Half-Life remains one of the best-loved and most-popular shooters in PC history. From the opening train ride into Black Mesa, to the mysterious appearances of G-Man, Surface Tension (ugh), and the final battle in Xen, after 25 years, you probably know every inch of Valve’s landmark FPS like the back of your HEV-suited hand. But, a quarter of a century on, there are still new ways to play Half-Life. Imagine the entire game but in reverse, a flipped-on-its-head story about Gordon Freeman trying to escape Black Mesa by fighting from the Lambda complex back to the safety of the tram. Tweaked, rebuilt, and reimagined, this is Half-Life, but backwards.
Created by visionary modder ‘Lymphoid,’ ‘Back-Life’ turns Half-Life back to front and tweaks the entire game so that it can all be played in reverse. We skip Xen, one of the most divisive sections in all FPS games, and go straight to the portal in the Lambda core. From there, we battle across the surface, run across the conveyors in the processing plant, hop on a rail, go backwards through the office complex, and arrive at the anomalous materials division just in time to undo the resonance cascade and take the tram back home.
Of course, it wouldn’t quite work without some significant changes. Lymphoid has transformed and rebalanced Half-Life so that the entire game functions perfectly in reverse. There are a couple of moments that will make you scratch your head, especially when you’re so familiar with Valve’s iconic level layouts, but the entire experience is incredibly smooth.
I especially like how Lymphoid has changed the mission names to reflect their changes – with the resonance cascade undone, and everyone just walking calmly around the labs, ‘Anomalous Materials’ becomes ‘Standard Analysis.’ You can watch Lymphoid play all of Back-Life below.
So, 25 years on, there are still new ways to enjoy Valve’s classic – you can try Back-Life right here. And that’s not all. Ahead of Half-Life’s silver anniversary, the original version of the game has been mysteriously updated on Steam. Perhaps something special is in the works.
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