The Let's Play Archive

The Dark Half

by big duck equals goose

Part 6: About The Story

I just wanted to talk to you about The Dark Half before I finish this.

The Dark Half is one of my favorite King books. It's a decent mystery read with a touch of supernatural horror that I think makes the first time reading the book pretty gripping and interesting.

The PC game on the other hand is a mixed bag. The UI, programming, and pretty much everything about it is terrible. With the source material the developers had they could have done a decent adventure game that had you feeling dread as this unstoppable killer keeps setting you up and only by intelligent playing could you solve the mystery and clear Thad's name. Instead, what you got is giving eyeballs to police and taking dog whistles from vases.

One of the main problems of the game is that it is missing this guy.

Alan Pangborn is a recurring character in King's novels and a pretty interesting guy to read about. In The Dark Half he is investigating the case and while things start off rough, Thad and him eventually become friends and have a buddy/buddy relationship while trying to figure out who the real killer is. In the book Alan isn't some moron who is bad at his job like the cops in this game, but instead actually goes out of his way in every possible extent to close the case and bring those who are responsible to justice.

Instead you get black/white cop who fall for old cartoon tricks. While they are cause of 90% of the deaths/loses in the game, they never seem like a enclosing force that is bearing down pressure upon the player. Instead, you get this almost goofy comical setup in every scene involving Thad and them.

Another problem is that George doesn't seem menacing or interesting in this. What are his motivations? His Goals? Why does he exist? Well, shit, the game won't tell you that but in the book/movie it's pretty decently explained. In the PC game it's just George going around killing people for some vague reason in bland cutscenes that couldn't shock a five year old. That evil man with the evil car doing evil things? He's just kind of annoying and lets you take pictures of him while he laughs with one sound clip that sounds like a horse with a mouth full of marbles getting punched in the throat.

The few minor good parts about this game is that SOME (not all!) of the art is decent and that unlike most Sierra-ish games at the time it's hard to be walking dead. By either mistake, bad ideas, or sheer luck it does deviant enough from the source material so readers of the book can't just breeze past the game. Another thing that was pretty rad was that the time this came out, you could get a version that came with a paperback of the book. I guess one could say it was also another way for the programmers to be like "Hey, yeah our game doesn't tell shit, but you got a fucking book! The story is right there!"

Quite possibly is the biggest problem is the tone of the game. In the book it's this a chaotic hectic tragedy as Thad's life is ruined and comes to a bittersweet conclusion. In the game, it's nothing like that. Hell, the end I'm pretty sure is just a gigantic fuck you to King and everyone who enjoyed The Dark Half.

I would go point into point by how the book/movie differ from the game, but I would hate to spoil anything for those interested in reading or watching The Dark Half. Even if you are not much of a King fan, if you like mystery it is worth checking out.