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Half-Life Alyx is full of characters who are familiar faces to the Franchise and new to Alyx’s adventures alike. Given the time between installments, you’d be forgiven for not being caught up on who all these familiar faces are. You’d also be forgiven for mixing up Gary and Larry. They have very little in common, yet, those names are easy to fumble. Sure would be nice if there was a guide on the subject, right?
I have put together a document of the important figures, familiar faces, and overall friendly folks of City 17. I have always been fascinated with this unique and weird world. Running around and looking these folks in the eye is a trip!
While there might not be the whole roster, some significant pieces are rattling around the orange box’s introduction to Vr. Thanks to my rabid need to know everything enigmatic, I have binge studied everything I needed to know about this lot. So don’t fret; I am only leaving in the essential bits.
Due to the nature of this guide, spoilers for Half-Life: Alyx are included below. Please be advised.
Bottom Line Up Front
Alliance: The Resistance
Related Characters: Dr. Eli Vance (Father), Russel (Friend, Co-Conspirator), Gordon Freeman (Future Friend and Ally)
I hate you, Jeff.
Your neighborhood window friend
Appears: Ch 1
Relation to Alyx: Olga’s past is left up in the air. While to the player, her purpose is the game to drill into the player’s head that they are Alyx. While to Alyx herself, all that is known is Olga is a familiar and friendly presence.It is unknown if they knew each other t all before Alyx moved to City 17 after the Black MEsa Incident.
Related Characters: Alyx (Resistence Ally, Friend), Combine (Enemies, Paranoid of their take over of City 17)
Inventor of ‘The Russells.’ Voice in your ear
Appears: Ch 1
Relation to Alyx: The Resistance, Intel gatherer, Friend, and voice in her earpiece.
Related Characters: Dr. Eli Vance (Friend, Co-Conspirator), Alyx (Friend, Co-Conspirator.),
Pick up the gun, Alyx! I doubt you’ll need to use it much..
DR. ELI VANCE
Renowned Scientist and Plot Device
Appears: Ch 1
Relation to Alyx: Father
Related Characters: Alyx (Daughter), Russell (Friend, Co-Conspirator),
One Combine mini-reactor from a shipment of 4000. They’re never gonna miss it.
Appears: Ch 2
Relation to Alyx: Ally, The one to teach Aly what headcrab tastes like. Helps her on her path.
Related Characters: Dr. Eli Vance (Friend), “The Free Man” (Speaks of Gordon Freeman like a legend to his people.), Combine (Enemy, previous enslavers)
I am alone in my head.
An absolute madman, second-leading Jeff Wrangler
Appears: Ch 7
Relation to Alyx: After Alyx saves him, Larry opens up the path to story progression and informs Alyx of Jeff.
Related Characters: Alyx (Ally, Savior), Jeff (Leading Expert on Jeffs), Barnacle (No longer on speaking terms.)
You know, I thought we had an agreement. Keep your tongue in yourself, and I don’t shoot you.
Dr. GORDON FREEMAN
Once-A-Protagonist, now a legend
Appears: Ch 11
Relation to Alyx: In the future (Half-Life 2), Alyx assists Freeman throughout the game.
Related Characters: The G-Man (Stalker and ‘Boss’), Alyx Vance (Future Friend), Dr. Eli Vance (Friend, Former Co-Worker)
The sound of pensive silence was followed by a crowbar smack. Freeman appears to be mute.
Interdimensional Bureaucrat, Freeman Stalker
Appears: Ch 11
Relation to Alyx: Nothing is straightforward with G-Man. Likely Xeno, but not Xeno we are fully aware of. He seems neutral, if not benevolent. His alliance is to some grander picture. One he finds amusement in the obscurity of.
Related Characters: Gordon Freeman (Previous Person-of-interest)
“What if I could offer you something you didn’t know you wanted?”
Alyx Vance was introduced to use in Half-Life 2, set five years after Half-Life Alyx. She acts as a friend and ally to Dr. Gordon Freeman, constantly assisting him in the fight and acting as a powerful face of the Resistance. In HL: A, she has yet to meet and has only heard of Gordon through Eli.
In Half-Life Alyx, she acts as the protagonist and is the character we control throughout the story.
