Ever since my first encounter with Half Life 2 many years ago, I’ve been absolutely in love with the detailed world of conflict and drama that Valve created in their beloved series.
Half-Life: A Place in the West is a fan-made comic based in the Half-Life universe, but it tells a much different story than that of Gordon Freeman’s. This story follows Albert Kempinski as he searches for his daughter who was mysteriously kidnapped by a group of military commandos. Along the way he meets Leyla Poirier, a promising scientist, and a friendly vortigaunt named Dreyfus. Together they make their way to the town of New Franklin where these kidnapping commandos are said to hail from.
Things aren’t as easy as it may seem; there’s something sinister going on in New Franklin. Even though Albert is determined to find his daughter, Leyla encourages them to lay low until they figure out what’s really going on.
With each new chapter, A Place in the West had me on the edge of my seat, desperate to find out what would happen next. It’s impossible to know who to trust — but that’s the fun in turning over the page. As a character, Albert’s not always the easiest to sympathise with, but as you continue through the story you’re able to see that he, along with the rest of the cast, has skeletons in his closets caused by the war that The Combine started with humanity.
It’s filled with heartfelt moments, both sad and happy, as well as plenty of drama and action. If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead, you’ll find a similar style of narrative here that you’re likely to appreciate.
In terms of its artwork, A Place in the West has great artists working on it, for sure. It’s clear that these artists are true fans of the series and pay close attention to the important details. As a result, the comics feels right at home in the Half-Life universe, almost as though they’ve been picked out of the games themselves. There are, however, some slight variations in the art style between each chapter. It can be a little disconcerting as you go from one to the next, but once you get used to those differences, it’s right back onto the fantastic story whose pages you won’t want to end.
There are apparently thirteen chapters in the works for A Place in the West, but only three have currently been released. Episode One, titled Following Portents is free on Steam, with the subsequent chapters being available as DLC for £1.59/$1.99
Give that first chapter a go for free. If you’re even a little bit interested in Half Life, I’ve no doubt you’ll thoroughly enjoy what it has to offer and it’ll surely convince you to pick up the others. I, for one, will be following this series very closely. I’m already waiting impatiently for the next chapter’s release.