Half-Life 2’s Ravenholm is one of the most memorable locations in Valve’s masterful FPS sequel. The zombie-ridden mining town, watched over by the charismatic yet enigmatic Father Grigori, could easily be the setting of an entire game—and almost was—had Arkane Studios’ ambitious plans for its own Half-Life 2 episode bore fruit.
As it is, we’ve been stuck with the fleeting handful of levels in the original game for almost two decades. We Don’t Go to Ravenholm aims to change that. A mod for Half-Life 2: Episode 2, We Don’t Go to Ravenholm aims to evoke “the familiar feel, atmosphere and action of the original Ravenholm from Half-Life 2” in the words of the mod’s creator, 3stripedkilla.
In development for well over a year, 3stripedkilla recently released a demo of the mod onto ModDB. I gave it a quick whirl, and it does an impressive job of replicating the sense of dread and decay evident in Valve’s own work. You play as Gordon Freeman, returned to Ravenholm by the G-Man for typically inscrutable reasons, and must work your way across the blighted town to the docks where you can make your escape.
The demo sees you navigating an area of Ravenholm known as “Traptown”, which certainly lives up to its name. Alongside hordes of zombies, you’ll also need to avoid a network of creative Grigori-style traps, such as electrified grids, scrap-metal deadfalls, and whirling flame contraptions. Both the architecture and atmosphere of the mod feel authentic to Valve’s original vision, while careful enemy placement results in plenty of unpleasant surprises, such as being ambushed in a tiny shack by one of Ravenholm’s “fat” zombies.
One big change the mod makes over Half-Life 2 is that you don’t start out in Ravenholm with the Gravity Gun. In the original game, Ravenholm was as much a place to experiment with this new gadget as it was a survival horror experience. By comparison, the opening chapter of We Don’t Go to Ravenholm limits you to a pistol and a submachine gun. These do the job well enough, but they lack the creative potential of the sequel’s most unusual weapon.
Perhaps we’ll see the Gravity Gun in later chapters, but even without it, We Don’t Go To Ravenholm is well worth a look if you’re feeling starved of official Half-Life adventures. You can download the mod here. Note that it’s specifically a mod for Half-Life 2: Episode 2, so you’ll need that downloaded as well to play it.
We Don’t Go To Ravenholm isn’t the only Half-Life mod currently shaping up to be interesting. Another ongoing project is 'demaking' Half-Life remake Black Mesa in the original Half-Life engine, in a sort of bizarre modding ouroboros. Meanwhile, if you’ve got a VR headset, you should check out the mightily impressive Levitation, a mod for Half-Life: Alyx which is due to release later this year.