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Turtle Rock Studios delves into its archives and produces the unreleased Left 4 Dead campaign.

Left 4 Dead is thought of as a Valve classic – it’s up there with Half-Life and Portal, and meets that other crucial Valve criteria of not having a third instalment – but it didn’t begin life that way. If you’re not familiar with the game’s history, here’s a quick refresher.

Turtle Rock Studios were developing Left 4 Dead as early as mid-2005. In 2008, the year of the game’s eventual release, the studio was purchased by Valve, along with the rights to Left 4 Dead. Following their acquisition, Turtle Rock were rebadged as Valve South, and Left 4 Dead was released in November 2008 under the Valve South banner. Barely 18 months passed before Valve shuttered Valve South, but they got what they wanted from the deal: some of the staff from Turtle Rock Studios, and the rights to the Left 4 Dead franchise. Valve very kindly relinquished rights to the studio’s name, however, and Turtle Rock was re-founded in 2010.

By all accounts, the game originally in development by Turtle Rock was different to the game Valve South eventually shipped. Not by any great degree – the four survivors and core gameplay mechanics remained the same – but the original campaign differs from the released game, along with some smaller details like different classes of enemy.

Now you can play the original, unreleased Left 4 Dead campaign – titled ‘Dam It’ – thanks to the kind folks at Turtle Rock Studios. They’re obviously having a bit of a clear out, or something, presumably in between the now-completed Evolve and whatever their next project may be.

At least Valve are usually pretty good about this sort of thing; had a former Nintendo subsidiary released the code for an unreleased Mario title, for example, that would be expunged from the internet before you can say “copyright takedown notice”.

You can find details on where to download the files, and how to install and play the unfinished Left 4 Dead campaign here. And when we say unfinished, we mean it – there are swathes of the level that simply aren’t done – but it’s still an interesting look at what might have been.

Thanks, Kotaku.

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