‘Half-Life 2’s Ravenholm Reveals that Horror is the End of Resistance




Haf-Life 2, like many of the best fantasy stories that appeared before and after its release in 2004, is a story of resistance.

In the beginning, of course, there was no resistance. Because how do you defend yourself against something you know nothing about? In the end, the combine harvester conquered the land in just seven hours.

But 20 years after humanity’s first defeat by its technologically advanced oppressors, the resistance dwarfs life. Thanks to the efforts of Eli and Alice Vance, the human resistance of Half-Life 2 survives and resists. This period – the initial phase of the growing resistance movement – will be the focus from the next prequel to Half-life: Alice. And at the beginning of Half-Life 2, the resistance gathered around three main locations: their hidden base in the city of 17, on the eastern Black Sea coast, and deep in the forests of the White Forest.

The resistance is a partisan movement led by the Who’s Who of former Black Mass scientists. Eli Vance, Arne Magnusson, Isaac Kleiner – these people were on the ground in New Mexico when Gordon Freeman helped create the resonance cascade – a disaster that brought the suit to Earth in the first place. Resistance develops where there are people who – like one of the vessels in the simulated water device – feed themselves with the most powerful technology, humanity’s best and wisest ability to come together under the shoe.

At the opening of Half-Life 2, Barney Calhoun, dressed in Combine jackets, removes Gordon from the station, invisible to the eyes of the real Combine guards. It is a lesson that resistance can be anywhere at an early stage, as long as it is out of sight. But there is one place where the Resistance does not come under any circumstances: Ravenholm.

Ravenholm is often described as one of the best examples of off-game horror and is Half-Life 2 in its darkest game. Ravenholm, once an outpost of the Resistance, came under fire from the combine harvester and released a horde of crabs on the unsuspecting residents. As explained in Half Life: Faced with the forces that exist, these beings attach themselves to the head of their master and take control of their nervous system. And the crabs did it, en masse, to the people of Ravenholm. It is a bad omen that the destroyed city is still connected to the Black Mass of the East by a tunnel. When Gordon and Alice come, she’ll remember him: We’re not going to Ravenholm.

But Gordon Freeman is really going to Ravenholm. If the combination attacks the Black Mass in the east, Gordon must flee into the tunnel. The village he finds has been conquered by zombies and villains (some of which have been turned into a variant of leather and poison). After the uprising the village was completely deserted by these lingering spirits. Well, almost completely deserted. Father Gregor, the mysterious figure of the priest, remains. He’s built up a dark pastoral relationship with zombies. He’s their shepherd. It’s his herd. He offers them salvation by expelling them, a process that seems to begin with His weapon and end with His ingenious traps, circular saws that swing between the faithful.

Just so we’re clear: The mere presence of zombies doesn’t intimidate Ravenholm. In Half-Life 2 there are many crab owners. These bastards show up early, desecrating after Gordon in the sewers of city 17, and reappear throughout the game. And Ravenholm isn’t afraid, because you’re lonely too. Gordon spends most of the first half of the race alone and walks with a long, melancholic tension along the coast. Closer to the claim that Ravenholm is haunted by ghosts because the atmosphere is fundamentally different from any other.

The sun doesn’t shine in Ravenholm. The traditional European architecture that we see in the course of the game becomes claustrophobic here. Where once we had a place where we could explore a vast coastline, we were surrounded on all sides by bricks and mortar. We’re isolated, yes. But it’s the isolation that frightens Ravenholm.

As said, the sounds that zombies make are unreadable if they are not played backwards. On the contrary, the zombies scream, as it turns out: God help me, please, help me! Because of the limited half-life, we are not sure how the crab head property works. These lost souls may be tormented or remember the torments of their original possessions. In any case, it serves as a reminder of the bets made in the Resistance’s battle. That’s what happens when the combination wins.

This village is frightening because it reminds us of what humanity expects at the end of the resistance. The people who lived there were warriors, an enclave of people who came together to defeat the combine harvester against oppression. And they were killed for their efforts and abandoned by their comrades.

Leaving can have a moral weight I won’t have. There’s probably nothing we can do for the people of Ravenholm. Finally, the resistance is led by scientists who previously held high government positions. If there was a way to save them, the Resistance Brain Trust certainly would have. The fact that Ravenholm has stayed shows that Ravenholm must stay. There’s nothing you can do for people. And so she was abandoned.

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