This is the longest look yet at the canceled Half-Life 2 spin-off from Arkane and Valve.
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Back in 2006 and 2007, Arkane Studios (Dishonored, Prey) was working on a Half-Life 2 spinoff title called Return to Ravenholm (or simply Ravenholm). Development on the game began at Junction Point Studios between 2005 and 2007 with a team led by Warren Spector. The idea was to create a spin-off episode that would explain the backstory of the trap filled Ravenholm and Father Grigori.

The project was cancelled for a time and then later given to Arkane Studios. Their idea was to create a spin-off title set in Ravenholm. Unfortunately for fans, the project was again cancelled by Valve after roughly "9 or 10" levels were completed. It was going to be a linear experience starring Adrian Shepard, the protagonist from Half-Life: Opposing Force.

We really did not see or hear much about Ravenholm during that span of time that it was in various stages of development from 2005 through 2007.

Today, here in the year 2022, we are finally getting a detailed look at what could have been. Game documentary channel Noclip, led by Danny O'Dwyer, put together an hour-long look at Ravenholm, one of the many lost Half-Life projects. What you are about to see is almost entirely pure, unedited gameplay footage that has never been seen before.

The footage seen in the video shows that Shepard awakes in an abandoned hospital. Father Grigori helps guide Shepard along the way but soon the building is overrun by zombies. O'Dwyer provides some commentary about the gameplay in between gameplay footage while also contextualizing the development process, game environments, and characters.

What we see is that the game still looks to be largely playable but is obviously far from finished. There are obvious placeholder models and textures everywhere, including the fact that some zombies were literally wearing shirts that had the words "I'm a placeholder" on them.

At the time, not much was said about why the game was cancelled in the first place. We have at least come to learn from former Valve writer Marc Laidlaw that the studio simply felt that headcrabs and zombies "were pretty much played out at the time." Laidlaw also noted that as Ravenholm needed to take place prior to Half-Life 2: Episode Two, it was going to be too creatively constraining.

Some of the footage seen in today's video was first shared in 2020 when Noclip gave us The Untold History of Arkane.

After Ravenholm was canceled, Arkane went on to begin developing 2009's The Crossing, another Source Engine powered title. That game was also sadly canceled. Arkane later went on to create the Dishonored series, the Prey reboot, Deathloop, and are currently working on Redfall.