Back in October 2020, we reported on the release of a new mod for Half-Life: Alyx that brought the world of BioShock into the VR game. Now its developer has turned the experience into a full campaign that’s very much worth your time.
Check out the full trailer right here.
Return to Rapture from Wim Buytaert is an eight-part story that revisits even more of the underwater dystopia in a campaign that serves as a sort of VR remake/remix hybrid. Whereas the original demo retooled lots of Alyx’s own assets to bring the mod to life, Wim Buytaert told Upload that the new campaign uses 200 assets from the real game after being given permission from the original developers. The experience now has real Circus of Value and Little Sister machines, for example, and they’re even made to be fully-usable in VR.
The developer also hired a professional voice actor to help guide the story, which sees Alyx herself crash-land outside the entrance to Rapture. And that’s far from the end of it, there’s real audio diaries just like the ones seen in the original game that start to play when you pick them up, and you’ll also find written notes that tie back into the story of the original game.
We’ve got 15 minutes of gameplay from the campaign’s first half below. Pay particular attention at the start if you want to see just how authentic of a mod this really is.
Half-Life: Alyx BioShock Mod Gameplay
Note: There’s some spoilers for late-game Alyx features in the rest of this post and the video below, so use caution if you haven’t played it yet.
I’ve played about half of the campaign and it’s really impressive work. For the most part it uses the same enemies from Alyx itself (though there are some new types we won’t spoil) but they fit right in with the dank remains of Rapture and Wim Buytaert has used some of the original game’s elements in incredibly smart ways to mirror features in the original BioShock. The Vortigaunt energy you wield at the end of the game, for example, has been turned into the electricity plasmid for use in combat and puzzles, while you’ll need to avoid cameras if you don’t want to deploy security forces. Each of the eight chapters introduces new ideas and tips its hat back to both games in different ways.
There’s been some great Half-Life: Alyx mods in the year since the game’s launch (yes, we’re just a few days away from that anniversary) but nothing with the scope and depth of this. If you haven’t dived into the game’s modding scene yet then this is a really great place to start and, if you’ve dreamed of a BioShock VR game, this is as close as you can get right now. You can find them by searching for the developer’s work on Alyx’s Steam workshop page.
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