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They Hunger is a single player horror mod for Half-Life developed by Black Widow Games. It is divided into three chapters, which were distributed on the internet over a span of three years. Current distributions of the game include all three chapters.
They Hunger focuses on a small American town in the 1950s, where the player is an author that has moved to the town to get inspiration for his new book.
The player is driving in the town, when the radio station warns citizens of a 'strange atmospheric phenomena'. Moments after this warning, a lightning bolt hits the player's car, causing it to crash into a lake below. The player fights for his life against zombies. After fighting through the country side, he manages to get to the small town, but learns that it is overrun as well. However, he is captured by the evil sheriff and is nearly killed when a non-zombified police officer rescues him. The player then fights through the town and ends up at Dr. Franklin's Asylum, the nexus of the zombie outbreak. After meeting Dr. Franklin and his army of new zombies, called Zorks, the player nearly sacrifices himself to destroys the asylum and Dr. Franklin, who is still in the building when it is destroyed. However, he wakes up in a hospital later and learns that the zombies are still spreading. He goes back to the Asylum and finishes off Dr. Franklin. Another non-zombified police officer offers to fly the player out of the city after Franklin is killed. However, while the player is flying away, the sheriff appears in a helicopter and attempts to kill them. The player kills the sheriff and manages to escape the doomed town.
One twist in the game is that the player is stripped of all their weapons at the start of each chapter, forcing the player to start from scratch. Otherwise, it plays very similar to Half-Life.
They Hunger borrows some of its art from other GoldSrc games, such as Team Fortress Classic and Counter-Strike. However, it also uses original art developed for the mod and art that was included with Half-Life, mostly the indoor textures.
In the first episode, the player takes the role of a troubled writer who has gone to a country retreat to work on his next masterpiece. However, the player soon hears news over the radio of 'strange atmospheric phenomena', and his car crashes into a lake after being hit by a lightning bolt. He escapes the lake and arrives at a mortuary chapel from a maze of catacombs. Here, he discovers the zombies attacking the town. He moves on, passing through a swamp and a volcanic rift called Devil's Rift, gaining weapons and encountering zombified policemen that are still smart enough to handle firearms. He gets to the town by commandeering a train. At the town he manages to reach the radio station seen in the intro, and manages to call the state police for help. The state police tell him to wait for them at the police station. There, he is captured by the undead sheriff Chester Rockwood, and puts him in a prison cell. Trapped, the episode ends with a zombie approaching his cell door to eat him.
They Hunger 2: Rest in Pieces
The protagonist begins the game where the last left off: unarmed and trapped, however just as the zombie is about to enter his cell the player is saved by a police officer with a rocket-equipped truck. Still unarmed, the player is forced to restock his arsenal himself (though it is possible to re-enter the police station and regain several lost weapons).
The player soon after enters the sewers. There he encounters bizarre aquatic creatures and encounters several state police officers who have been zombified after arriving at the town. The player later makes it to the Rockwell water treatment plant, and it becomes apparent that the army has taken notice of the problem and had started sending troops in to take care of the zombies, though their operation is failing.
A major part of this episode is spent exploring the 'Rivendale Asylum for the Criminally Insane' operated by the mad Dr. Franklin, creator of the undead horde. Once inside the player meets Alfred, Dr. Franklin's former assistant, who tells the player that it was he and Dr. Franklin that discovered strange things in the local water supply that bring anyone alive or dead to a state of half-life. He tells the player that Dr. Franklin was trying to figure out how it was causing the zombies but ended up being infected too.
The player then enters Dr. Franklin's underground laboratory where he witnesses several of the doctor's horrid experiments, such as dismembered heads being kept alive. Soon the player is forced to fight an army of undead Frankenstein-like monsters brought to life through Franklin's machine. Afterward Dr. Franklin is chased out of the area by one of his own monsters. The player also encounters reanimated skeletons that can shoot bolts of electricity.
The episode ends with the player attempting to escape the asylum, only to set it aflame. The player is caught in a massive explosion which ends the episode.
