Highly anticipated: After 15 years of work, Crowbar Collective's Black Mesa is almost finished. Well, according to the company's owner, it will never really be finished, but at least it will finally get its version 1.0 badge soon. The game will exit Early Access next month.
Black Mesa finally has an official release date. Adam Engels of Crowbar Collective confirmed the game would be ready on March 5.
"As I write this, I am realising that we plan to FINISH Black Mesa exactly 14 years to the month from when I first joined the team," he wrote in the game's blog. "[Fourteen] years working on a single project, with a dedicated team, that had a vision, and saw it through."
Black Mesa started in 2005 as an ambitious mod to remake the original Half-Life using HL2's Source engine. The team launched the mod unfinished in 2012. It eventually gained the attention of Valve, which gave the team the okay to make it a standalone commercial release.
The new independent project entered Steam Early Access in 2015 without the Xen chapters. At the time, the team said the remaining levels needed "a considerable amount of time to complete to their standards" and did not have a timeline for completion.
The next big update came just last year when Black Mesa: Xen entered Early Access. By this time, Crowbar Collective had a better handle on how much more was needed and gave it a loose launch window of "early 2020."
The Xen levels have received considerable attention. They got a lot of criticism in the original Half-Life, so Crowbar wanted to be sure they improved upon what Valve released. The team has added new sections to the Xen world, more developed puzzle elements, new enemies, and a bit more lore that bridges the gap between HL1 and HL2.
Engels was humble about the game, saying that it's not perfect and never will be no matter how long they work on it.
"Black Mesa is a video game, it is our video game, and it has its strengths, and its flaws," he comments. "As Leonardo da Vinci said, 'Art is never finished, only abandoned' and while we plan to fully support this game after 1.0 with bug fixes and more, it will never be a perfect game. This is not to downplay, or make excuses, but as the person who drafts most of these media posts, I think it is important to break away from the marketing and the hype."
You can buy Black Mesa for $20 on Steam and play the beta right now with the final version released as a patch on March 5.