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Video Game / They Hunger

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They Hunger, created by Black Widow Games, is a action horror / survival horror modification for Half-Life. In this three chapter adventure, you must fight your way through hordes of you guessed it, the undead, and try to uncover the mysteries underlying in the crisis of a small county town. It's one of the better known GoldSrc mods, alongside Counter-Strike, The Hidden: Source, Sven Co-op , Gunman Chronicles, Redemption, The Specialists, and so on.

A best-selling author, name not given, drives through the countryside of Rockwell. He's been having writer's block with his latest work, and hopes that his retreat will give him some ideas. Unfortunately, shortly on the way out, lightning strikes his car and causes him to crash into a small lake, almost leaving him to drown.

Soon, after escaping the lake through a drainage pipe, then a sewer that leads to the catacombs, and finally a pathway to a seemingly abandoned chapel, he eventually realizes the dead have somehow risen and that they hunger... for human flesh. The writer is forced to survive a land that's bit by bit being taken by the zombie horde, and now must find a way out of Rockwell; along the way, he slowly discovers that things aren't as they seemed originally about this growing menace.


This game mod provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital Awakening: Episode 3 begins this way, though you have no clue until you find the nurse who turns around to show off her mutilated back, and during the meantime before the player got there, was eating a baby.
  • Absurdly-Spacious Sewer: After escaping the police station in Episode 2, the player must go through one.
  • Advancing Wall of Doom: Towards the end of Episode 2, the player has to seal a boiler shut to advance. The boiler predictably explodes, and the player must rush through the level as fast as they can to get out, or die a horrible flaming death as the fire spreads through the asylum. Impressive, for a GoldSrc mod.
  • All Just a Dream: Subverted. At the very end of the second episode, you hear a voice saying "Wake up, honey, you're having a nightmare." Turns out it was a nurse who said that. Who later on becomes undead.
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  • Always Night: It is unknown exactly how much time passes between the episodes. One thing for certain, is that the sun only rises at the end of the third episode.
  • America Saves the Day: Subverted. Another survivor says he helped a dying Army officer out... only to find that the Pentagon is trying to destroy the whole place. Not to mention the military is being overrun.
  • Apocalyptic Log: You find several recordings left behind by the scientist Dr. Franklin, sheriff Chester Rockwood, and various police and asylum personnel, detailing the backstory.
  • Artificial Limbs: Dr. Franklin survives death a second time, and comes back as a boss at the end of the Asylum in the third episode.
  • Artifact Mook: The electricity-shooting skeletons. The first one is encountered in a laboratory where it is brought to life by being electrocuted, which does much to explain why it attacks by zapping you with bolts of lightning. But then you continue to encounter electric skeletons for the rest of the game, all over the place.
  • Author Stand-In: The Programmer Einar Saukas has his own office in Dr. Franklin's asylum. Some of the mod creators cameo as floating heads in his laboratory or as part of a meat-cooking machine in the final episode.
  • Back from the Dead: All the zombies, obviously. Dr. Franklin however, survives death a second time and becomes a cyborg.
  • Badass Bookworm: The main character is a writer surviving the zombie apocalypse. He could certainly make an awesome autobiography out of it.
  • Bag of Spilling: Between each episode, and even halfway through the third one. At least each opportunity leads to a few additional new guns. All of them have justification (getting imprisoned in the second, put in a hospital in the third, getting captured... again... halfway through).
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Sheriff Chester Rockwood and Dr. Franklin. They were friends before they became infected, and they still are friends.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • The first real introduction of the military has them "rescuing" you from semi-intelligent zombies about to ritually slaughter you. However, they're trying to kill you as well. As time goes on, it becomes obvious that their job wasn't to save people, and a great number of them have also become infected.
    • Played straight with a random deputy with a rocket launcher-equipped jeep who saves you in the second episode.
  • Car Fu: Done by the player with the Train and later a police car in the first episode. Done by the zombies as well.
  • Cavalry Betrayal: See above. Justified as the military wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a normal human, or a smart infected zombie pretending to be a human, as Dr. Franklin shows.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: This is Sheriff Rockwood's most defining trait as he drops these even while casually talking to Dr. Franklin. Then there's his line when he goes after you in a helicopter.
