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"Keep it clean... or he will"
―Combine propaganda poster[src]

The Cremator,[1] also known as the Combine Janitor, is a passive enemy cut from both Half-Life 2 and Half-Life: Alyx. The Cremator is mainly known as "A Combine janitor of sorts", and was originally intended to remove corpses from the city streets by burning them, clean up Wasteland trains coming into the city from any wildlife that might have held on to it during the journey by exterminating them,[1] and patrol some parts of the Wasteland, such as train Depots.[2] It was also apparently supposed to occasionally fight the player. The Cremator is somewhat notable as it was an enemy the developers were very attached to, to the point that references to it remain in the final game and the idea of re-introducing it into the canon Half-Life universe was toyed with during development on Half-Life: Alyx almost twenty years later.


  • The Cremator was to be some kind of janitor, breathing heavily at almost all times —resulting in a rather dark ambience around, alerting anyone in a radius of its presence[3], it was mainly to be seen disposing of dead bodies through the use of its Immolator —a large plasma thrower capable of spraying a green beam, which would disintegrate organic matter upon contact.[1] It was intended for the player to obtain an Immolator, which would have been effective against organic enemies.
  • Cremator heads were to be constructed by Children in the Cremator Factory located in the Combine Factories area in City 17.[1][2] It is therefore unknown to what extent the Cremator was to be transhuman or if it was to be transhuman at all, since while it appears to have at least human arms and hands (although with only four fingers), the original human was probably beheaded at some point. It also has a sphere located on its belly, which the Immolator would be connected to. The rest of the process of the preparation of Cremator units was apparently not to be seen.
    • The player was also to be able to pick up Cremator heads and throw them at enemies, as part of the Brickbat weapon.[2][3]
  • Although the Cremator's NPC has no AI (no coding related to it can be found in the leaked source code), no clear fight animations and was mostly intended to clean the streets, sound files indicate that it was to notice the player,[3] ruling out the possibility of the Cremator being more of a dynamic prop than a real NPC, like the Boid in Half-Life. Another sound file indicates it was to be seen dying, indicating it was to be fought and killed by the player or the rebels, allowing the player to use its weapon and pick up its head to throw it at enemies.


Cremator 039 booth cremators4

The Cremator in the WC mappack map "cremator_039.vmf", with the Combine Door Tower and barricade behind.

Several WC mappack maps, such as "cremator_street02.vmf" or "cremator_039.vmf," feature areas of the American-like City 17 of the first concepts where some Cremator tests were conducted by the development team.

The map "cremator_street02.vmf" involves a run-down area in fire with two Cremators, while "cremator_039.vmf" involves a normal area with Cremator squads protected by Metrocops and a brick tunnel filled with wrecked cars, Manhacks and Ceiling Turrets, all attacking the player.

Another map, "wasteland_depot.vmf", last edited August 2001 and set in the Wasteland, features an early Depot with, among other things, a Cremator waiting for the player on the train platform. Another Wasteland map, "toxic_pit03.vmf", last edited June 2001, consists of a small valley filled with Headcrabs, and several Cremators stationed above.[2]

Behind the scenes[]

Cremator head jar BME

A Cremator head in the jar in Eli's lab in Half-Life 2.

Cremator head screen

On a computer screen.

The Cremator was cut as an enemy from the retail version of Half-Life 2, but as an Easter egg in Eli Vance's lab at Black Mesa East there is a Cremator's head apparently preserved in formaldehyde (methanal) on the table located to the right of the teleport. Eli mentions that Alyx brought it in, stating "We're still not sure what that does. Alyx brings in the strangest things". A nearby computer screen with some sort of scan of the Cremator head on it also suggests it is studied by Eli or someone else (it is also featured in the Half-Life 2: Deathmatch map "dm_steamlab"). This object is missing from earlier previews of the Eli's Lab sequence, suggesting it was added late in development, after the Cremator was cut.

An updated version of the Cremator was planned to appear early on in the development of Half-Life: Alyx, once again to be used to clean-up Xen fauna that occupied City 17. The concept of Xen wildlife taking over the city was used in the Quarantine Zone, but the Cremator was cut from the final game and its role was given to the Combine Hazmat Workers – however, these are never encountered alive in-game, instead only appearing as zombies or corpses.[4]


Concept art[]



List of appearances[]


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