying to stock up.
  • Shock and Awe: One of the new headcrab varieties encountered in the game, the Reviver (or "lightning dog", as Alyx dubs it), is able to create potent bolts of electricity. When they control a corpse, said zombie will also be electrified.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: Played very straight. Locks fall off after taking one hit from any of your weapons, and no shrapnel will be thrown off to hit (for example) an explosive barrel next to them.
  • Shoot the Fuel Tank: Several Combine soldiers carry a fuel tank on their back. Shooting said tank sets it on fire before exploding shortly after.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Alyx acquires a handgun-style shotgun in the early parts of the game. Munitions are more scarce than for the pistol, but it can one-shot just about anything with a well-placed headshot.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Closely inspecting one of the VHS tapes in Alyx's surveillance room at the start of the game shows she taped Combine movements over a VHS of, of all things, Dirty Dancing.
    • In the zoo, there's a piece of Bridges cargo.
  • Sighted Guns Are Low-Tech: Zig-zagged. On the one hand, your basic weapons have crude iron sights, even the futuristic Combine SMG. Upgrades for the Pistol and SMG involve a holographic reflex sight, which allows for enhanced aiming down the sights. However, the Shotgun's Laser Sight upgrade mounts on top of the weapon, making the original iron sights useless.
  • Sinister Subway: Alyx enters the Quarantine Zone through a sealed subway system and briefly passes through a subway station where several headcrab zombies are roaming.
  • Spear Carrier: Two of them. First is Olga, the woman who Alyx speaks to in Chapter 1 (and who only gets named in the credits), whose role is to show the player that Eli and Russell's theft of a Combine power generator didn't go as unnoticed as they thought, as well as to reinforce to the player that they are playing as Alyx Vance rather than Gordon Freeman. Second is Larry in Chapter 7, a scavenger in the Quarantine Zone who Alyx saves from a Barnacle and warns her about Jeff. Neither of them get mentioned again, though Larry does pop up at the end of Chapter 7 after you've dealt with Jeff. The collaborating scientist makes for three, as she disappears right after emphasizing to the Combine that they need to move the box.
  • Stealth-Based Mission: Much of the chapter "Jeff" plays out in this manner. Jeff will pursue any source of noise in the distillery, literally melting down anything he can get his "hands" on with acid, is Immune to Bullets, and totally blind. Alyx has to move very carefully and quietly, Throwing the Distraction to navigate around him and avoid attracting him to her position while she attempts to cross the facility.
  • Stealth Sequel: Though most of the game is indeed an Interquel, the very last segment of the game takes place during the events of Episode Two and shows what happened afterward...or more accurately, what has changed as a result of the events of Alyx.
  • Story Difficulty Setting: The Easier Than Easy type. Damage that Alyx takes is lowered, and enemies can take many fewer shots - typically one pistol shot will take out a headcrab, two for a zombie, three for a barnacle. Since the player needs fewer rounds to kill an enemy, and the Dynamic Difficulty doesn't remove as much ammunition (if any), the player tends to accumulate more ammunition as well, likely hitting the 1000-round cap for pistol and SMG.
  • Straight for the Commander: Killing the Ordinal of a Combine squad will render the remaining squad members disorganized and far less coordinated in their tactics.
  • Survival Horror: Gives off this vibe in the earliest levels. Chapter 7, "Jeff", stands out as a survival-horror level as your weapons are ineffective and your primary tactics will be to distract or hide from the titular monster.
    • In general, you have very little ammo compared to other games in the series and enemies take more damage than their equivalents from the past, really enforcing the ammo management and resource scrounging prevalent in Survival Horror games. Even an individual headcrab is a threat not to take lightly.
  • Tailor-Made Prison: The enormous floating Vault that you can see throughout the game? It's actually a prison. A prison for the G-Man. The Combine has deployed many precautions in order for the prisoner to stay confined, including siphoning the Vortessence of Vortigaunts, an on-board shield generator, an extra antigravity generator that will keep the ship floating just in case the main stations fail, and elaborate machinery to confine the G-Man within the boundaries of his cell.
  • Tempting Fate: In Chapter 10, Alyx stumbles upon a Strider, deactivated. Russell mentions how terrible it would have been if it was in Alyx's way. Alyx groans and tells Russell to not jinx her. Sure enough, the Strider reactivates and Alyx must fight it. Lampshaded by both Alyx and the game as a case of "Textbook Jinxing".
