- "It all began a week after my mother's passing and I thought that I couldn't be in any worse emotional state."
- ―The Protagonist - Penumbra[src]
The Protagonist is the nameless protagonist of the original Penumbra. Although his story is similar to Philip Buchanon, the protagonist of the Penumbra Series, his appearance, background, and history are different.
Much like Philip of the Penumbra series, the protagonist's nameless father was absent from his life before birth, and only after his mother's death years later did his father ever contact him. In a letter presumably delivered after his mother's funeral, the protagonist's father apologized for leaving him and his mother, revealing that he's dead by the time the protagonist receives the letter, and also provides a key to a safe-deposit box.
The protagonist is at first apprehensive, but out of curiosity about learning about his late father soon retrieves the contents of the safe-deposit box; an old book written in a possibly alien or archaic language, along with some notes. While the book is a dead end, the protagonist eventually deciphers the messy handwriting in the notes and finds they mostly relate to a location in Greenland. With no other leads, the protagonist takes a flight to Greenland, taking a fishing boat to a remote station town, as revealed in cut dialogue, which also reveals that it's "within walking distance of the place [the protagonist] was looking for." Despite an oncoming snowstorm, the protagonist continues his search and wanders through the Greenland wastes.
Although the protagonist regrets the decision to explore despite the snowstorm, likely to die from exposure with his only shelter being a small alcove between some rocks, he finds that a hatch is hidden in the rocks, and despite exhaustion and the hatch likely being frozen shut, is able to force it open as he somehow realizes it's what he was looking for, entering The Facility.
After entering The Facility, the protagonist finds in the entrance room a rusty locker, locked with a padlock, and a note in one of the other lockers which reveals that something went wrong in The Facility, what exactly unexplained as not even the man who wrote the note knew. The note also provides a code for the locked door that leads deeper into The Facility. After entering said door, the power goes out and the protagonist explores in the darkness, finding out that most doors in The Facility are electromagnetically-sealed - with the only plain, wooden door being locked, and the key for which having been snapped in half - meaning he needs to find a way to turn the power back on. Breaking into a stairwell - which is found to lead to Level #2 - by using a sturdy metal rod to force open the door, the protagonist finds this is where the generator room is located. After turning on the backup generator, it turns out the entrance to Level #2 requires a numerical code and a keycard.
Once going back to Level #1, he goes through the only electromagnetically-sealed door that is not locked by a numerical code, entering a storage area that, due to a wall in the back room having been broken down at some point, is now connected to an adjacent storage area. While leaving one of the rooms in the adjacent area, a strange creature known as the Roach breaks down the plain, locked wooden door to the room across from the protagonist, presumably having sensed him, and takes chase. The protagonist can either evade or kill the roach. Either way, he continues exploring further into The Facility, eventually finding a barren workshop that is connected to the rest of The Facility by a long, bending hallway, that happens to have a completely functional metal mending machine, although which requires a cord.
After replacing the cord and mending the key that was snapped in half, the protagonist leaves the workshop. However, after exiting the workshop, a strange groaning noise can be heard. While walking back towards the rest of The Facility, the groaning gets louder until the protagonist is overcome with some sort of hallucination; his vision becomes red and blurry, and he hears a strange breathing from all around him, possibly from himself, which could indicate that he's effected by the cause of what happened at The Facility. The hallucination soon stops, and the protagonist makes his way back to the locked door in the first hallway.
After unlocking the door and exploring the room, he finds there's not much of importance inside except for a vent, before a bang is heard in the hallway to the right of the room. If the protagonist investigates, the source of the commotion turns out to be another Roach identical to the first one, although this is completely optional and the protagonist can avoid the creature. Crawling through the vent in the room, the protagonist is lead to an office otherwise inaccessible, being one of the rooms behind an electromagnetically-sealed door that requires a numerical code.
An old computer is found in the office, on which is an email containing the numerical code for the Level #2 entrance. Once retrieving the code, the protagonist will then need to get the keycard to the Level #2 entrance if he doesn't have it already by mixing together salt and coal, making sulfuric acid, which is used to disintegrate the ring on the padlock, unlocking the locker. With the rusty locker now open, the keycard can be retrieved.
With the keycard and numerical code, the protagonist opens the door to the Level #2 entrance. Once beyond the door, he finds himself in a plain, grated-metal room covered in blood, possibly indicative of a hallucination even worse than earlier as the room is a dead-end, being featureless with the exception of an industrial light on the ceiling. As the protagonist stands completely still, simply looking around the impossible room, he starts hearing the groaning sound from earlier, this time being accompanied by strange, deep laughter, and his vision turns red again, before the noise and a blinding white light overtake him. As the screen fades to white, he is heard being knocked unconscious by an unknown cause, collapsing to the floor.
As the Penumbra tech demo was cut short, the protagonist's fate is unknown. It is likely, if his story was meant to be anything like Philip's, that he's alive, but where he was taken, whether it be deeper into The Facility, or somewhere else completely, is unknown.
Not much is known about the protagonist's character, simply being an everyman controlled by the player beyond the intro. Most of his observations are cold and clinical, aside from brief bouts of anger, frustration, confusion, and possibly fear.
Physically, he appears to be a Caucasian man with dark brown hair and pale, green eyes, it is likely from his voice that he is American, and he seems to be rather well-built as he managed to brave a heavy snowstorm for about an hour yet still able to open a frozen, rusted hatch, can be attacked by the Roach yet still walk fine, and is agile and flexible enough to move and run quickly without having to stop for breath and quickly and easily move through a ventilation system.
In terms of attire, his first appearance depicts him in a dark brown jacket over a dark grey t-shirt and pants. When he travels to Greenland, he is seen wearing a heavy, yellow arctic coat with matching yellow gloves, a green balaclava, dark, heavy pants, and a bag. Once inside The Facility, if the player opens the inventory they will see that the protagonist's hands are exposed and he is no longer wearing the yellow coat and gloves, likely having stored the arctic garb in his bag, and appears to be wearing the same dark brown jacket first seen in the intro.
- The protagonist is voiced by Mike Hillard, who after the success of the tech demo voiced Tom "Red" Redwood.
|Penumbra (tech demo)|
|Characters: Protagonist • Roach • Hunter (Cut) • Gug (Cut)|
|Other: The Facility • Unused content|