Explaining Arkane's Canceled Return to Ravenholm Game

Explaining Arkane's Canceled Return to Ravenholm Game ...

Arkane Studios has made quite the name for itself since it was releasing Dishonored in 2012, and it has continued to develop innovative experiences that combine stealth-sim tactics and otherworldly abilities. However, in the 2000s, the developer released a handful of experimental games, which in turn resulted in more possibilities. Unfortunately, most of these projects would be dismissed, and Arkane''s Return to Ravenholm, or Half-Life 2: Episode 4, was one of them.

A security breach at Eidos sparked a few CVs, some of which claimed the previously unknown Half-Life game. Since then, a few key details have been discovered about this canceled Half-Life project, including that the game was known as Half-Life 2: Episode 4, Return to Ravenholm, or just Ravenholm. A few extra details have been revealed owing to Noclip''s 2020 and 2022 YouTube documentary.

Return to Ravenholm''''s Plot

Return to Ravenholm would put the player back in the military boots of marine Adrian Shepard, the protagonist of the original Half-Life Opposing Force expansion. At the end of the Opposing Force, Shepard is put into an end-of-sacrifice condition by the G-Man, and the beginning of Return to Ravenholm sees him waking up in an abandoned asylum. During the horror-centric Ravenholm sequence, Father Grigori was dragged there.

Grigori enters a makeshift kitchen in the asylum, where he prepares some Headcrab stew. Grigori then injects himself with Headcrab blood, which he believes will lower his chances of getting infected. The asylum is then stormed by a slew of zombies, which ravage the two.

Grigori and Shepard make a farewell escape and establish a strategy to leave the asylum, travel through the abandoned city, and return to Ravenholm. Arkane and Valve have never explained why the two would wish to return to Ravenholm, as it was overrun by zombies in Half-Life 2, but it may be that the swarm there has been wiped out.

Grigori would try again with Headcrab blood over the course of the game, eventually transforming him into a completely mutated monster that the player would apparently have to take down. The rest of Return to Ravenholm''s plot remains a mystery.

Return to Ravenholm''''s New Gameplay Additions

Return to Ravenholm was also set to introduce a wide range of new gameplay concepts and features, built upon the foundation of Half-Life 2. Quite a few new weapons were expected to be added, from a nail gun and grenade to a charge gun.

Most of these new weapons would be used both in combat and during environmental puzzles, where the majority of solutions focused on carrying an electric charge through some wires. The nail gun''s projectiles would be capable of carrying a current, while the charge pistol would store energy from other sources, and snipe a ball of electricity at foes and appliances. These weapons might also be used more creatively to power up electric traps.

While Return to Ravenholm resurrected iconic headcrabs, Fast Headcrab, and zombies, it was introducing a fresh type of monster, the zombie monkey. These zombie monkeys would be able to throw objects at the player, but they would flee when light was shining on them.

Why Return to Ravenholm Was Canceled

Valve canceled Arkane''s Return to Ravenholm in 2007, after generating around ten levels, although unfinished, were fully playable. But with Valve''s Return to Ravenholm as more of a episodic title than a spinoff, it made the move to reduce its losses, putting some members of Arkane in a trap.

Valve said for Return to Ravenholm''s suspension that the zombie genre was already quite oversaturated at the time, and that Ravenholm might fall behind in the sea of other zombie titles. Now, Return to Ravenholm only lives on Arkane''s internal servers.