Ambitious Half-Life remake Black Mesa is set to be officially released on March 5 following an extended stay in Steam’s Early Access program.
“Through luck, hard work, and maybe a bit of ignorance we didn’t shy away from our goal of bringing this game to completion,” says Adam Engels of the Black Mesa team via a blog post. “We are proud of what we built. We think this upcoming 1.0 release is the best, most polished, and most fun version of the game yet. The anticipation and excitement around our project is beyond flattering.”
So why is Black Mesa finally being officially released now after spending about five years as one of the Early Access program’s most notable titles? Well, the biggest reason is seemingly the fairly recent release of the game’s long-awaited Xen update.
For quite some time, Black Mesa essentially “ended” before you got to the original game’s final levels in the realm known as Xen. Because those final levels have always been seen as something of a…rough patch for the otherwise all-time great game, the Black Mesa team devoted quite a bit of work to improving and re-imagining them. The addition of that final chunk of content is certainly justification enough to finally consider Black Mesa to be “finished.”
However, this move is about more than that. It also represents the release of smaller improvements to the game’s A.I. and some alterations to the rest of the title’s content. So far as that goes, the Black Mesa team states that this official release shouldn’t be seen as the end of the road.
“Black Mesa is a video game, it is our video game, and it has its strengths, and its flaws,” reads a statement in the Black Mesa studio’s recent blog post. “As Leonardo da Vinci said, ‘Art is never finished, only abandoned’ and while we plan to fully support this game after 1.0 with bug fixes and more, it will never be a perfect game.”
Perfect or not, Black Mesa’s road to release has been impressive. What began as a mod for the original Half-Life soon became a far larger project that essentially sought to fully remake Half-Life. Along with a suite of impressive visual upgrades, that also meant re-imagining some of the game’s core concepts much as we’ve seen in such ambitious modern remakes like Capcom’s Resident Evil 2. After over a decade of work, the various contributors to Black Mesa have essentially finished a project that many people wrote off over the years as an internet pipe dream.
Of course, as we’re seeing in the case of PC gamers’ growing infatuation with making their dream versions of Nintendo games, you should never really underestimate the PC gaming community’s ability to make some incredible things happen.