Half-Life: Alyx is a game I think about revisiting near constantly, and a short machinima called Protectors makes a strong case for finally doing so. It's six minutes long, beautifully animated, and embedded below.
No spoilers, in part because there's very little to spoil, but to give you a sense of what to expect: Protectors tells a very brief story about some City 17 citizens taking refuge in a dank hideout, and some Combine soldiers who investigate said hideout.
Protectors was created by TheParryGod, who has several other Half-Life machinima shorts on his YouTube channel.
"The idea for this project has been sitting and morphing in my head since about 2011 when I first got the taste for video editing, stitching together clips from Garry’s Mod in glorious 360p," reads the description under the video. "Also, I wanted to clarify that about 75% of the character animations you see are presets created by Valve. I only modify and stitch these together to form a coherent narrative."
I've played Half-Life: Alyx from start to finish and loved it, but I spent a lot of my time with it being afraid, shot at, and hiding behind low walls. There was very little time to appreciate Valve's animation, or anything other than the low wall textures.
Conversely, Protectors gives you ample time to see how wonderful it is. The way people shift their weight from foot to foot, or stretch their fingers while holding a weapon; it all seems absurdly detailed and natural. TheParryGod deserves a lot of credit also for the way the short is shot, edited, lit, and for whatever 25% of the animation Valve didn't do. It's all lovely stuff.