Graham has been bandying Abiotic Factor around the Treehouse as “Half-Life designed for co-op survival japes”, which is obviously a noteworthy combination of words, so let’s have a look at the Steam page, trailer, and gosh, there’s a demo here too. That’s Friday night sorted.

In this 1-to-6 player first-person offering from Deep Field Games and Playstack, you are a fearful boffin exploring and escaping an underground research facility that has experienced a “catastrophic containment breach”, as is the way of underground research facilities. Your workplace is now a “cosmic battle zone” full of angry ghosts, gravity-distorting artefacts, misfiring robot security systems, and portals to neighbouring dimensions. To make matters worse, a bunch of zealous soldiers known as The Order have shown up and are gunning down human personnel and otherworldly invader alike.

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Cover image for YouTube videoAbiotic Factor – Release Date Trailer | Survival Reinvented

The characters and environments are heavily reminiscent of the first Half-Life, to the point that I’m already braced for an opening tram ride and craning my neck involuntarily to look out for Barnacles. Unlike Gordon Freeman, however, your character is a child of the everything-has-RPG-mechanics age, equipped with crafting skills and a progression system made up of roles such as Plant Geneticist and Defense Analyst, with various traits and abilities. Also unlike Gordon Freeman, you’re perhaps more of a lover (OF SCIENCE) than a fighter, deploying fancy techno-traps such as exploding tripwires to get the drop on the monstrous opposition, though there are plenty of madcap weapons to craft such as laser cannons, toothy baseball bats and ramshackle crossbows.

To survive, you’ll likely need to knock together a base of operations, scrounging resources from deserted labs and offices then using handcarts, forklifts and SUVs to transport the bits and pieces. There are teleporters, too. I personally would not step into a teleporter in a base that is actively subject to dimensional invasion, but perhaps you are a braver soul than I.

Abiotic Factor is out May 2nd 2024. The demo, which launches a few days ahead of Steam Next Fest, is available till 12th February, and spans the tutorial and an early section of the open world. It “contains a huge range of key gameplay and functionality, as well as a lot of new features, polish and improvements for anyone who may have participated in previous playtests”. The demo supports multiplayer, too, so by all means rustle up five friends of the labcoat-wearing persuasion. (I wish I had five friends of the labcoat-wearing persuasion.)

If you like your Half-Life undiluted, the original game recently got Steam Deck verified with new multiplayer maps for its 25th anniversary. Or if you’d rather read about Half-Life tonight than play it or anything inspired by it, please accept with my compliments this ancient Quinns banger about perhaps the oddest Action Half-Life map ever devised. I’ll be amazed if Abiotic Factor is nearly as unearthly.

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