Tom Francis, writer, game designer, and famous for games like Gunpoint, Heat Signature, and (soon) Tactical Breach Wizards, was once famous (at least in my mind) for his blog posts about taking the gnome through Valve games, first Half-Life 2: Episode Two, then Left 4 Dead 2. With the latest entry in the Half-Life series (since 2011 if you include Portal 2), Half-Life Alyx, well and truly out since March of 2020 and no blog post by Tom about taking the gnome through to the end of the game for the achievement, I have decided to fill the gap at least until he writes one of his own.
The gnome is found quite early on. There is a sort of patio area next to the courtyard where Russel has you practice with the “Russels” (gravity gloves). (Some may argue that Gordon got short-changed getting the gravity gun instead, but they may be forgetting that the gun can launch objects while Alyx can only use these to launch object as far as she can throw them.) Shortly after messing with those and receiving a gun and ammunition from Russel, he sent you off, optional gnome in tow.
Once we finally got on the train to rescue Eli, I noticed the gnome has a bit of an eclectic personality. He insisted on taking a nap every chance he got.
He winced at the cruel treatment of antlion grubs:
And he maybe had a fixation on alcohol:
Luckily his keen eye helped me through puzzles:
And I think he put in a good word for me with the Vortigaunts.
The Vortigaunt in the bowels of the City 17 Quarantine Zone asked us to look for his kin. We accepted, but mainly because it was on the way to rescuing our dad. We soon found a flashlight.
And some unfortunate souls…
We soon started encountering some Combine soldiers who were sent to the Quarantine Zone to clear it of headcrab zombies. Their task also included killing anyone unlawfully in the area, which unfortunately meant us! After a long fight, I put the gnome on watch duty to alert me if any more showed up while I grabbed the terminal’s missing computer parts to stop the train carrying Eli.
The gnome was very interested in our tearful reunion. I had to give him a better view. Eli sent us on a quest to get some kind of weapon from the floating Vault in the middle of the city and the Vortigaunt had told me to follow the Northern Star earlier.
Oh so that’s what the Vortigaunt meant.
The gnome was upset at the Combine’s treatment of the Vortigaunts.
While Alyx dealt with Jeff in the distillery, the gnome had his fill.
Finally we made it to the Vault. We deftly operated the controls…
… To bring the vault crashing into the ground.
After navigating the broken apartment/parking garage we created with many Combine soldiers and a Strider(!), the gnome took the last shot and killed our last obstacle.
And with that, we made it to the tractor beam into the vault!
That’s it for our gnomey friend. Absent from Valve games for nearly 11 years and absent from Half-Life games as long as Half-Life games have been absent (not including Portal 2).
I now have a permanent record of this achievement, just like Tom Francis before me. One minor difficulty with making this blog post is that most story moments happen over the radio. Gone are the days of loading the gnome onto a tall shelf and having it stare down at Eli trying to convince Alyx to shack up with Gordon. I still had fun keeping track of the gnome while playing Half-Life Alyx for my first play-through.