    You ramp-bastard, son of a yankee bitch! You might've got the doc but I'm gonna kick your ass!
  • Collapsing Lair: The player eventually destroys Dr. Franklin's laboratory and burns down his asylum in episode two.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: Jerry Hoobs constantly nags the player during the final battle with Chester with the words "Come on! Shoot that bastard!" Even if the player dies, he won't stop! As long as the player doesn't load an earlier save and remain in the P.O.V. Cam, Chester flies around the player indefinitely with Jerry's voice in the background.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: As long as the player isn't actually touching the hot areas around Devil's Rift or what remains of the Asylum, they're perfectly fine.
  • Conveyor Belt o' Doom: In the third episode. By the push of a button, the player can send the creators of They Hunger and Alfred to their death. Don't get too distracted watching their demise, as a zombie walks into the room when it hears the noises of the machinery.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: The TEC-9; a one-handed submachine gun that does more damage than the G3 battle rifle, and has a burst-fire mode. On the downside, it has much more recoil and a slower firing rate as well. Getting in firefights with the armed zombies on medium and hard becomes near suicidal due to close range being needed for it to be effective. Like the shotgun it is most useful taking down the common zombies with a few bursts in their heads.
  • Cool Train: In the first episode. You get to control it, and it even makes train noises!
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Alfred explains to the player that Dr. Franklin originally discovered something in the waters of Rockwell which could bring anyone to a state of half-life, and Franklin's tampering with it led to the outbreak. But even though the Doctor performed his experiments, neither he or anyone else know exactly what that "something" is or how it functions.
  • Cue the Sun: At the end of the third episode, after the final fight in the air is over, the helicopter with the deputy and the player flies off into the sunrise.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: Sheriff Chester. An official mod was eventually released that halved his health and he still took forever to kill.
  • Death of a Child: In the Hospital, a baby is heard crying, until it abruptly stops. The player cannot get to the nursery immediately, and when he does... there is a pile of bibs in the beds for newborns. Later in the mountains, the player has to kill a resurrected family, including three baby sized skeletons.
  • Dem Bones: Resurrected skeletons that can talk. And shoot lightning bolts.
  • Die, Chair, Die!: Expect to destroy any crate you see for supplies; this is a mod for the game that started the fascination with crates in video games, after all.
  • Enemy Chatter: The Zombies, with their standard desire for brains and flesh. The more intelligent ones with weapons, however, are quiet. As you hear moans such as "Why do we hunger...?", "Freeesh meattt...", "Who goes there...?", "Flesh creatures...", and "JOIN US!" It's worse in the third episode, where you wander through the ruins of the Asylum and hear "Flesh creatures!" with no enemies around.
  • Episodic Game: They Hunger was distributed by PC Gamer in three installments from 1999 to 2001 from They Hunger, to They Hunger 2: Rest in Pieces, and then finally the final episode They Hunger 3: Rude Awakening.
  • Exploring the Evil Lair: The player wanders through the Asylum, and down into Dr. Franklin's underground laboratory.
  • Expy: With all of his casual swearing, Sheriff Rockwood is definitely inspired by Eric Cartman.
  • Face-Revealing Turn: Invoked in the first Armed Infected Cop encounter, as the first one encountered is facing away from the player looking the same as its non-infected counterpart, only to turn and attack at the last second.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Some of Dr. Franklin's experiments in his laboratory:
    • The decapitated heads held alive in an aquarium.
    • There is also a man impaled on a meathook, like a worm, in the freezer just behind said aquarium. He should be dead but somehow isn't, and is screaming and endlessly trying to get off; who knows how long he's been there. You can thankfully put him out of his misery, though.
  • Final Boss: The final boss fight is against Sheriff Chester Rockwood, and to escalate things, both of you are in two separate helicopters trying to take each other down.
  • Flunky Boss: Dr. Franklin is assisted by a policeman using a mounted machinegun, while Chester has infected soldiers dropping from a helicopter early in the final battle.
  • From Bad to Worse: Each episode. The infection is not limited to humans, so there was a larger variety of enemies in the later episodes.
  • Gatling Good: One minigun is found in the third episode.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Several Ichthyosaurs appear with no warning throughout the trilogy in bodies of deep water, complete with no model edit to even fit the context of the mod.