Alyx was raised in the Black Mesa facility before being forced to escape with her father, Eli, while losing her mother, Azian. She and Dr. Eli Vance fled to City 17, where they took to joining the Resistance and fighting against the invading Combine forces. Specifically, Alyx, Eli, and their friend Russell work to invent powerful tools their friends and allies can use to take on the Combine threat.
Eli and Alyx are captured by the Combine at the beginning of the game. Not knowing who was in what van, Russell ends up saving Alyx. Together, they go on to save her dad. However, her mission isn’t complete. Eli encourages her to track down the superweapon as he assumes this is a captured Gordon.
Alyx proves herself to be a master with a gun, a multitool (Hacking), and dealing with stress under pressure. She is also shown to have inherited her father’s charisma, always able to keep a cool head and calm wit even with a headcrab on her face.
Dr. Eli Vance – Alyx’s Father. Obviously, she looks up to him and will go to the ends of time and space to protect him.
Russell – Initially friends through Eli, over the events of Half-Life Alyx, they continually bond and keep each other calm during the struggles and traumas that transpire. Russell communicates to Alyx through an earpiece through which he can see what is going on and feed her intel.
Dr. Gordon Freeman – Alyx and Gordon will become allies in the future. Together, they take on the forces of the Combine and seek to end their rule over City 17.
G-Man – G-man considers Alyx to be a worthy successor to Freeman. We’ve yet to learn if this is good news.
“Hey, Russell. I just found a loose syringe of god knows what. Is it medicine?”
“Dad and I would get a house and help rebuild, ya know? And then I’d, you know, probably start a secret lab.”
“Textbook! Textbook jinxing Russell!”
Olga is a character that only appears twice in Half-Life: Alyx and has not appeared in any other titles in the Franchise. She appears only in the first chapter as the Combine closes in on the Vance family.
While she holds little purpose to the story, she carries a thematic purpose. Olga exists to drive the point to the player home that they are controlling Alyx Vance, not Gordan Freeman. She is the first physical presence you meet, and her first line calls out for Alyx. This repeatedly and pointedly tells the player that Alyx is you. Not a plot point.
Her second appearance is a physical conversation with Alyx in an alleyway to further drive home you are Alyx. Not Freeman.
Alyx – Based on her nervous behavior and familiarity with Alyx, she is a Resistance member and is now either held by the Combine or executed. Unless, of course, she managed to escape. The Resistance hopes.
Combine – She is paranoid but more in line with the situation than anything that might prove she was a part of the mission that got the initial plot rolling.
“Psst… Alyx. Alyx!”
“This doesn’t seem like a routine sweep.”
“Something’s got the CPs riled up. It’s probably nothing.”
Russel will be the main character you interact with. He is the inventor of ‘the Russells,’ the gravity gloves that will act as your primary means of interacting with the world. Next to Alyx, I am getting at that he is the most essential character in the game.
We don’t get to learn a considerable amount about his past. We understand he was trying to become a scientist at Black Mesa but was told to try again in a year. This ended up being a godsend, as the Black Mesa Incident happened that year. We never see him in the previous games, meaning he has either been active behind the scenes or hasn’t done anything relevant to Gordan Freeman.
Thanks to the Gravity gun being invented by Eli Vance, as well the Russells looking to use similar technology, it is likely Russell has been working with Eli to advance this technology if not having been a part of its construction from the beginning.
Russell acts as a well-needed tension easer in HL: A. He will help diffuse the player’s tension when they first encounter headcrabs and headcrab zombies. But, most importantly, Russell helps inform Alyx and the player of what these creatures might be. His inclusion makes this game friendly to a beginner to the Franchise.
He is also indispensable, and I will burn down all of City 17 if any harm comes to him.
Dr. Eli Vance – Russel most frequently worked with Eli in the Resistance. While he works with Alyx through the game, his dialogue suggests he aimed to save Eli first out of a sense of loyalty, friendship, and fear for his life. They appear to be friends rather than just co-workers. They share a kindred inventor’s spirit.
Alyx Vance – While they appear to know each other, it seems more of a familiarity and light friendship at first. However, as Alyx and Russell work to save Eli from the Combine, they quickly grow to have a stronger friendship. In addition, the pair often rely on each other for moral support.