They Hunger 3: Rude Awakening
The final episode opens as the player awaken to find himself in Rockwell community hospital. A little exploration reveals that it too had been overrun by zombies before the player woke up. After the player leaves the hospital, he covers several miles of open countryside on foot and arrives at a small farm which has been overrun by undead. Besides the farmers most of the local cattle and other animals have also been infected and prove to be quite a danger. He also passes a Stonehenge-like structure on the way.
Eventually the player returns to the now-destroyed asylum. However the player is again captured and taken back to the countryside at the Stonehenge-like structure. Here the player witnesses Sheriff Rockwood giving a speech to the zombie hordes which is soon broken up when the army attacks. The player escapes and retraces his steps back to the farm train yard, along the way witnessing the fact that the army is clearly overwhelmed by the zombie threat. After boarding a rail car he once again arrives at the asylum. There he meets Deputy Jerry Hoobs, who has a plan to get himself and the player out of the town with a helicopter. However, he can't open the hangar door, so the player must fight through the asylum, which is now overrun with zombified soldiers, to meet him on the other side. On the way to the hangar, Sheriff Rockwood and Dr. Franklin (who survived the asylum's explosion and has been rebuilt as a half-zombie, half-machine cyborg) see the player in the asylum and trigger the alarm. The player manages to reach the helicopter and escape with Hoobs before the zombified security could stop him.
The game reaches its climax as the player and the deputy are forced to fight the cyborg Dr. Franklin at the asylum's train yard. After the doctor's defeat the player is pursued by Sheriff Rockwood in another helicopter with a mounted mini-gun. The player defeats the sheriff and sends him plummeting toward the lake below before exploding. The game ends with the player and the deputy flying off into the sunset.
As in most Half-Life games, the player is never seen. He is a male writer, visiting the town to relax and get inspiration for his next book.Sheriff Chester Rockwood
Rockwood is a slightly overweight man; he wears sunglasses and a 10-gallon hat, and he carries his trusty Magnum pistol with him at all times (although he is never seen using it). He was near his re-election campaign before the zombies attacked. Early on in the game the player learns that Rockwood disregarded the odd reports about zombies as "just hearsay and rumors, likely spread out by his rivals to undermine his position in the upcoming elections." Rockwood disappeared while investigating a disturbance at the city morgue, presumably leading to his zombification. He works with Dr. Franklin, even in undeath, as he is seen many times through glass and other obstacles talking to the doctor, planning the next stage of the zombie attacks or conversing with his fellow zombies. He dies when the player shoots down his helicopter. His model is a retextured G-Man model.Dr. Franklin
Franklin is a scientist in biology as well as the administrator of "Rivendale Asylum for the Criminally Insane." He appears to have had an accident in the past which has caused damage to the right side of his face. He only has one working eye and a smirk in the right side of his mouth. When the player meets Franklin for the first time it is revealed that he has long felt a calling to re-animate the dead. He was friends with Sheriff Rockwood before the Sheriff became a zombie; they still work together. After the explosion at the end of Episode 2, he is rebuilt as a cyborg, with his left eye, right arm and leg all mechanical. He also wields a Hivehand-like weapon in his right arm that he uses against the player during his fight. Franklin's past — with his attempts to re-animate the dead and subsequent exile from the scientific community — may be a reference to Dr. Herbert West from H. P. Lovecraft's Herbert West, Re-Animator. His model is a retexture of a Black Mesa scientist model.Deputy Jerry Hoobs
A Sherrif's deputy, Hoobs is heard on two tape recorders before appearing in person near the end of the game. He tried to reason with Sheriff Rockwood but failed and barely escaped the police station. He stayed at the hospital for a while before asking people to come with him to escape the city on foot. After he left the hospital, he left another tape recorder at the cattle ranch. This recording said the Pentagon had authorized the Sherman Scorched Earth policy. At the remains of the ruined asylum, the player meets him in person. They must work together to escape Rockwell and stop the zombie horde. His model is a retexture of a Black Mesa Security Officer Barney model.Alfred
A relatively minor character, Alfred was the assistant for Dr. Franklin during his scientific experiments. He only appears in the 'Rest in Pieces' chapter, discovered after opening the front door of the asylum for the player. Alfred dispenses some exposition as to the beginning stages of the zombie outbreak and of Dr. Franklin - who he describes as a "good man" - and allows the player to progress by opening another locked door. He serves no use afterwards. He can be seen in Episode 3, dieing with several other civilians in a furnace. His model is a retextured Gordon Freeman model.
