Mere minutes into Half-Life: Alyx, I encountered a Strider. These behemoths cast ominous shadows on all who dare pass beneath them, their spindly legs and jagged haunches forming a silhouette of sheer threat. I gazed up at the Strider in awe. I could practically feel the wind buffet my face as it lumbered past the balcony I stood on. Then I raised both my hands high and flipped it off.
In Half-Life: Alyx, you’re not series hero Gordon Freeman. You are Alyx Vance, Gordon’s BFF and fellow resistance member, undertaking a mission to rescue her father just prior to her first meeting with Gordon. Before long, however, Alyx and her compatriots learn of the existence of a Combine super weapon and endeavor to destroy it or claim it for humanity.
You’re Alyx, but you’re also you: Alyx is a game that can only be played in VR, which turns it into a distinctly more personal experience than Half-Life, Half-Life 2, or their episodic sequels. Want to defiantly flip off a Strider? Go for it. Want to pick up a zombie corpse and slap its face around like it’s the third (and worst) Stooge? Sure, knock yourself out. Want to try to do the same thing to a headcrab, only for it to leap out of your hands and onto your face? It’s your funeral. That’s what makes it special. You can be silly. You can be expressive and dramatic. You can pick up every last object you find in the game world, gently examine it, and then hurl it into an abyss. You can embody Alyx however you choose.