Valve References and Easter Eggs in Video Games

Valve is an iconic part of the games industry that makes unforgettable games, changed the way the industry works and is notorious for not releasing the third installment in the popular series. Because of its place in the hearts of both developers and gamers, it’s a name that remains relevant to this day.

Related: Hilarious Half-Life 2 memes only true fans will understand

With its role in the gaming community, gamers know to keep an eye out for small Valve references here and there. Whether it’s a major triple-A title or an indie game, there’s a good chance that one of the Easter Eggs you can find is from Valve, Half-Life, Left 4 Dead, Portal, or one of the other products that Valve has released over the years. Take a look at some of the Valve jokes and references that other developers include in their games.


10/10 Stray

There are many pop culture references in Stray, and eagle-eyed cats will notice two crowbars oddly placed in the world. There’s some debate as to whether or not the crowbar on the subway is a reference, but considering how the crowbar has become a symbol of Half-Life as Freeman’s iconic weapon, it’s a safe bet.

A more obvious and undeniable in-game event is a crowbar hanging from a literal valve. The crowbar is useless, but a nice little tribute.

9/10 The Stanley Parable

A single light burns at the end of a long, dark hallway

Considering that The Stanley Parable began development as a mod for Half-Life 2, it feels like the entire game is a reference in itself. However, there is a specific ending that you can trigger that will allow you to visit other games, including the original Half-Life mod version of the game.

It is implied that you stumbled upon it by accident and are not actually allowed to traverse these levels as the narrator cannot follow you here. It contains parts of the old levels with everything turned off, apparently because the version was “abandoned”.

8/10 payday 2

left - a stock ticker has different stocks;  Middle - a locker has graffiti and a crowbar inside;  right - a RED tower

Payday 2 contains a few references to Valve games, most notably Half-Life and Team Fortress 2. There are a few references to Half-Life, including a locker with a crowbar inside and graffiti that reads “Freeman was here.” There’s also a stock ticker showing HL3 Confirmation Services crashing, which is a cheeky little nod to Half-Life 3 seemingly never happening.

The game also has a much more direct connection to the company. During the Train Heist mission, you can find a Sentry Gun that looks just like the Engineer’s Sentry Turret from Team Fortress 2.

7/10 Cyberpunk 2077

left - a review of

Cyberpunk 2077 has a fairly large open world, so it’s no wonder it’s littered with Easter eggs. In one of your Delamain missions, you may encounter a rogue (and murderous) AI that’s a nice little nod to Portal’s GlaDOS. The initial dialogue and voice is enough to make the implication, but it only seals the deal when she says “the whole pie is gone.”

Related: Cyberpunk 2077 Easter Eggs and References You Probably Missed

The game also has a clear Half-Life 3 reference through a shard containing a review of a fake game called “No Life 3”. The review mentions that gamers had to wait fifty years for the release of the third part. Who knows if we’ll have to wait that long for HL3?

6/10 The Henry Stickmin Collection

left - a picture of Gary Mann standing with a suitcase;  right - Headcrabs jump down next to a displayed crowbar

Given how The Henry Stickmin Collection handles their own humor, it makes sense that the developers would include a lot of Valve references. A nice two-in-one reference features Gary Mann, whose name and appearance are a combination of G-Man from Half-Life and Mann Co from TF2.

Additionally, Headcrabs will attack you if you try to grab a specific crowbar in the game. There are also several easy-to-miss references to Gabe Newell, the much-poked-on boss of Valve and Steam. Look for a loading sequence and error status that both mention “gifts” and “HL3”.

5/10 Pest, Inc.

A Valve Time news update appears against a top down view of the globe

In Plague Inc. you have the task to bring about the end of the world by a plague of your choice. One of the ways you can track your progress is by checking the news updates that publish important events in the world.

An easy-to-miss news update points to Valve’s tendency for its games to spend extremely long periods of time in development, mentioning that “valve time” is much slower than researchers anticipated, and even talking about liquids having a half-life of three years have .

4/10 Emily is gone

A Windows XP user interface shows a folder of icons with only the Half Life icon visible

In Emily is Away, you can unlock different symbols by entering specific screen names. Entering Half-Life will unlock the Half-Life icon and start a chat with Gabe Newell. In the chat, he tells you that you are indeed part of an “elaborate ruse to get players to join the Half-Life 3 beta test.

3/10 Details on cleaning the bowels

left - a PDA with a protocol from Dr.  Friedman;  right - A crowbar and glasses on the floor

Viscera Cleanup Detail’s Cryogenesis Map has a Gordon Freeman reference you really need to seek out. Near one of the corpses you need to clean up, you’ll find a PDA that Dr. Jordan Friedman belongs. In his protocol he speaks of a “spy pole” and his missing glasses.

Related: Extremely satisfying cleaning games

If you take this data log to the console in the control room, it will open a hidden compartment in the wall containing his goggles and the basic crowbar.

2/10 Subway 2033

left - a skeleton holding a crowbar under rubble;  right - a hand without a thumb rises above water

Metro 2033 is another dystopian title with a mix of various Valve games it references. During the Trolley Combat mission, you can find a skeleton holding a crowbar under rubble. There are also jars on the ground nearby, quite a reference to Gordon Freeman’s corpse.

When passing a demon in the Dead City, you can also find a corpse’s hand sticking out of the water with a thumb missing. The way it looks mimics the iconic cover of the first Left 4 Dead game.

1/10 Dead Rising 2

Bloody graffiti on the wall warns of the witch

It’s always fun when zombie games reference other equally great zombie games. Dead Rising 2 features some graffiti written in blood by a seemingly confused victim warning of a “witch”. When you see this warning, listen carefully and you will actually hear the witch crying.

Interestingly, Left 4 Dead also makes some references to the protagonist of Dead Rising 2 in one of its comics.

Next: The Best Video Game Easter Eggs Ever


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