The Best Undead Slaying Video Games of All Time: Chapter II
They Hunger requires a copy of Half-Life to play.
13. They Hunger
They Hunger was perhaps one of the greatest mods ever made for the original Half-Life. Made by Neil Manke of PC Gamer, and Black Widow Games, It was a trilogy of freely available mods released over three years, which told the story of a writer who drove into the country to work on his next book. However he ended up in the town of Rockwell that was eventually overrun by zombies. The once peaceful inhabitants were transformed into walking dead seemingly overnight.
Almost the entire arsenal from Half-Life was changed, and likely one of the best weapons was the machine pistol. In place of the headcrab zombies you had mutated people to mow down with your guns, and probably one of the oddest of these undead was the headless zombie. I mean, we know that a headless zombie doesn’t really make sense, does it? They have to have a head and a brain to function, as far as I know – even if they are stupid, shuffling sh!theads… most of the time.
It was also kind of odd that headcrabs were in the series, but didn’t play the same role as they did in the original Half-Life.
Probably another cool zombie was the female “mamma zombie”, who would, in a seductive voice which was uncommon for a zombie, say things like “Come to mama.” Cold shower needed after that one. I know; sad.
The vortigaunts were replaced by skeletons, but their attack was practically the same: be irritating and shoot lightning bolts at you while your back is turned.
Not all the enemies are unintelligent however. There’s Sheriff Rockwood, who is a “boss” in the game, along with Dr. Franklin – the man behind the zombification of the town. You’ll also find a couple of characters who will assist you during the game. There are also state police officers, who despite being zombies, can still use guns to harm you. Among some of the only living people in the game are the soldiers, who eventually come to try to stop the madness that has spread by killing everybody in sight – including you. Eventually they too become zombies though as they are overwhelmed by the undead masses.
They Hunger was supposed to receive a Source Engine remake, but this project was long dormant and eventually cancelled this year. Reasons being that Neil Manke – the man in charge of the project - became very ill. This game, called They Hunger: Lost Souls, was meant to be released as a commercially available game – probably off of Steam. But for the moment the project is dead, until someone brings it back to life.
Nocturne is a game that is also not remembered by gamers at large. Despite this, in its year of release, 1999, it managed to garner some impressive review scores.
Nocturne saw you controlling a mysterious figure known as The Stranger – an operative working for Spookhouse. The game featured four large missions which included several levels as it were, where you would take the trilby and cloak-clad paranormal investigator, sometimes with an accomplice, and try and solve whatever what going on.
Something that kind of added to the story was that the chapters in the game took place over a span of 8 years, and that they weren’t all just one big story, but four seemingly separate ones.
More often than not, in all of these missions, you would end up facing the undead in one form or another. The first mission sees you going to a village in Germany, populated by vampires and other creatures, and you end up in a castle where you’ll come up against even trickier undead who like to spawn right behind you in a tight corridor and attack you from behind.
Missions thereafter place you in a deserted town in the west overcome with zombies, an undead franken-mobster ridden Chicago, complete with Tommy gun-toting maniacs committing drive by shootings, and lastly going to back to Europe to meet up with an old Spookhouse operative who isn’t all that he seems, who claims to have a problem with the dead rising from their graves in the cemetery near by.
After the last mission, a dozen years passed. The Stranger still works for Spookhouse, and comes in the offices one night, only to see everybody in there is dead. After searching around for a while, he goes in to the briefing room, only to look at the projector that he would usually sit and look at while learning about a mission ahead. Words on it were scrawled in blood: “I finally found you, Stranger”.
Nocturne didn’t receive a sequel, but some characters did appear in other games, like the Blair Witch series. In addition to this, some plot elements, like the Yatgy Stone from Chapter 1, appear in the BloodRayne series. Both these later series were developed by Terminal Reality, the makers of Nocturne. The Stranger’s voice actor, Lynn Mathis, passed away a few years ago.
This in an oft-forgotten game from the early part of the last decade. Using an advanced Unreal Tournament (Unreal Engine 1) engine, the game placed you in the boots of the Viking known as Ragnar.