  • Theseus' Ship Paradox: Alyx Invokes this in her favor as regards the pistol Russel gave her if you upgrade it enough; upgrade it all the way and she declares Russel's gun to be gone, and the the pistol she's holding is her gun now. Russell concedes the point.
  • Throwing the Distraction: Jeff is blind, but is attracted to loud noises. Luckily there are scores of bottles scattered around the area, which Alyx can use to distract Jeff while she sneaks around.
  • Time Master: Although there are already hints of this, the true extent of G-Man's time power is only revealed now. He's shown to perceive time non-linearly, having already foreseen Eli's death years before it happens. Not only that, but he's also capable of reversing time itself, allowing Alyx to save Eli from his death during the ending of Episode Two.
  • Title Drop: Done for the third chapter, "Is Or Will Be".
    Lone Vortigaunt: You will not save [Eli]. He is dead.
    Alyx: What?!
    Lone Vortigaunt: Or he will be...
    Alyx: Is, or will be?
    Lone Vortigaunt: It is a matter of perspective.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: The G-Man in Alyx is a lot more cold-blooded and ruthless than before (or at least, less Ambiguously Evil). In this installment, the entire situation with "unforeseen consequences" and Eli's death was a ruse to trick younger Alyx into striking a deal with him in exchange for her "employment", all because he was getting tired of Gordon and wanted to replace him. To boot, he gives the impression that the opportunity to save Eli is a reward for freeing him, which makes the actual consequences come off as straight-up altering the deal. When Alyx retcons Eli's death by killing the Advisor, G-Man disparagingly refers to both Eli and the Advisor as "entities", before locking Alyx inside the stasis indefinitely. Also, it is implied that G-Man and his employers could chase the Combine off Earth or even destroy them entirely, but choose not to for their own reasons, meaning that every action taken by G-Man and his employers has been done purely out of self-interest.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The game's trailer featured the G-Man as its closing Wham Shot. In the game proper, the G-Man's presence is only vaguely implied until the ending.
  • Tricked-Out Gloves: The Russells, a pair of gravity gloves that allow Alyx to pull objects directly towards her. They act as the predecessor to the Gravity Gun, which has yet to be invented.
  • Tripod Terror: The Striders are back and they fire a hailstorm of bullets, like usual. Of course, Alyx fights one as a Boss Battle late in the game. There's also a new type of Strider that's modified for construction work.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay:
    • Alyx can take headcrab bites, zombie swipes, and even manhack cuts without too much injury as even the last type of damage has the manhacks glancing off instead of tearing deeper. Against the Combine wielding genuine ballistic and energy weaponry, however, she can die from just a handful of bullets thanks to wearing no body armor unlike the other series protagonists and being up against, well, bullets. Simultaneously, the Combine soldiers take more direct damage than she can thanks to having proper armor and gear, due in part to her weapons simply being less powerful and lower-caliber weapons that would realistically have poor armor penetrationnote ; the only advantage she has is the player's presumed pragmatism and improvisation in mounting an offensive, like how being a resistance fighter should work.
    • In this game, headcrabs are also given a dose of realism: their physiology is suited for leaping at its prey from great distances, but not so much for landing on their feet when they miss. As a result, any headcrab that finds itself pouncing at thin air will clumsily tumble across the surface upon landing, unlike in previous games, and can accidentally collide with walls and other objects too.
    • Although you can beat headcrabs to death with blunt objects, try to do the same to a Combine soldier and you'll find them shrug off your blows with barely a reaction. There just isn't much a 19 year old girl with a pipe can do to a soldier twice her size covered head-to-toe in padded body armor.
    • Speaking of headcrabs, the little critters are terrifying until you realize they're just tiny animals, and as such you can simply grab them in midair and just toss them out a window or into a trash can.
    • A retroactive one for the prior games: Gordon Freeman's model in the ending isn't entirely visible thanks to the angle and lighting, but between the massive gaping hole in his armor with a bloodied, bandaged wound inside, and The Stinger kicking off with Gordon waking up as the HEV Suit warns about his life signs being critical, Gordon's almost non-stop trucking through three game's worth of violence and carnage has left him in a rather nasty and brutalized state, likely only persisting thanks to health kits and morphine. Of course, this being Freeman, he's still ready to keep at it.
