There are things I need of you. Things you may not understand, and may not wish to do, but please, do not make the same mistake I did. My father, Howard, deserted me before I was born. I could claim the loss of my mother, and the letter I received after her funeral, blinded me for what I had to do. It would be a lie: Human nature sealed my downfall. My name is Philip. If we are lucky, then by the time you receive this, I will be dead. If fate frowns, we all perish.
~ Philip
Philip LaFresque
biographical information
Nature: Human
Nationality: English
Sex: Male
Age: Early 30s
Occupation: Physics Teacher
Status: Determinant
Voice actor: Tom Jubert (Overture)
Bram Floria (Black Plague)

Philip is the protagonist and the playable character of the Penumbra series.

Background Edit

Philip is a thirty-year-old English physics teacher. He is first met as he attends his mother's funeral where he receives a letter from his father, Howard LaFresque, who has been presumed dead for thirty years. The letter asks him to destroy several cryptic documents that are being held in a bank safe in Mayfair. Drawn by his curiosity, Philip does not heed his fathers wishes and instead decides to investigate these documents by presenting them to a linguistics expert. The expert is baffled by the content, but does manage to identify coordinates of a mine in Greenland. Philip decides to investigate the mine on his own, a choice which leads to the disastrous events of the Penumbra series.

Philip is voiced by an uncredited Tom Jubert (the script writer of the series) in the opening narration of Penumbra: Overture and is replaced by Bram Floria for the rest of the series.

Biography Edit

Penumbra: Overture Edit

Set in 2001, Philip's journey begins when he arrives at his destination in uninhabited Northern Greenland. After leaving the boat he came with, the extreme coldness forces him to find shelter. Fortunately he discovers a hatch leading to an abandoned mine, which in fact, is an entrance to the Shelter Research Facility. Unaware of this fact yet, Philip has no other option than going deeper into the mines - within it, he finds various reports as well as notes, regarding to strange events which took place at this location. An unknown author describes in one of his notes, discovering a psychoactive toxin in the spiders and deduced that, after eight months of consuming them in the mine, it was beginning to have an effect on him. Philip also begins receiving radio messages from a source, naming itself Red, a man driven insane by cabin fever. He promises that if he is found, he will give Philip answers. The game follows Philip as he descends deeper into the mines in search of Red while unravelling the secrets of the mine's previous and current inhabitants.

During the game, Philip quickly discovers that the mine is inhabited by an ecosystem of abnormally large and hostile animals: dogsgiant spiders, such as gargantuan earthworms. Abandoned outposts and various scattered papers found throughout the mine indicate that a secret society is studying some unusual phenomena inside the mines.

Following clues and solving various puzzles, Philip eventually comes to an area deep within the mine where Red is waiting for him. Red waits inside an incinerator where he begs Philip to kill him. Given no other option, Philip activates the incinerator and amongst Red's remains, he finds items he needs to progress into a new area of the mine which is identified as The Shelter. Once inside, Philip notices what appears to be a human person watching him. Philip approaches the figure, but the lighting is suddenly extinguished and Philip is knocked out and dragged away. With that the first episode Penumbra: Overture ends.

Infection Edit

It is clear that Philip was infected with the virus when he explored the mine shafts. He hears whispering throughout the entire series and experiences déjà vu a few times even before encountering Dr. Amabel Swanson.

Theories explaining how Philip got infected include: the blow to his head or the numerous dog bites he sustained Penumbra: Overture. Some theories suggest the infection is airborne, but this cannot be since Amabel explains over the speaker in Penumbra: Black Plague that it is spread through bodily fluids and, if it was airborne, Amabel would have also been infected, which she was not.

Possible Death Edit

At the end of the game, Philip is experiencing multiple symptoms of infection. While Clarence was in his body, he was more or less immune to the disease; Clarence may have been fighting it off, or it might simply have been unable to affect Philip while he was already infected. Therefore, once Clarence was removed from his system, Philip became instantly and totally vulnerable to the Tuurngait. It is possible, then, that the Tuurngait's "last chance" was one long delaying tactic to prevent Philip from doing anything to destroy it.

Further FateEdit

At the beginning of Penumbra: Requiem, Philip is knocked unconscious, leading to the game's events. Going through some kind of strange dream-world, Philip is presented a choice by Red, either die with the secret of The Shelter and the Tuurngait, or continue his survival (The latter of which would likely lead to some kind of catastrophe, as implied by Red). If the former is chosen, Philip dies in the computer room where Penumbra: Black Plague had ended. However, if Philip chooses otherwise, he presumably leaves the Shelter and boards the boat, which turns out to be a version of the boat Clarence had created. At this point, it is unclear what Philip's fate is, though there is general agreement that he lives, albeit trapped in his own mind.

Description Edit

Philip is strong willed for the most part (albeit reluctant and generally fearful), as shown by his ventures into the deadly corridors of the Greenland Mine and The Shelter. However, this is offset by his pessimistic attitude in dialogue. He perceives many things in both scenarios from a philosophical point of view, which is mainly shown during loading screens and especially in the e-mail at the end of Penumbra: Requiem, provided the player collected all collectibles and chose to die with Red.

Philip never has a true physical appearance throughout Penumbra: Overture and Penumbra: Black Plague, though the times he is depicted he appears that of a middle-aged Caucasian male with blonde hair and blue eyes, generally wearing a red-brown arctic jacket with boots and similar garb. The only time he has a different set of clothing is when an image of him at his mom's funeral is shown, where he's dressed in a suit.

His face is never completely seen, usually obscured in shadows. The only time Philip makes a physical appearance is when he comes across his own corpse in Penumbra: Requiem, which matches his appearance seen elsewhere.


  • Despite being English, Philip sounds American in the intro of Penumbra: Black Plague. This is due to Philip originally being voiced by English Penumbra writer Tom Jubert for the intro of Penumbra: Overture - giving him a voice suitable voice - due to a tight budget, and a professional voice actor being brought on for Penumbra: Black Plague.
  • Philip's name, along with Howard's, comes from H.P. Lovecraft's full name; Howard Phillips Lovecraft.
  • Philip is never given a last name throughout the series, likely intentional by the developers as it's never important. While it is possible for him to take after his father's last name, LaFresque, it is as equally as possible for him to take after his mother's instead.
    • On the back of the Penumbra: Overture physical release, he is named Philip Buchanon, likely his mother's last name. While it's not confirmed by Frictional Games to be his last name, it is the only official source where he is given one.
  • The model for Philip's corpse seen in Penumbra: Requiem is a reskinned scientist model from Penumbra: Black Plague, with the model itself largely identical except for the ID tag being taken off the coat.


Penumbra: Black PlagueEdit

Penumbra: RequiemEdit