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July 19th, 2022: Steam VR Fest, Half-Life Alyx Review

Welcome back to today's post! Today we are continuing our review of the Steam VR Fest sale that is happening right now by taking a look at Half-Life Alyx and giving you all a detailed review of our experience playing it. The game was published in 2020 by Valve and is one of the few AAA studio made titles on the market right now. Set between Half-Life 1 and Half-Life 2, there is a bit of a story gap missing for those that haven't played the classic games on PC so many years ago. While there is a gap, it won't be noticeable for those that are here to have fun as the story holds you regardless of how much back story you know about the world.

As a first person shooter experience you can expect several different weapons, locomotion, exploration, combat, puzzles, and even some survival horror aspects thrown in (resource management). While the loading times can be a bit long, the levels themselves are beautifully crafted and make you want to soak up every minute before you are forced to sit through another load screen while the next level loads.

So what is it about the game that they got so right everyone tells you to try the game? Well, as I mentioned the game itself is a first person shooter, but it added a lot of new VR game mechanics that hadn't been seen in other titles before. For instance, players use a force-pull mechanic to grab items throughout the game, essentially using 'gravity gloves' to snatch objects from a distance (similar to the gravity gun from Half-Life 2). As the physics system seems true for most objects, you will have fun picking up the wide array of items scattered throughout the game to see how it interacts with your gravity gloves.

The voice acting and level design are again points that bring the application to the top spot on our list of recommendations. As mentioned, the load times can be horrendous depending on your hardware, but boy do you spend a lot of time just soaking up the scenery in some of the levels. The character models are truly hand-crafted (just wait until you get up close to one of the aliens).

So what aspects of the game have we recreated and used inside of our own applications? We've already mentioned the force-pull mechanism, so let's talk about the UI menu's a little bit. One neat aspect of HLA is their choice of how you switch weapons and items, the games HUD and Item UI. This is accomplished by pushing in your joystick and physically moving your control in the direction of the item you want. Really a neat and intuitive mechanism that we at D3D have expanded on in our own applications.

There are a lot of other great things about this game, so we really recommend picking up a copy today and checking it out. If you want to push the boundaries of your extended reality devices this is one virtual reality application that can do that!

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