Flight of the Conchords' Rhys Darby Really Wanted to Know What a Headcrab Tasted Like

Flight of the Conchords' Rhys Darby Really Wanted to Know What a Headcrab Tasted Like

In Half-Life: Alyx, Darby plays a character whose culinary interests are… interesting, let's say. Are you eager to try some Headcrab stew?

Now that Half-Life: Alyx is out, the internet is awash with reviews, interviews, and spoilers (be warned, the ending is out there). From our own interview with Valve, we learned an intriguing tidbit from writer Erik Wolpaw: Rhys Darby, best-known for playing Murray in HBO's Flight of the Conchords, helped nudge his Half-Life: Alyx character Russell toward a strange gustatorial curiosity. He wants to know what a Headcrab tastes like... and now so do we.

Speaking with Wolpaw for the first chunk of our Half-Life: Alyx interview, he told USgamer that he liked Darby for the role in part because of the warmth of his voice—a reassuring presence goes a long way when aliens are trying to kill you in virtual reality. After Darby lent his New Zealander lilt to the role, he also started sinking his teeth into the material.

Wolpaw says Darby wasn't familiar with Half-Life before signing on, but his interests in the stranger stuff in the script ultimately helped Russell go from helpful-scientist-on-Alyx's-radio to a bit of an odd specimen himself. "The thing that always happens is, you write some stuff, you go in and record with the actor, they have some ideas, and you kind of learn what sounds better when they say it," Wolpaw explains. "Russell got more interested in kind of pressing Alyx on trying different things, like touching things or being curious about what a Headcrab tastes like. Rhys really responded to those types of things. You want to do things that the actor really enjoys."

This is a very minor spoiler, but in an early chapter of Half-Life: Alyx, you do get to see a bit of Headcrab cuisine up close. Going way back to 2004's Half-Life 2, you could catch a brief glimpse of some Vortigaunts cooking up 'crab stew in Black Mesa East's kitchen. It's unclear whether they were just preparing food for themselves (Vortigaunts and Headcrabs are both native to the same alien ecosystem) or if they were making a meal for the resistance's human members as well. It's worth noting, also, that Russell has a Headcrab in his lab's fridge marked "do not eat," so maybe the jury's out on how human digestion can handle them during the time of Half-Life: Alyx.

For my money, I think Darby's onto something (also, maybe Russell has to swear off Xen delicacies, but I can't help but picture Darby's werewolf character from What We Do in the Shadows chowing down). For fun, I did a quick poll of USgamer's staff to see what we all think Headcrab might taste like:

Mathew Olson, Reporter (that's me): Headcrab probably tastes like a stinky, nutty cheese. An acquired taste, but maybe a good one. Texturally, though, I don't want to think about it.

Nadia Oxford, Staff Writer: Probably foul, plus pure poison. To me, nothing says "desperate apocalyptic landscape" like an invasive, deadly species that can't even be eaten or used in any meaningful way.

Eric Van Allen, News Editor: I imagine pretty gamey, probably not a lot of meat compared to fat, though maybe the legs have a bit more muscle.

Kat Bailey, Editor-In-Chief: I think it would be a bit like a crab, but with a much meatier body. It could be surprisingly good!

If you'd like to let us know what you think Headcrabs taste like, please leave a comment below (especially if you're Rhys Darby). For more on Half-Life: Alyx, read our review, check out our spoiler-lite easter egg roundup, and take notes on Wolpaw's recommendations for things to read, play, and watch before starting up the game.

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Mathew Olson


Mathew Olson is a writer formerly of Digg, where he blogged and reported about all things under the umbrella of internet culture (including games, of course). He lives in New York, grew up under rain clouds and the influence of numerous games studios in the Pacific Northwest, and will talk your ear off about Half-Life mods, Talking Heads or Twin Peaks if you let him.

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