“Well, yes. I had no way of knowing who was in which van. So… Yes. The result was that I saved you.”
“I’m with you every step of the way.”
“Alyx, have you ever heard of a club sandwich?”
Dr. Eli Vance
Dr. Vance has been with us since the very first game. Though he wasn’t named back then, he has been a foundational member of the Half-Life storyline.
His inventions include: Dog, the Gravity Gun, working on a transdimensional teleporter, and more he is likely uncredited with. Thanks to the similarities, Eli either worked on the ‘Russells with Russell. That, or Russell was a vital part of the history of the gravity gun. Eli’s invention is definitely far more powerful.
Dr. Eli Vance is Alyx’s father and was involved in the Black Mesa incident. He, Alyx, and his wife, Azian, used to live in the facility. While both Eli and Alyx were able to survive the Black Mesa Incident, Azian perished at some point before or during their escape. During this time in Black Mesa, he becomes familiar with Dr. Gordon Freeman.
After escaping, he and Alyx relocated to City 17, where they became two driving forces in the Resistance against the Combine. Half-Life Alyx begins during his attempts to steal a Combine mini-reactor from a large shipment with the help of Russell. The group finds information on a superweapon he learned about being contained in a strange building known as the Vault.
This knowledge initially gets the Combine’s attention, leading to his capture and setting the game’s plot in motion. Alyx and Russell help save him from the Combine as the game progresses. From that point on, he joins Russell in the player’s ear with his ‘job’ to the player being exposition on Gordon, the Super Weapon, and being his fabulous self.
At the end of Half-Life: Alyx, Alyx encounters the G-man. After a conversation on the matters of the universe, G-man offerings Alyx a way to change the future. This directly involves Dr. Eli Vance and his original ending in Half-Life 2. Which, thanks to Alyx’s intervention, now results in two timelines.
Alyx – Father, Alyx, and Eli have been surviving together since Alyx was born. First in Black Mesa, then in City 17.
Russell – It is unknown when Russell and Eli met, as Russell has stated he wanted to work for Black Mesa but never got hired. Thanks to their similarities, it is assumed Russell either worked with Eli on the Gravity Gun, or Eli worked with Russell on ‘The Russell’s. They are shown to work in the same makeshift lab and fight in the Resistance together, namely, in arming members of the Resistance.
Dr. Gordon Freeman – Starting from the Black Mesa Incident in Half-Life 1 to the events of Half-Life 2 onward, Eli and Gordon have had a solid and close friendship. Before the events of Half-Life Alyx, Eli and Gordon worked together as Scientists for Black Mesa. Gordon helped keep back the Xen and Combine, which allowed Eli and Aly to escape along with many others. Due to this, Eli views Gordon with a high level of respect and admiration. In Half-Life 2, Eli tells Gordon he could not be prouder if Gordon were his son.
Gary – Gary and Eli don’t share much screentime together. Gary does save Eli and escorts him back to the lab he shares with Russell. There are some implications to this, however. In Half-Life 2, according to the Vortigaunts themselves, Eli was the first human to make peaceful contact with the Vortigaunt and persuade them to fight back against the COmbine with humanity. There is plenty to theorize that this first meeting between Eli and Gary is that initial meeting that instigates the Human and Vortigaunt relationship.
G-Man – Eli has stated that, during the events of Half-Life 1, G-man interacted with him warning him that activating the Anti-Mass Spectrometer (a piece of technology that helped start the Black Mesa Incident) would require Eli’ Prepare for unforeseen consequences. Besides this, Eli does not seem to know much about the enigmatic suit-wearing spook. Furthermore, he does not seem happy with G-man’s sudden interest in Alyx at the end of Half-Life Alyx.
“One Combine mini-reactor from a shipment of 4000. They’re never gonna miss it.”
“It’s a weapon, Alyx! It’s what they’re hiding in here. It’s what we found out about, and that’s why they grabbed us.”
“Alyx, whatever this weapon is, you need to either steal it or destroy it.”
While the exact circumstances are unclear, Gary is a Vortigaunt who sustained a traumatic brain injury from the Combine. It is suggested his injury was, in some way, due to being enslaved and tortured by the Combine. The circuitry left in his body and the brand on his chest suggests he was used to power something for the Combine.