- Alien Grunt - Has a new model (appearance resembles a bulky human-like creature with stitches) and does not have a Hivehand. Called a Zork.
- Vortigaunt - Appears as a skeleton. Called a Kelly. Smaller "baby" variants appear in episode three.
- Headcrab - Appears in three forms; a re-textured version of the Half-Life headcrab, a mutated chicken, and as a dismembered hand.
- Houndeye - Appears as a dog and lacks the "sound wave" attack.
- Zombie - Appears with a variety of new models, male and female.
- HECU Soldiers - Re-textured to look either undead, or alive.
- Black Mesa Security Force - Re-textured to look like either undead police officers, or gray undead versions of the Black Mesa security guard. All but two of them are hostile to the player.
- Panthereye - Re-textured as a zombie cattle.
Half of the weapons in They Hunger are taken directly from Half-Life while the other weapons are new, though all of the weapons from Half-Life have new models or textures.
- Old Weapons
- Crowbar - Uses the Team Fortress Classic Umbrella model.
- Glock 17 - Retextured to look like a Beretta 92. Alt fire switches between the semi-automatic mode (which is represented by having the Glock 17's unused silencer on the gun) and automatic mode (which is represented with the gun having no silencer on it).
- .357 Magnum - Unchanged.
- Submachine Gun - appears as a Heckler & Koch G3 and a faster rate of fire compared to the Submachine Gun.
- Shotgun - Appears as a Mossberg 500.
- Grenade - Appears as a bundle of TNT sticks.
- New Weapons
- Sniper Rifle - The Sniper Rifle is a powerful weapon and is the only weapon in the game that can zoom in. If fired unscoped, it has very high recoil, but is semi-automatic and has no recoil if fired scoped. Its five round magazine means the player will have to reload often. Its model in Episodes 1 and 2 is the Team Fortress Classic Sniper Rifle, while the Episode 3 Sniper Rifle is a Heckler & Koch G36.
- Wrench - The Wrench is a faster Crowbar. Its view model is TFC's Wrench, while its worldmodel is a reskinned version of the TFC Backpack. It is found in Episode 2 and 3.
- Shovel - Essentially a Crowbar with a new model. It is found in Episodes 2 and 3.
- TEC-9 - A slow firing submachine gun that has large recoil, but does more damage than the Submachine Gun. It is found in Episodes 2 and 3.
- Taurus PT145 - A pistol with a ten round magazine. This weapon is only found in Episode 3.
- Flamethrower - Technically a direct copy of TFC's Flamethrower, but uses the Gluon Gun's model.
- Portable Medkit - A portable Medkit that the player can use on himself. This weapon's model comes from the TFC portable Medkit. It is only found near the end of Episode 3.
- Minigun - A powerful, multi-barreled weapon. This weapon's model comes from the TFC Minigun. Uses the same ammo that the Glock 17 and Submachine Gun use. It is only found in Episode 3.
They Hunger: Lost Souls
A They Hunger game using the Source engine was under development. The announced title was 'They Hunger: Lost Souls'. It supposedly entered its final stage of development in 2006. However, little information has been released about the mod since then and as a result the mod's profile on Mod DB has been classified as ceased development.
- Though Black Widow Games claimed the game is set in the 1950's, the player is seen using a TEC-9 and a Glock 17, which suggests the 1980's. However, several other weapons are inconsistent with this estimate: in the second and third chapters the player uses a gun that appears to be a G36 (1990) and what appears to be a Taurus PT24/7 (2004) (the alternate pistol is referred to as weapon_taurus in the console). The Glock in Lost Souls has been replaced with an M1911, among other changes, in order to fix this error.
- The final fight with the sheriff's helicopter at the end of Chapter 3 was originally so hard that the player needed to use his entire supply of pistol rounds, TEC-9 rounds, G36 rounds and a large portion of his shotgun shells to destroy it. Given the fact that the sheriff could break most of the player's cover, this made the fight nearly impossible without cheating. After several months, an official patch was released in which the health of the helicopter was lowered to a more reasonable amount.
- A They Hunger-themed deathmatch mod was also released.