The ongoing COVID-19 lockdown here in Metro Manila has been hard on everyone, including the loser shut-in who wrote this post. Yes, even I am starting to crack, so much that I’ve started writing on this blog again. What has kept me going lately is the content I’ve been consuming on YouTube, and one of those is this insane masterpiece called Half-Life VR, But the AI is Self-Aware by wayneradiotv.
This series may be of interest to you if you’re a fan of Accursed Farm’s Freeman’s Mind, which is still ongoing and may be considered the gold standard of first-person machinimas. “Machinima” is an old term used for any cinematic work that uses a video game or computer graphics engine as its main medium. The word kinda got hijacked when a website dedicated to machinima then became its own media company, which then folded last year.
Half-Life VR, But the AI is Self-Aware was made just for fun, but it blew up during this COVID-19 crisis. I think it still would’ve gotten exposure even if this global lockdown never happened, but it certainly resulted in having way more eyes on it as bored people continue to search for more weird shit to pass the time with as everything around them continues to slowly crumble.
Half-Life VR, But the AI is Self-Aware
Half-Life VR, But the AI is Self-Aware is improv comedy in machinima form. This series gives a glimpse into what Half-Life could’ve been if it were a co-op game, or if Gordon Freeman had AI-controlled companions. It’s like Left 4 Dead, but with aliens instead of zombies and Black Mesa personnel instead of random civilians.
Of course, the companions in the series aren’t actually controlled by AI. The cast consists of Wayne in the role of Gordon Freeman and his friends as his four NPC companions. There’s Benrey, the security guard who keeps wanting to see Gordon’s passport; Tommy, a nuclear engineer with the mind of an 8-year-old; Bubby, a particle physicist with psychological issues; and Dr. Coomer, who seems to have glitchy AI.
Who can Gordon trust? Who is the real enemy? What the hell is going on? How can these NPCs stay alive? Why doesn’t anything make actual sense?
As of this writing, the series is finished. The first act was streamed on Wayne’s Twitch channel on 5 March, while the fourth and final act was streamed on 9 April. Within a month, they created an absurdist theater masterpiece.
Compared to Freeman’s Mind
Both are machinima made in Half-Life, giving them an old-school look and feel that harkens back to the early 2000s when “machinima” wasn’t yet a registered trademark by that now-defunct company.
Freeman’s Mind was a carefully-crafted series. Half-Life VR, But the AI is Self-Aware is an absurdist improvisational comedy. Both are great in their own way.
But there’s something to Half-Life VR, But the AI is Self-Aware that makes it different from most other things on YouTube and elsewhere. In a way, it’s like Critical Role, but with nerds and killer aliens. The only sane character is Gordon, or maybe he actually isn’t.
Out of all the wild things that happen throughout the four acts, the overall theme is Gordon’s descent into madness. In Freeman’s Mind, Ross Scott’s Gordon Freeman pretty much keeps it together and actually walks the talk in some way.
But this Gordon actually goes from strength to weakness. Without risking any spoilers, all I can say here is he really gets fucked up the dick in the third act.
(Added on 15 May 2020)
The channel is now starting to post commentary videos on the series, taking a look into how Half-Life VR, But the AI is Self-Aware was made and the decisions they made along the way that ended up making YouTube comedy gold out of nothing.
If you feel like going crazy already in this quarantine, then do the right thing and complete your transition to complete madness. Watch Half-Life VR, But the AI is Self-Aware and have your sanity slip from your grasp.
Alright, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but maybe it isn’t if you end up feeling any sort of sympathy for the protagonist.
Have something to say? Do you agree or am I off-base? Did I miss a crucial detail or get something wrong? Please leave whatever reactions, questions, or suggestions you may have on the comment section below.
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