Half-Life: Alyx is great. One of the best virtual reality games I’ve ever played and one of my favorite games of 2020. Hard to improve on that. Yet, a new let’s play series has found one way to make Valve’s VR hit even better: Add a really weird and annoying self-aware gnome to the adventure.
Half-Life: Alyx But The Gnome Is Too Aware started back in June 2021 as a series of livestreams held by internet content creator and streamer WayneRadioTV. However, it wasn’t until November that edited, shorter versions of the streams started appearing on YouTube. And since then, I’ve been hooked on each new installment in the supernatural comedy.
The premise of Half-Life: Alyx But The Gnome Is Too Aware is simple: Wayne, the man playing the game in VR, has installed a secret, hidden mod for Half-Life: Alyx that would “breathe life” into the game’s usually silent Gnome Chompsinky prop. However, pretty quickly into his run, it becomes clear the gnome is not a simple mod and it both berates, frustrates, insults, and befriends Wayne as he desperately tries to bring it to the end of the game, earning an achievement in the process.
Now to be clear, the mod isn’t real. This is all roleplay. Wayne and the folks involved with voicing the gnome and talking to Wayne are using improv to create a silly storyline as they go, often contradicting past statements in order to create weirder or funnier jokes and gags. What makes this work so well is that Wayne is good at playing the straight man trying to deal with a supernatural entity that seems hellbent on driving him insane. It also helps that the folks involved are genuinely funny and able to improv well, often pushing each other to get weirder or sillier, with fantastic results.
If this all sounds familiar to the also hilarious Half-Life VR But The AI Is Self Aware let’s play series from 2020, that’s because Wayne and his friends were the ones behind that hugely popular series too. And like HLVRAI, the gnome series uses Half-Life as a foundation to build upon. Instead of building sets and creating elaborate costumes and effects, Wayne and his friends can use the already established lore and world of Half-Life to more easily create and tell their own odd stories. The end result is a comedic let’s play series that is already one of my favorite shows of 2022.
As of now, the series has entered its fourth act. You can catch past episodes on WayneRadioTV’s YouTube channel, to get caught up on all the gnome antics before new episodes arrive in the near future.