Half-Life is a twin-stick roguelike in this Valve-approved mod, and you can try it now

An image of Gordon Freeman from Half-Life, dressed in an orange HEV hazmat suit and wielding a shotgun. He is standing in front of a blurred, industrial background.
(Image credit: PinkyDev / Valve)

Half-Life has a long-lasting and healthy modding community, enjoying countless fan-made campaigns and even a complete remake—2020's Black Mesa—which originally started out as a passion project in 2004. 

Next to reinvent the low-poly wheel is Codename: Loop, a roguelike remix of Valve's 1998 classic. Developed by Daniel Almenara (Pinky_GameDev on Twitter), the game promises to take you through an "ever-changing loop" of Black Mesa, complete with new enemies and weapons.

The gameplay I've seen so far seems promising, with a fully-functional weapon select wheel and dopamine-inducing damage numbers, both of which I have a weakness for.

The Into-the-Gungeon style reimagining has a few key quality-of-life features to bridge the awkward gap between third person shooter and twin-stick gameplay: the UI keeps your focus on the middle of the screen with additional health and armour bars, while Left 4 Dead-style outlines make sure you don't lose track of Gordon or your enemies.

It is bare-bones right now, but I'm keen to see just how far Almenara will push the upgradable parts of Gordon Freeman's arsenal. While I'm hoping for a boomerang crowbar or dual-wielded shotguns, I've not seen much of the usual branching upgrades and randomised abilities that make roguelikes so replayable.

I'm excited at the prospect of bounding around Black Mesa in my HEV suit for a hundred or so runs, but that version of the game isn't available just yet. The playable demo offers a romp through the original game's "Questionable Ethics" level, a proof-of-concept for running and gunning rather than the promised roguelike loop.

Codename: Loop will also be coming to Steam, as announced by Almenara on Twitter in October 2022, "A few months ago I asked Valve for permission to publish my Half-Life fan game on Steam and... guess what? Codename: Loop is coming to Steam."

The indie dev is also working on an original title as part of Almenara Games: Rogue Mansion is a PS1-era survival horror roguelike that carries a strong echo from the early days of Resident Evil, with a kickstarter slated for June 2023. If you want to recapture those halcyon days of tank controls and wobbly pixelated models, you can find out more on their Twitter.

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.