I'm sure we all get that urge to replay Half-Life every now and then. But who even has the time to wander aimlessly through Black Mesa's subterranean labyrinth these days? Thankfully, modder MrFloyd has compressed Gordon Freeman's bloody journey into a single level, as part of collaborative Half-Life mod TWHL Tower 2.
Following its 2016 predecessor, TWHL Tower 2 tasks you with working your way through an awfully strange tower block. Each floor is its own bespoke level created by a member of the Half-Life mapping community, resetting your health and weapons each floor to give you a fresh start on each map.
It's well worth checking out on its own, but the real highlight is Floor 18's Half-Pint— which sees MrFloyd attempt to cram the entire Half-Life 1 experience into the floor space of an office block.
Honestly, it's adorable. The Resonance Cascade chamber is just a dangerous closet within a lobby that's already looking a little cramped. The complex is fully represented, from the first guard to the final teleporter to Xen. While Black Mesa's developers wracked their heads over how to remake that infamous tram bit, it looks like MrFloyd's come up with a solution that should please everyone.
Half-Life fans when you ask them how they'd 'fix' On A Rail pic.twitter.com/4lITT9XkzMNovember 12, 2020
Half-Pint does find ways to be challenging—setting up simple escape-room puzzles and claustrophobic ambushes. But more than a game, the level is a fascinating breakdown of Half-Life's sprawling journey. Each chapter gets a room, maybe two, to capture its essence, with a few vents thrown in for good measure.
Except Xen. Floyd couldn't be bothered with Xen. The notorious border world only gets a little post-it note saying as much in the level's final room, a gallery marking every step on Gordon Freeman's journey. It was your journey, too— you were still climbing out of trash compactors, shotgunning soldiers, and thwacking things with a crowbar. It's just that it all took place in the space of a few square feet.
That it's only one of TWHL Tower 2's many floors is all the better, and I shan't spoil what the other levels have in store. The mod can be downloaded for free over on its ModDB page.