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Half-Life 2's NPCs Can Finally Blink Again

Few plights sound more miserable than not blinking for half a decade. That's exactly the situation Half-Life 2's NPCs found themselves in following an ill-fated move from Valve. Now, five years later, the poor souls can finally rest their dry eyes.

First reported to Valve's GitHub repo back in 2014, the NPCs in Half-Life 2 lost the ability to blink following the Steampipe update during which Valve moved all games on the Source engine to a different distribution system. While certain key characters would still blink during cutscenes, the other individuals that populated the setting found themselves no longer able to shut their eyes. This horrifying condition afflicted NPCs across the Half-Life series, including Episode One, Episode Two, and Half-Life: Source.

The issue went unnoticed by many players; unfortunately, it was one of those disturbing elements that you could not stop seeing once you became aware of it. People should blink and it's incredibly unnerving when they don't. While a number of unofficial fixes circulated, the problem went largely unaddressed. Now, five years later, Valve finally rectified the horrifying error via a small source update. Half-Life 2's NPCs can, at long last, close their eyes again.

Beyond the blinking bug, the September 26 patch made a few other changes, providing fixes for issues with saved games, SteamVR running in the settings menu, and missing NPC sounds. These small quality of life improvements have polished an already top-notch gaming experience. Half-Life 2 won 39 "Game of the Year" awards and was even named "Game of the Decade" at the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards. 

Given that the title first released in 2004, it has aged relatively well. Recent and overall reviews on Steam remain "Overwhelmingly Positive" for the Half-Life sequel. The base game has a reasonable $9.99 price tag and, for an additional $10, you can pick up the Orange Box bundle which includes Half-Life 2, Half-Life 2: Episode One, Half-Life 2: Episode 2, Portal, and Team Fortress 2.