The brain injury has a few unfortunate symptoms. The vital issue is; that first, it disconnects Gary from the psychic connection all Vortigaunt share. As he puts it, he is ‘alone in his head.’ Second, while Vortigaunt inherently views the passage of time differently, Gary’s brain injury has left him unable to distinguish the past, present, and future events from one another.
Gary has been isolated from both his own kin and, it seems, other life-forms for a while now. His speech is a bit off for both English and Vortigaunts. He has taken refuge in the Quarantine Zone while gaining a taste of cooking headcrabs.
We meet him at this point, having our frantic search for Dr. Eli Vance cut momentarily short of having his story told to us. Thankfully, he is a most excellent host. He offers Alyx some of that delicious-looking headcrab he is whipping up. She doesn’t eat it, but the point is he provided.
Afterward, Gary directs Alyx on where she should go next. Finally, we run into him again when he saves Eli from premature death, leading him off to the lab.
Alyx – Dinner guest and Ally. Gary assists Alyx in her journey on multiple occasions while also informing her of the Vortigaunt that is trapped and used to power ‘The Vault’s defense mechanisms.
Eli – Gary saves Eli and takes him to his lab. In Half-Life 2, it is mentioned that Eli was the first human to interact with the Vortigaunt in a friendly manner while encouraging their joining of the Resistance against the Combine. There is potential that this interaction is, in some way, related as Half-Life 2 happens 5 years after Half-Life Alyx.
Gordon Freeman – Thanks to the Vortigaunt’s mental connection to each other, Gary is aware of Gordan Freeman. Though he no longer shared his connection to his kin, it is clear he remembers the ‘Free Man’ as he has decorated the Quarantine Zone with graffiti that stars the Free Man himself.
Combine – The Combine injured Gary at some point. Evidence points to the theory that Gary was a Vortigaunt hooked up to one of the Combine’s many systems, thanks to the circuitry still stuck in the poor VOrtigaunt, the brand on his chest, and how the Combine treated to Vortigaunt. How and when Gary escaped is unclear.
“No riddles! The Combine drilled here. I do not know when I am. I am severed from the Vortessence. I am alone in my head.”
“The Eli Vance! The Alyx Vance! I am here to help as I said I would. Go!”
” I love you, too!”
Larry’s background is unknown; it is unclear if he is a part of the Resistance, highly resourceful, or insanely lucky. It is apparent, though, that Larry is absolutely mad. For one, he seems to have named a massive invincible Xen zombie of horrors Jeff’. Talking to these creatures does not seem unusual for Larry, as Alyx and the player find poor Larry upside down with his leg snagged by a barnacle.
This is how we meet Larry, and he is trying to explain to this strange brainless being that they had an agreement. No tongue, no bullets. We can understand Larry’s frustration as one of the man’s finest fashion pieces is a construction helmet with nails piercing through the top. This one having grown cunning from Larry’s agreements having less weight than the hunger of ceiling demons.
This seems to be a moot argument as it looks Larry was pondering if he needed to go whole survival and cut his leg off. After we save him, he teaches us about Jeff while pushing down a ladder for us to progress.
Larry is lowkey my favorite in this game. I appreciate him.
The Barnacle – They had an agreement. The barnacle didn’t keep to it.
Jeff – Larry appears to be the leading expert on Jeff. Likely the only one besides Alyx who has seen Jeff and survived.
Alyx – Larry is saved from the Barnacle by Alyx. If wearing a helmet, being a man of refined taste, he will compliment it.
“You know, I thought we had an agreement. Keep your tongue in yourself, and I don’t shoot you.”
“Hey! You with the… uh. With the blood on you. You with the blood!”
“Don’t underestimate our boy Jeff. He… Uh. He doesn’t have much patience.”
Dr. Gordon Freeman was a theoretical physicist at Black Mesa when an event known as the Black Mesa Incident occurred. Dr. Freeman went on to be a driving force in keeping this event from becoming a more significant loss of life. He went on to be a continued crowbar in the gears of the Combine Machine.
Gordon acted as the protagonist for the previous main entries in the Half-Life series, with Alyx having helped him through the events of Half-Life 2. However, as this is five years before that game, Gordon is currently stuck on a Tram being rambled to by G-man. Supposedly.
