The opening section of Half-Life is iconic. In 1998, ‘Anomalous Materials’ revolutionized shooter design and narrative delivery in action games by impressing story rather than instant spectacle. You don’t just spawn in, grab a gun, and start blasting – the tram ride introduces you to Black Mesa, and the opening walk through the lab gives you a concrete sense of your character, your companions, and why you’re doing what you’re doing. Smart and original, Half-Life’s first level is one of the best, early examples of Valve’s approach to writing. But I want you to imagine an alternate universe where that never happened, where instead of narrative and characterization, Valve’s focus was on guns, kill streaks, and Gordon Freeman shouting “I have the power!” This is Half-Life by way of Doom Eternal. Welcome to Blood Mesa, the ultimate boomer shooter homage.
The tram arrives. Everything looks normal. But then you see that Gordon Freeman has his fists clenched, and there’s a huge glowing power orb waiting by the door. Created by developer ‘Trunka’ as a mod for the superlative FPS game Devilated, Blood Mesa remakes the entire opening section of Half-Life into a lightning-paced, blood-fueled, kill-chain frenzy.
Have you ever felt bored wandering those long, Black Mesa corridors? Ever wanted to blow up the scientist’s microwave casserole, then grab him by the neck, and throw him in the garbage can? Blood Mesa is what happens when Gordon Freeman gets sick of people telling him he’s late for work. Just watch.
Blood Mesa takes the architecture, characters, and enemies from Half-Life’s first level and drops them into Devilated. Dual wielding, power ups, style rewards – I like to imagine there’s been some kind of mix up, and while Gordon Freeman is roaming the halls of the UAC base on Phobos, Doomguy has been sent to Black Mesa.
If you want to play Blood Mesa, you can get Devilated on Steam right now for 20% off, then download the mod for free on the Workshop. Come on. It’s been 25 years of “they’re waiting for you Gordon, in the test chamber.” Time for some payback.