Canceled Half-Life game ‘Ravenholm’ finally shows Father Grigori’s fate

After years of waiting, we’re finally getting to look at the canceled Half-Life game Ravenholm in Noclip’s Arkane Studios documentary that was announced last week. Among the many games featured in this deep dive of the studio’s history is Ravenholm (code-named Half-Life 2: Episode 4), an officially-licensed third-party expansion for Half-Life 2 that never saw the light of day.

The Untold History of Arkane: Dishonored / Prey / Ravenholm / LMNO / The Crossing details the history of a game developer with more than two decades of experience and a rather interesting history. One of the highlights is the fact that many more of its games were canceled instead of being released, and one of those titles is the canceled Half-Life game Ravenholm.

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If it’s been a few years since you last played Half-Life 2, Ravenholm was the name of a town that was completely overrun by headcrabs. It served as an introduction to many of the game’s physics elements and also featured Father Grigori, a crazed priest who was last seen battling headcrab zombies in a valiant last stand.

Canceled Half-Life game Ravenholm Father Grigori transformation

Ravenholm reveals that Father Grigori not only survived his last stand but has continued his fight against the alien invaders. Among his many new innovations were a serum that he thought would protect him from the aliens, but later portions of the game would show that he was gradually mutating into something not quite human.

About “9 or 10” levels were actually completed for Ravenholm, so this was more than a simple prototype; this was a game that was well into production. Aside from expanding into new areas of Ravenholm and a deeper story, it also introduced several new innovative weapons into the game.

Canceled Half-Life game Ravenholm nailgun

Consider, for example, the nailgun. As with many guns in the Half-Life games, it served as a decent weapon but had a much more useful purpose — the nails could be used to transmit electrical power across the map. As an example, you could use nails to power a door and open it up.

That was far from the only cool new gun, though. Several other guns were shown off in the video — a new plasma weapon, a souped-up leafblower — as well as returns of classic weapons like the shotgun.

Canceled Half-Life game Ravenholm leaf blower

The leaf blower was a particularly interesting new gun. It was more or less a weapon that could be used to double-jump similar to rocket-jumping from Quake, but unfortunately, it was never actually created before production on the canceled Half-Life game Ravenholm was halted.

Ultimately, Arkane Studios was making a more linear game than it was used to. While a lot of progress had been made, Valve eventually decided to cancel the game. Arkane made one last-ditch effort to get Ravenholm produced, but it was never able to be completed.

You can see much of the canceled Half-Life game Ravenholm in motion in Noclip’s documentary starting at 32:55. Arkane is still keeping some secrets (including what it was intending for the ending); if we’re fortunate, we may one day get to play this missing piece of gaming history.