Once we reach the end of the game, we learn G-man and Gordon Freeman’s relationship has taken a bit of a turn. G-Man would like to offer Alyx a chance to shine in Gordon’s place. After the credits, we momentarily take control of Freeman at the very end of the game. Eli seems to know that G-man has taken Alyx. We are given a crowbar, and the game ends.
Dr. Eli Vance – Dr. Eli Vance and Freeman worked together at Black Mesa under the science division. While we only see him briefly, they encounter each other at multiple points during the Black Mesa Incident. In Half-Life 2, Eli tells Gordon that he couldn’t be more proud of him if he were his own son.
The sound of physics being theorized. Quietly, of course. Gordon never speaks. Not in any game that I am aware of.
The only thing known about the G-man is that he and his employers work in opposition to the Combine. Initially, he seemed to be focused on using Dr. Gordon Freeman to meet that goal. However, G-man has grown impatient with this.
We don’t see or hear about the G-man until the very end of the game. It turns out the superweapon we have heard about is G-man himself. The Vault had just been a prison to keep someone of his power and capabilities. The moment Alyx frees him, reality appears to be under his direct influence and control.
G-man is shown to be able to teleport himself and others through not only space but time. After letting Alyx fulfill a wish for saving him, The G-man then offers Alyx a job.
Dr. Gordon Freeman – The previous hero ‘hired’ by the G-man. Like Alyx, Gordon had to go through a test first. This test, purposefully or not, was the Black Mesa Incident. G-man’s opinion of Gordon seems to have wavered in favor of Alyx.
Dr. Eli Vance – At some point during the events of Half-Life 1, G-man briefly approaches Eli to ‘warn’ him of the dangers of his experiments. He does not seem to encounter him much more. Eli doesn’t seem to hold G-man in high regard.
Alyx Vance – After being saved by Alyx, he offers her a ‘wish.’ Upon ‘granting’ that wish, he considers Alyx to be Gordon’s more worthy successor.
“Perhaps what I am… Is not as important as what I can… offer you, in exchange for coming… All this way.”
“Some believe the fate of our world is inflexible. My employers disagree.”
“What if I could offer you something you didn’t know you wanted?”
Question: When in the Half-Life Timeline is Half-Life Alyx Set?
Answer: HL: A is set between Half-Life (Canonically 2000’s) and Half-Life 2 (Canonically 2020s). To be more specific, Half-Life Alyx is set five years before Half-Life 2. So putting it somewhere between 2015 and 2020.
Question: Who are the Xen and the Vortigaunt in Half-Life Alyx?
Answer: The Xen is both a classification for the various species of flora and fauna and the name of a dimension. The Xen species are not inherently native to the Xen dimension. Instead, creatures like Headcrabs and Lightning Dogs come from another dimension entirely. They ended up trapped in a space between dimensions, Xen. Thanks to the Black Mesa incident, they are now rampaging/growing throughout City 17.
The home planet or planets these species come from are currently unknown. The Vortigaunt came to Earth from Xen, most if not all initially as enslaved batteries for Combine machinery.
Question: Who are the Combine in Half-Life Alyx?
Answer: The Combine are very similar to the Empire in Star Wars or a multi-nation dictatorship. They are never seen without their armored uniforms. The Combine are an empire spanning multiple planets that have taken to using the Xen to invade other worlds or dimensions to further their territory.
They are the driving force and are not allied with the Xen species such as the Headcrabs. While the Combine might use tactics that harness the feral capabilities of creatures such as Headcrabs or the power-generating qualities of a Lightning Dog. However, this is more like capturing lions and releasing them in a village.
I currently have the theory that G-man and his employers seek to deal with the COmbine. Whether it is for benevolent reasons or if they wish to take over in the resulting power vacuum has yet to be confirmed.
So. Final bit of info on the G-man. It is, apparently, not wise to say his name multiple times. Although I am not sure the number of times, I do know that he keeps appearing as a wispy ghost of a head slowly advancing on me. However, he then is far away. The entire time he monologues.
As you would imagine, this is getting highly annoying. So I think I should go see a particular doctor about how I deal with that problem. He probably isn’t happy; I prattled on about his Freeman stalking past.
This is everything you need to know to keep yourself from forgetting faces around City 17. Have a marvelous one.