“Half-Life’s” ties to survival-horror shine in “Alyx.” One enemy that most who have played “Half-Life” will remember are the Barnacles — monstrosities that attach themselves to the ceiling and dangle their long, thin, dark tongues close to the ground. VR makes their presence more unnerving. A random moment I loved happened when I pulled an object toward me that a Barnacle caught then with its tongue and devoured. I moved into place underneath it while carefully avoiding its grotesque appendage and fired a few shots, killing it and causing it to spit up my item. In that moment, and several others, I felt noticeably transported to one of the most vivid science fiction worlds I’ve experienced.
Over the length of this very long game you’ll travel back and forth across the streets of Revachol, repeatedly interviewing and following up with people. If you’re not averse to reading loads of text that is often funny and given to riffing on different ideologies, it can be an easy rhythm to get into. Don’t dawdle. Go ahead, run toward the wild side.
It’s vexing that a game that requires such skill on the part of players has technical issues. As with FromSoftware’s other games, you don’t have to look hard to spot enemies whose attacks pierce through walls, or notice fluctuations in framerate. To be sure, neither of these issues have sharply dampened my appreciation for “Sekiro,” but I very much hope that a patch will be released to improve the waffling framerate on consoles.
One of the moments I knew the game had worked its voodoo on me was when I recoiled a little at my first sight of the city of Saint Denis. After spending so much time in the countryside and in small towns, I briefly identified with Arthur’s distaste for city life. Mind you, I live in Brooklyn. Need it be said that I’ve to had to stop myself from playing into the waning hours over these past weeks? My cousin told me that the game made him feel glad to be alive. I couldn’t agree more.