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Hypersuctor sensitiva, commonly known as the Tentacle, is a large alien creature which responds violently to sound and vibrations. It is first seen in a rocket propulsion test chamber, but is also seen through the series on Xen and in other areas of the Black Mesa Research Facility.
A large, green, segmented stalk supports a "head", which ends in a sharply pointed, blade-like appendage and features what looks like an eye. This "eye" appears to be a sensory organ, although the creature only reacts to sound and surface vibrations. Tentacles usually emanate from pits, into which they can retract when injured or in danger.
Typically several Tentacles use the same pit, suggesting that they may be appendages of a larger organism. Indeed in Half-Life, after the first Tentacle encounter, the player travels through the chasm the creature had occupied. The Tentacle's body encountered at the bottom of the chasm is somewhat squid shaped, with three stumps that appear to have been severed. Some concept art of the Tentacle, shows it to be cluster of three Tentacles attached to a bulbous base, which matches that encountered in the game. Although Tentacles usually come in groups or clusters of three, single Tentacles are also encountered, and the number of Tentacles present may reflect the size or stage of development of the base, or else a more spread-out being, with Tentacles in various locales. Reasons that could support this assumption are how the Scientist pulled from the control room, when first encountered in the silo, is pulled down into the pit and possibly eaten by the base. Another characteristic could be how it relies on hearing, as the base could be too large to fit through, and relies on keen hearing to pull prey down.
In Half-Life, the first encounter is in the chapter Blast Pit where the player encounters three tentacles in a Rocket Propulsion Silo of Sector D. These tentacles act as a sort of mini-boss. As Gordon's weapons do no damage, he has to risk himself through the Tentacle-filled Silo. As the tentacles rely on sound and vibration to locate their prey, Gordon can toss grenades to distract them temporarily. Gordon moves through the silo and reaches other areas that branch off the silo, so that he can switch on the Oxygen, Fuel and Power for the Rocket Engine. After that, he again must risk through the same Silo back to the Control Room and Activate the Rocket Engine's test fire. The intense heat of the engine kills the Tentacles and the player progresses further.
A Tentacle is later encountered in the chapter Surface Tension. It is found living in a small sandy area in the canyon, emerged from a burrow under the sand. Health, ammo and other supplies closely surround its base, and Gordon must sneak up to a dangerous proximity of the Tentacle if the player chooses to retrieve them.
Later, a Tentacle is found in the chapter Interloper, after the first teleportation in that chapter. In this appearance, the player can observe the tentacle in its natural habitat on Xen. It is found outside a cave where the player teleports in. In an area not far from there, three more Tentacles are present, with a circular rocky bridge formation surrounding them. This is Gordon's last encounter with the Tentacles and the player has to distract and sneak past them in order to progress.
Half-Life: Opposing ForceEdit
In Half-Life: Opposing Force, only two Tentacles are encountered. It is in the chapter Vicarious Reality where the player finds them in an Unconstructed Observation Area. The player has to distract them to pass through.
Behavior and skillsEdit
In terms of behavior, Tentacles aggressively target prey in the immediate vicinity of their pits. While searching for prey, they gently tap the surrounding area, but when even the quietest noise or vibration is detected, the Tentacles will furiously and repeatedly strike at the location where noise or vibration was detected. When a Tentacle comes in contact with prey, it will attempt to pull it into the pit, presumably where it is consumed and digested. In the game, this behavior is witnessed firsthand by the player when a scientist is grabbed and taken, screaming, into the pit at the base of the Tentacles.
In the game, Tentacles cannot be destroyed with the player's arsenal, but shooting the stalk a few times will temporarily drive the creature into its burrow. Great care must be taken when moving near them, forcing the player either to silently crouch past the burrow or cause a distraction with explosives (preferably hand grenades, as those don't reveal the player's location with sound), allowing the player to sprint out of range. It is a good idea to use this tactic, as tentacles can kill the player with a single strike.
Behind the scenesEdit
- Chuck Jones designed the Tentacle and the Silo D scene where the creature grabs the scientist and hauls him screaming from Silo D-01's control room. According to John Guthrie, no one at Valve was prepared for anything like this scene. When they saw the effect it had on gamers in sneak previews, they knew they had made the right decision to put animated sequences directly into the game rather than setting them apart in cut scenes.
- The code of the Tentacle's base is called "cycler", which is used to spawn props in GoldSrc.
- The tentacles of the Gene Worm are similar to the Xen Tentacle.
- It is unknown whether the tentacles are all singleminded organisms bound to the base or if they are simply appendages controlled by the base. It remains one of the games most questioned mysteries.
- The tentacle's stalk does not have its own 3D model, instead using a texture which moves with the player. This means that the texture rotates as the player moves so the player always views the same angle. This was a fairly common technique in games of that era, and because the tentacle stalk is constantly moving, it would have been very difficult to include a full 3D animation for it.
List of appearancesEdit
|Creatures||Alien Aircraft · Alien Controller · Alien Grunt · Barnacle · Boid · Bullsquid · Chumtoad · Gargantua · Headcrab · Houndeye · Ichthyosaur · Leech · Nihilanth · Protozoan · Snark · Tentacle · Vortigaunt|
|Headcrabs||Headcrab · Fast Headcrab · Gonarch · Lamarr · Poison Headcrab · Standard Headcrab · Headcrab Shell|
|Zombies||Zombie · Fast Zombie · Gonome · Poison Zombie · Standard Zombie · Zombine|
|Vortigaunts||Vortigaunt · Vortigese · All-Knowing Vortigaunt · R-4913 and X-8973 · Sweepy · Uriah · Victory Mine Vortigaunt · Vortigaunt Camp · Vortigaunt Shepherd|
|Flora and minerals||Crystal · Fungus · Healing Pool · Light Stalk · Trampoline · Tree|
|Weapons||Ceiling Turret · Hivehand · Sentry Cannon · Snark · Snark Mine|
|Technology||Healing Shower · Thumper|
|Creatures (cut)||Archer · Charger · Fast Walker · Flocking Floater · Kingpin · Mr. Friendly · Panther Eye · Sand Barnacle · Snapbug · Stukabat|
|Weapons (cut)||Black Hole Gun|