The title was pretty awesome as it was likely one of the only Viking-inspired ones I’ve ever played. It was chock-full of Norse mythology, and saw you being helped by the Norse God Odiin, as you embarked on a long and eventful journey, which eventually saw you going to Hel (which is Hell in Creationism or Christianity – whichever you prefer). Here you were up against not other Vikings like before, but the undead; skeletal warriors which kept coming at you whilst you were being toyed with by Loki, otherwise known as The Trickster; the son of Odiin.
What was cool about fighting the undead hordes in Rune was that you could take any one of a huge variety of swords you found throughout the game and literally lop their heads off. Combat in this game was one of the high points, and made up for what some call an otherwise mediocre title from the early 2000’s. I liked it however, and if it hadn’t been for a friend who let me borrow it, I would never have enjoyed this seldom brought up gem.
10. Left 4 Dead
This is the game that helped popularize the term “zombie apocalypse”. While we were waiting for Half-Life: Episode 3, Valve set to work and churned out Left 4 Dead – a multiplayer game that sees you controlling one of four characters in a bid for survival.
You have Bill, who is an old Vietnam War veteran and proposed leader of the team with the most combat experience; Francis, a member of a biker gang who likes to think that now the city is his own personal playground with no cops around; Louis, an African-American corporate type in suit and tie; and lastly Zoey, who is a young female college student, probably in her late teens or early twenties. So pretty much all the stereotypical characters you’d see in most horror movies, then.
You have to use guns and ammo, as well as pipebombs, molotov cocktails, and other stuff to fend off hordes of zombies, while using medkits and painkillers to help heal damage you sustain during combat.
But the common zombies aren’t what you should fear most. the Boomer, the Smoker and the Hunter, three less common, “special infected” zombies, are an even more lethal threat. And on top of that you have the Witch and the Tank – two rare boss zombies that will do some major damage if they get a hold of you.
The aim of the game is to use teamwork to get through a set of levels filled with zombies and finally reach the end, where you will be evacuated by a form of transport. Then you move on to the next campaign and repeat the process. These campaigns take place in cities as well as more rural areas - giving a little bit of variety to make up for the somewhat repetitive gameplay.
Left 4 Dead 2, which was released almost exactly a year later, in 2009, introduced some new special infected zombies, like the Jockey and the Charger, as well as new weapons and survivor characters to play as.
9. Clive Barker’s Undying
This game also made it onto my other list about the scariest games I’ve ever played. One doesn’t really need to debate whether it should appear on this list, seeing as it practically says it all in the title. It’s a game about the undead.
But it’s not about running around shooting zombies and so on so forth. You may come across skeletons which crawl right out from under the ground at some point – but this is a somewhat uncommon event. These mainly crop up, so to speak, in the first “episode” as it were, while on the hunt for Lizbeth Covenant – a charming young lady who likes to drink blood, command armies of the undead, and hang out in grotty crypts too while having her mother over for tea.
You take the role of Patrick Galloway, a paranormal investigator and practiser of the dark arts, whose duty it is to track down and eliminate all of his friends undead brothers and sisters. These are the chief undead you come across throughout the game. They were all cursed at one time when they were children, and later they died, becoming practically immortal.
While investigating an old abandoned church, you have to travel back in time and retrieve the Scythe of the Celt – the only really effective weapon against the Covenants.
You have to go on twisting journeys that lead through ominous otherworldly dimensions, as well as all over the Irish countryside with the aim of meeting these relatives of Jeremiah, and slaying them – hoping that this will end the family curse.
Aaron Covenant is probably the most disturbing of all these brothers and sisters – seeing as right from the beginning he haunts you in his various ghostly forms. Later on in the game you see him in the flesh, suspended in a room by chains and hooks.
But there is a nice twist at the end, when it turns out that Jeremiah is a liar, and actually wanted you to get rid of his kin for a reason: he is also undead. It turns out he was killed several years ago during the First World War while battling the T’rsanti warriors together with Patrick. Now with his family dead, he has all the power. MOHAHAHAHAHA!
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