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: Taken up to eleven by having to ride in the elevator with Jeff himself. Too close for comfort, indeed.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Chapter 7, Jeff, handles significantly differently from the rest of the game—you're forced to navigate a Meat Moss infested building in order to reach a tunnel entrance while trying to avoid Jeff, a mutated human who is totally immune to every weapon you can use on him. You must balance reaching the tunnel entrance with using thrown objects (preferably glass bottles) to distract Jeff lest you be torn to pieces.
    • In chapter 11, the player suddenly has to run from a very angry Strider, and then use the only hand-operated turret weapon in the entire game against it. This is followed up in Chapter 12 by taking away all of the player's gear besides the gravity gloves, and forcing them to fight through Combine squads with latent vortessence powering the vault along the walls, literally fighting the Combine like a vortigaunt; healing also becomes incredibly limited to pre-prepared health chargers and any syringes the enemies drop, so the player has to power on through.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: Most Combine guns in Alyx cannot be used by the player. Justified by Russell noting that Combine weapons are "gene-coded" to their users, and almost all of them were already in the hands of Combine troops. The one Combine gun Alyx actually can use is still in its packaging and hasn't been coded when she finds it.
  • Urban Legends: In-Universe example regarding Gordon Freeman and his crowbar. According to Russell, "He fought his way out of Black Mesa with nothing but that crowbar!" Alyx finds that hard to believe.
  • Video Game Caring Potential:
    • You can feed Alyx's pet Snark, at it will leap up to the lid then drop back down in delight.
    • Xen Grenades can be acquired by picking them from the plants that they grow on, which react to external stimuli and will retract if you do not tear the grenade off the plant quickly enough. Alternatively, you can 'pet' the plant by stroking its belly, which will result in the plant allowing you to take the grenade without any resistance.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential:
    • Downplayed. At the very beginning, there's a cat asleep on a balcony one floor down. The player can toss something at it to wake it up and scare it away.
    • Alyx has the choice of pushing the button and crushing Jeff, or just leaving him trapped in the trash compactor. Achievement statistics show that about 2/3 of players push the button.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Russell.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Russell is last heard over the radio voicing alarm at Eli's Oh, Crap! regarding the Vault's occupant.
  • Wetware CPU: At one point, the interior of a Combine console can be seen and operated. It is revealed they run on bioprocessors appearing as mutated brains with living creatures fused to them, such as rats.
  • Wham Episode: For the entire future of the series; while the majority of the game serves as an Interquel, the finale suddenly leaps forward to the end of Episode Two, and through the help of the G-Man, everything goes Off the Rails from there on. The G-Man gives Alyx the opportunity to save Eli from the Advisor by killing it, but in so doing, drastically changes the timeline and the consequences of the deal are made known to her as Alyx is hired in place of Gordon, whom the G-Man has grown displeased with; he places her in stasis like he did with Gordon prior, removing her from the timeline altogether from that point forward. Gordon is now no longer employed by the G-Man and Eli, now alive to find his daughter missing, realizes what happened, swears revenge against the G-Man, and readies up with Gordon to stop both the G-Man and the Combine.
  • Wham Line:
    • "Revelations" drops a few that would undoubtedly get the player's attention:
      Unseen scientist: What in the history of today makes you think you're gonna stop her? Look, this guy we've got in there survived Black Mesa. He raised holy hell and then just disappeared! We've finally got him and you're just gonna let him go again? MOVE THE BOX.
      Russell: Survived Black Mesa...then disappeared... Eli! They do have a superweapon!
      Eli: Goddammit, Russ, they got Gordon Freeman!
    • The end of the last level has this from the G-Man:
      The G-Man: We are in the future. This is the moment where you watch your father die. ...unless... Unless you were willing to take matters into your own hands. Release your father, Ms. Vance.
    • A final one delivered by Eli after the credits.
  • Wham Shot: The majority of the game is about trying to rescue the prisoner contained aboard the giant ship, whom the Resistance believes to be Gordon Freeman. It's only as you approach the containment cell itself in the final level that the player gets a look at the person's silhouette...and realizes that it is definitely NOT Gordon. And worse, Alyx has no way of knowing until it's far too late.
  • The Worf Effect: At some point, the Combine manages to imprison the G-Man himself, a certified Time Master who can alter realities. This further reinforces the notion that the Resistance is only fighting a token force, and the full Combine army is much stronger than anyone could ever imagine. Assuming the G-Man didn't let himself be caught, of course.



Video Example(s):


The G-Man

At the end of announcement trailer, the G-Man shows up in the middle of nowhere while pulling a particularly nasty glare at the viewer.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / KubrickStare

Media sources: