You can now play the original Half-Life with beautiful beams of ray-traced light

It’s time to dust off your trusty crowbar and see it in a new light, complete with colorful reflections. A PC mod of the original Half-Life from 1998 that adds realtime path-traced ray tracing to the game is now available, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. First teased by its creator sultim_t (Sultim Tsyrendashiev) over a year ago, the mod pack is now available to download on GitHub to install and play with the original Half-Life on Steam.

While a proper remake of Half-Life already exists in the form of Black Mesa, let’s say this falls more in the “remaster” camp — much like sultim_t’s other projects, adding ray tracing to original Doom and Quake titles. The ray-traced Half-Life has elements that still look very late-90s, but greatly elevated with lovely beams of environmental light and advanced reflections. The stark lab interiors of the Black Mesa Research Facility have a new level of grim beauty thanks to occasional baths of colorful light. Illuminating a dark room full of headcrab zombies with pools of energy left over by the tau cannon is enough to fully send a nostalgic nerd like myself.

Of course, you’ll want to have a fairly beefy PC to render this impeccable lighting. Half-Life may be old, but this lighting doesn’t come cheap on GPU load. Some forumgoers say you may need a 4090 to play at 4K resolution. But if your machine, like mine, is not up to the task, at least you can join me in reveling in some screenshots from the ongoing ResetEra thread as other ray tracing connoisseurs reprise their roles as Gordon Freeman.

We’re living in the age of impeccable game remakes and remasters, both for classics and mid-aught gems, but it’s always cool to see a blending of classic and modern graphics like this fan project.

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