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Friday, April 12, 2024

Half-Life Decay: Solo Mission restores the series’ forgotten campaign, with a twist

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Half-Life Decay: Solo Mission is a mod project endeavoring to make one of Half-Life’s least accessible campaigns more easily playable. No, not Half-Life Alyx. The other least accessible Half-Life campaign.

Half-Life Decay was a co-op campaign developed by Gearbox and included with the Playstation 2 port of the original Half-Life. In Decay, players take control of Black Mesa scientists Gina Cross and Collette Green, and experience another perspective of the Black Mesa incident in parallel to the stories of Gordon, Adrian, and Barney.

Modders got around Decay’s Sony exclusivity all the way back in 2008, but it remains a co-op campaign requiring two players playing over the internet or LAN. Team Solo’s goal with Solo Mission is to rebalance and remaster Decay with as light a touch as possible for, well, solo play. Solo’s project also stands in contrast to the mod, Peer Review, that PC Gamer has reported on in the past. Solo Mission is an almost preservationist project to bring a cleaned-up Decay to a wider audience, while Peer Review is a Black Mesa-style full remake of the campaign on the Source engine.

Removing the co-op from a co-op centric experience might sound antithetical, but in the project’s FAQ Solo argues “I’ve had a close look at every puzzle in Decay, and I believe that every one of them can be easily converted to work with a single player without losing any of Decay’s plot or gameplay. If anything, being made into a single player experience will allow the player to experience more of the game than they would if they were playing the original co-op version.” 

With that in mind, this could be a “so crazy it works” idea as good as a Nintendo 3DS without stereoscopic 3D, or a Nintendo Switch without the ability to “switch.” Of the two doctors featured in the original Half-Life decay, Floyd has chosen to focus on Cross and leave Greene by the wayside, given repeated references to Cross in other Half-Life stories.

What we’re left with is new old stock Half-Life, a campaign by the makers of Opposing Force and Blue Shift that most fans of the series probably haven’t tried, cleaned up and presented by an industry professional. Half Life Decay: Solo Mission remains in-development, but you can track its progress via Steam, ModDB, or Twitter, download its demo here, and check out some comparison images below. 

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