No game named “Half-Life” is more out of touch with Valve’s beloved series than “Half-Life: Decay”, which was developed by Gearbox in 2001. Forgotten cooperation PS2 expansion pack. After “Half-Life 2” and “Alyx”, it was very harsh to play today, Decay doesn’t feel like what we expect from the “Half-Life” game. Now 20 years old, Decay is almost as forgotten as “Half-Life”, but it still has a group of enthusiastic fans who believe its quirks are proof of the experimental history of “Half-Life”. Over the years, many fans have tried to revive it in the Source engine. So far, every project has failed, but a new remake called Peer Review may succeed.
“Decay’s idea of a remake became a kind of sarcasm,” said peer-reviewed level designer Ryan Lam. “If you want to remake “Decay,” no one will take you seriously.”
This reputation did not stop Lam and three other modders from accepting this idea. Peer review actually started as early as 2014, when they and other module makers were working on adapting a half-life course called Black Mesa Hazard Course. During the development of Hazard Course, part of the team separated and an initial version was created for peer review. “Our record of it goes back to 2014,” Ryan Lam said. “I don’t think any of us remember who was the first person to think of doing a rotten remake.”
However, for fans of “Half-Life”, this is a natural instinct-waiting for “Half-Life: Alex” is too long. At this point, almost everything in the series is It was remade by the community. Black Mesa is the most famous, and separate remakes of Gearbox extensions Blue Shift and Opposing Force are also in development.
When they resolve the Decay problem, the peer review team wants to ensure that public opinion does not get them into trouble. They keep development quiet until a playable build is available. “This is top secret. Everyone either wants to know what we are doing or just forgets our existence,” Lin said.
One of the biggest obstacles to reinventing Decay is its unique design: it remains the only cooperative Half-Life game to date. The Decay event allows you and a friend to play the roles of Gina Cross and Colette Green. They are the famous Black Mesa physicists who are responsible for transporting Xen crystals to the anti-mass spectrometer. Gordon Freeman initiated the catastrophic event here, thus starting the series.
“We want to make something that plays well and use the cooperative mode as much as possible, but still feels like Half-Life, so we eventually need to conduct a lot of game experiments,” Ryan said.
Artist Notewell Lyons stated that the team tried to keep “the overall purpose and atmosphere reminiscent of the original work,” but they redesigned some map settings and changed parts of the story in meaningful places.
The animator Michael Tannock took a more pure approach: “I want to keep as much of the original as possible, while improving and adding to it,” he said.
The developers call their team PSR Digital, and they think Peer Review is more like a reimagining of “Half-Life Decline” rather than a re-production. Changes have been made to better suit the co-op and fix plot holes or inconsistencies with Valve’s “Half-Life” game. “The original version only had an M4 as its automatic weapon; we kept the M4, but rebalanced it to fill a different position, and added an MP5 to fill the role of the old M4. We think this will be a controversial change. But we have agreed that this is a good one,” Lin explained.
Peer Review debuted in December 2018 and showed a 10-minute gameplay. Senior developer Chris Bryant said the reception was broadly positive. “For me personally, this is a very important point of pride. We realize that we have successfully overcome the curse of the decaying renovation project,” he continued. “We are proud that we often see the effect of’Wow, finally there is a good decay!’.”
However, cracking the curse increases the stakes. Bryant said: “Knowing that we are ready to try, there will definitely be some additional pressure.”
Crowbar Collective’s Black Mesa is both a great inspiration for PSR and a daunting quality standard. “I still sometimes see people saying that it’s too much or not enough like Black Mesa. It depends on how they think about that game, but you can’t please everyone,” Lyons said. “We may be criticized by some for not having the graphics improvements implemented by Crowbar Collective, but given that our team is much smaller and we don’t have an engine license, there is really only so much we can do.”
Whether the project can reach the scale and quality of Black Mesa does not seem to be the focus of its module makers. Peer Review-a project produced by four avid fans-is not meant to polish a mature remake with more than ten years of development time.
The developers stated that they were humbled by the level of support provided by the community, especially considering the bumpy history of Decay remasters. “I am very happy to be able to bring our gameplay to an end. We are very close to being able to go all out to improve our art pass and quality of life,” Lyons said.
PSR Digital will release updates regularly On ModDB, And recently started the second alpha work of Peer Review. There is still a long way to go, but you can see the remakes are starting to come together-and hear them too, thanks to some brand new music.