    • The giant Bullsquid. You encounter it at the bottom of a lake in episode 3 while traveling through the countryside, and you don't have to kill it, nor is there any explanation or prior warning that it's there. Another one also briefly appeared in episode 2 in the sewers, still with no explanation or warning.
  • Guns in Church: A silenced 9mm is found at the dead body of a priest, for some reason. Next to the rope that rings the church bell and unlocks a secret dynamite stash. For some reason.
  • Hellish Copter: The police and military copters fought against in the mod.
  • Helping Hands: A lot of them in the Hospital and the Laboratory, and they do actually help each other, by trying to kill you.
  • Heroic Mime: The writer you play as doesn't speak a single word in the game.
  • Hidden Supplies: For some reason, there is a secret dynamite stash in the church.
  • Hope Spot: You finally get to the police station, but then it turns out that all of the police are infected, too.
    • When you're in the Hospital in episode 3, it seems to be leading to the idea that the previous events of the last two episodes were just nightmares. Then you find out that isn't the case, as the nurses turn out to be infected.
  • Horror Hunger: The last recorded message by Dr. Franklin has him mentioning that he is infected, and the symptoms are slowly getting worse. The final tape even has him shouting that he can "feel their hunger".
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Even more egregious this time as you don't have a heavily engineered protective suit to explain how the writer can carry so much ammo and weapons.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: The skeletons from later parts sometimes mutter, "...Cold..."
  • It's Raining Men: Being in such remote wilderness, it's the only manner the military could drop men in effectively.
  • Jump Scare: A few yet subtle ones are in the episodes, but they're few and far between.
    • Most memorable one is at the beginning, before the zombies come and when the player walks to the church. He is walking through a cave when a skull rolls in front of him, as if it moved by itself or an unseen force...
  • Hollywood Silencer: The first weapon found is a silenced 9mm pistol.
  • Howling to the Night: Wolves can be heard howling in the wilderness through all the episodes.
  • Just in Time: The first episode ends with the player captured at the police station, and with a zombie opening the cell door to eat him. The second episode starts only a few seconds afterwards with the zombie already in the cell, not yet focusing on the player. However, a non-infected police officer shoots a rocket at the station from the outside, which creates a hole in the wall allowing the player to escape.
  • Kill 'Em All: The few people you do meet end up dying by the third episode, with the exception of you and Jerry Hoobs.
  • Kill It with Fire: The Flamethrower. You also burn down the Asylum. Not all of it burned down, however.
  • Large and in Charge: Sheriff Chester. No other police officer is as overweight as him, and this was before Otis was first introduced.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Devil's Rift is an active volcano that the player must navigate while dodging lava, fire, and using steam vents to reach inaccessible areas.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: It is used to resurrect dead, create new life, and also used in a attempt to kill the player, in an obvious Shout-Out to Frankenstein.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Explosive weapons cause them, of course. Running over the zombies with a car in the town also instantly turn them into gibs.
  • Made of Explodium: The helicopters, in the weirdest way possible; they explode almost immediately if the pilot dies.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Franklin. He had a huge interest in re-animating the dead a long time before the first game's events. However, his alive and uninfected assistant says that he was a good man until he got infected.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Underground, conveniently below Dr. Franklin's Asylum.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Dr. Franklin and the Sheriff are the only zombified men with personalities.
  • No Name Given: The player character.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The first areas of the Asylum of Dr. Franklin. There are no enemies there, of all places, and it builds tension the deeper you go.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Only Dr. Franklin's assistant Alfred and the military call them "zombies".
  • Ornamental Weapon: Sheriff Chester has a revolver he never uses. It is possible it became this trope when he got infected, seeing as he became their ally and all.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Most zombies are of the B-movieish type, but people who have only recently been infected can still use their firearms and their knowledge they had prior. For instance, you learn that they can fly helicopters.
  • Papa Wolf: The sheriff loves his zombie "children".
  • Parasol of Pain: The first weapon picked up is an umbrella, taking the place of the crowbar.
  • People Farms: Instead of killing all the uninfected inmates in the Asylum, they are all locked in their cells instead.
  • Pyromaniac: One is encountered in the Asylum. Before he gives out, he rants that the whole place should burn down as in his own words, there is "no salvation". At the hands of the player, it indeed burns down.
