About a week and a half ago, I was given the opportunity to be a part of DISREPAIR, a newly released Half-Life 2 mod developed by the same team behind Half-Life Remnants, another source engine mod that I was blessed to be a part of its development team. While not a direct developer of DISREPAIR, I did participate as a play tester during the various iterations of the mod. Here is my review.
DISREPAIR is a short, atmospheric horror mod developed by Team Vestige and was released on Mod DB. You play as an anonymous Combine hazmat worker, dispatched to the destroyed ruins of the old Black Mesa research facility to take photographs of radioactive anomalous materials. What mysteries lurk behind the dark halls of the facility’s dark office complex?
In my time as a play tester, I recall the interactions between me and the project’s lead developer SCP Gaming being quick and engaging. With constant updates and feedback to various alpha builds, the project moved very quickly and efficiently. I recall the project being extremely short in development, and was fully completed and polished within a six month time frame through the early first half of 2023.
With each new iteration of the mod’s build, new things were added, and necessary changes were made to make the mod a much better interactive experience. At first the mod was mostly a visual walking sim with very little challenge or gameplay, with taking 7 photographs of the various radioactive anomalies around the level the core objective.
The level design significantly improved from previous build iterations, with brand new puzzles appearing in each new version. The layout of each build was also substantially different and much more improved than the last.
Funny how regardless of each iteration, I would always get lost within the labyrinth of the decrepit office complex trying to find the next radioactive crystal. Either my attention span has gotten rusty with each build or the mod does a great job at making you feel lost and uneasy (both are extremely plausible).
DISREPAIR is a very claustrophobic and visually dark game. The atmosphere and music were practically on point with the mod’s pixelated monochromatic art style. Every asset seen is completely custom made, with no vanilla Half-Life 2 assets seen, giving it a true total conversion mod status.
In regards to visual filters and effects with its lighting and design, DISREPAIR does get in the way of exploration with the low render distance, as well as the analog camera filter obfuscating much of what you are looking at.
The sound design though is great with sharp, clicky and reverberated sounds for both UI and level interaction, adding to the already uneasy tension of the setting.
While not a challenging game, within its length DISREPAIR does offer otherwise serviceable puzzles with brain tickling solutions, as well as an original hacking mini-game mechanic.
In regards to narrative design, much of the mod’s narrative is expressed through environmental storytelling, as well as various notes scattered everywhere detailing the hidden story of the setting. Most of the material given is vague, and much of what is given is up to the player to piece together as to what is really going on.
Overall, DISREPAIR is by far one of the better source mods released this year, let alone a very polished mod that got released in a reasonable timespan. In a sea of unfinished, copy and paste Half-Life 2 mods with ludicrously long development cycles, it’s refreshing to see something that, while almost too short, is clean and original in design, as well as visually appealing and unique.
It was a pleasure to work with lead developers SCP Gaming and MPy, as well as the rest of Team Vestige in being apart of the development and iterative process of DISREPAIR. Congratulations to them on their success and recognition from the community, and I hope for more unique experiences to come from them in the near future.