Episode 3 and Half-Life 3 are not the only mystery Half-Life projects that have been lost to time. After the release of Episode 2, Valve was working with Arkane Studios – the dev behind titles ranging from Dark Messiah of Might and Magic to Dishonored – on a fourth episodic Half-Life 2 expansion, titled Return to Ravenholm. Today, in 2020, we finally have gameplay footage of that cancelled release.
The footage comes courtesy of documentary series NoClip, which will run a full program on the history of Arkane next week. NoClip has been promoting the release with a series of clips and images from games that will be covered – today, that’s Half-Life 2: Episode 4. The brief clip shows a player standing off with a zombie, which rips a door off its hinges before being dispatched by a pistol melee attack.
It’s clearly a Source Engine game built on Half-Life 2, though the traditional zombie enemy, its interaction with the door, and the melee attack are all new additions over the previous expansions.
Check out the brief footage below – the first image appears to be from LMNO, a cancelled collaboration with Steven Spielberg, so it looks like plenty of Arkane mysteries are soon to be solved.
— Noclip (@noclipvideo) May 21, 2020
Former Valve Writer Marc Laidlaw confirmed years ago that Valve was working with Arkane on a project called Return to Ravenholm – which had previously surfaced under the ‘Episode 4’ banner on the resumes of Arkane employees. Laidlaw told Half-Life fansite LambdaGeneration that the project was eventually abandoned because the setting was “pretty much played out”, and the necessity of using a prequel to return to Ravenholm had proved too much of a “creative constraint”.
We’re likely to hear more on what Return to Ravenholm would’ve looked like when the NoClip documentary premieres next week.