  • Raising the Steaks: Rabid dogs roam throughout the first two episodes, and the third episode had the player visit a farm with zombie chickens and zombie bulls.
  • Revenant Zombie: Though it doesn't apply to all of them. The leaders of the horde, Rockwood and Franklin, retain most of their human selves. Zombie cops, guards, and soldiers use their respective weaponry and behave identically to their human counterparts.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: It kills every zombie in one shot to the head, and it has good accuracy.
  • Right Behind Me: Near the end of the game, the player walks up to a window and listens in on a conversation between the Sheriff and the resurrected cyborg Dr.Franklin where both of them complain about how your progress has set their plans back greatly and how difficult it has been to locate you. Then Franklin sees you in the window right behind Rockwood. Cue shocked reaction and alarm and a demand to bring him the head of the guard who let you in.
  • Rousing Speech: Sheriff Chester gives one to the zombies while the player is captured in the third episode.
  • Schizo Tech: Word of God says the game takes place in The '50s. That doesn't explain the modern-looking helicopters, modern camouflage on the soldiers, night-vision, G3s with grenade launchers, TEC-9s, and a futuristic flamethrower. Was to be fixed in the sequel.
  • Screaming Woman: In the third episode, a woman is about to be cooked over a giant fire pit by the zombies. You can't save her.
  • Shoot Out the Lock: In the first level there is a locked door. The player must find a weapon in order to be able to break the padlock open. The 9mm pistol, dynamite, or the umbrella is up to you to break it open.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Take a guess what BMRF stands fornote .
    • The hands are an ambiguous one to Blood, which also featured walking hands eager to invade your personal space.
    • The two chatting zombie scientists in the cattle (and human) processing plant mention Sheriff's final solution to the civilian question. Yikes!!
  • Shovel Strike: One of your melee weapons is the shovel.
  • Sniper Rifle: With a Nightvision Scope!
  • Splash Damage: The dynamite and the grenade launcher mounted on the submachine gun can kill several zombies at once.
  • Spooky Painting: There are many paintings of Vladimir the Impaler in the mod. One in episode 1 has a Headcrab break out of it.
  • Stock Ness Monster: There is a giant Bullsquid living in one of the lakes in Rockwell. It's unknown if its existence and size has something to do with the undead infection going around.
  • Take Over the World: Dr. Franklin and Sheriff Chester decide to spread their hunger to the masses.
  • The Grotesque: Dr. Franklin. He had his half-face deformation a long time before his zombification, he was considered crazy by other scientists, and his only friend was the sheriff, Chester Rockwood.
  • The '50s
  • Teleporting Keycard Squad: Pretty egregious here, where zombies appear in mazes after you made sure they weren't there (and if you're quick enough, you can see them appear out of thin air).
  • They Called Me Mad!: Dr. Franklin says this word for word, replacing "mad" with "crazy".
  • Two-Faced: Dr. Franklin. He had the deformity before the infection, however.
  • Undead Child: The baby-sized skeletons encountered in Episode 3.
  • Unusable Enemy Equipment: The weapon Dr. Franklin uses against the player is a modified Hivehand.
  • Videogame Flamethrowers Suck: Subverted; hilariously, the flamethrower can't set anything on fire, but it can deal a good amount of damage.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Jump into the fire to collect ammo for the revolver!
  • Where It All Began: You visit the asylum where Doctor Franklin first worked and began his experiments (eventually turning it into a zombie stronghold), and the dig site where Franklin was first infected.
  • Welcome to Corneria: Jerry Hoobs really want you to "shoot that bastard!" during the last boss fight.
  • Wrench Whack: The second melee weapon found is a wrench.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Ultimately Averted thanks to the location and the player's own actions; while the Zombies were very effective at taking over the area and they were even able to defeat and turn most of the police and military sent to contain them, an overheard conversation in the third game reveals that the zombie forces were starting to suffer losses from their own forces literally falling apart, and thanks to the player's efforts in destroying most if not all of the intelligent zombies, whatever plans they had were ruined.
  • Zombie Infectee: The sheriff and his subordinates. Oh, and Doctor Franklin.
  • Zombie Gait: Actually subverted as a minor scare in the first episode — cops who are only barely infected don't have the distinct zombie animation and can only be identified by the wounds on their textures.