The Grand Theft Auto series rose to fame on the back of its reputation for violence and mayhem. But the simple life of crime alone didn't make GTA games top sellers on all platforms. Rockstar's wide open sandbox games are full of hidden easter eggs and secrets, and as a result of many of their players turned away from promising careers as car thieves to dedicate themselves to solving more tantalizing mysteries.
When we covered the secret of the Mount Chiliad, in #GTAV, I mentioned the connection with aliens, werewolves, and bigfoot. This spine chilling tale of the unexplained concerns another cryptid. A secretive, misbegotten creature that is said to lurk in the underground areas of several GTA titles. Half-man, half-rat, the so-called 'Ratman' is rumored to live a furtive life in the coded underworld, but some players swear they have encountered the terrifying thing face-to-face. As Now Loading's only qualified cryptozoologist, I took it upon myself to unpack the case.
The Birth Of A Legend
The rumors all started when a photo was put on the internet showing what looked like a half-rat half-man hybrid encountered in GTA IV. Once this surfaced, other players chimed in to describe their experience with the creature.
Reports from players who have encountered Ratman describe him as one of two things: one being a literal rat-man, who is described as being a tall creature, or simply a special hobo that can run at great speed and tries to stay out of sight. Whatever form he takes, Ratman is said to run away into a tunnel or nearest station, sometimes shouting "I am Ratman!" to the player. More rarely, Ratman in half-rat form is said to be hostile to the player, with the power to kill him instantly. Let's take a closer look at that picture:
In close detail, the face of Ratman doesn't look convincing enough to prove its existence. Why is it so white? Is it wearing a hoodie? Really, it's too blurry to nail down in much detail.
The Case For Ratman
The picture isn't enough on its own but there are quite a few in-game events and hints that appear to imply something creepy and rat-related is going on.
In GTA IV, the player can go to the Easton Subway Service entrance in Easton, Algonquin, and head downstairs to see a strange orange liquid on the floor. Ratman hunters insist that this liquid is in fact blood. Several more of these little orange pools of liquid can be found in various places inside the underground subway system. There is also more of this 'Ratman Blood' visible on the roof of the Abandoned Hospital. This could be the old, dried-up residue of hospital victims. Or motor oil stains, as there are motor oil cans on the roof of the hospital.
In the DLC content, if the player watches TV, a Weazel News segment will state that the mayor is going to flood the subways due to a rat infestation. Also, Craplist, the in-universe Craigslist parody, has an ad for 'Human Lab Rats' in its jobs section. Could Ratman be the result of these experiments? The description of the job, while horrifying, doesn't seem to imply genetic engineering or anything that could result in mutants.
But the advertisement is sent from Acter Industrial Park, which fans have linked to the abandoned factory complex in the northern part of the island. These factories were abandoned after an accident that leaked dangerous chemicals, and if the player wanders the complex, they can find signs saying 'Risk of Mutation' and 'Wear Eye Protection'.
At the Split Sides Comedy Club, one of the comedians mentions a hobo that sprinted past them at immense speeds which could be a reference to Ratman's speed and his appearance, since there's a portion of Ratman hunters that maintain that he's not a monster, but just a unique kind of hobo.
A Shot In The Darkel
Although primarily considered to be a GTA IV myth, many players have made connections between Ratman and Darkel from GTA III. Both exhibit similar behaviour and are rumored to be found skulking in dark tunnels. But Darkel has been confirmed to exist in the game's code, and can be spawned with mods. He was intended to be a quest-giver, an evil revolutionary hobo who would incite the player to acts of mayhem and destruction, but Darkel was eventually removed from the game before release, apparently because his tone didn't fit with the rest of the story. Sightings of Ratman in GTA IV have been conflated with other reporting encounters with a retextured Darkel, leading some theorists to posit that they are one and the same.
A poster for a musical theater production called 'Rats' (parody of Cats) can also be seen in the subway in GTA III. Conspiracy theorists believe this is a possible reference to the Ratman. Rats the musical is also advertised on the Liberty Tree's website. Morgan Merryweather describes the musical as 'A lovable tale about the secret life of vermin'. But is there a real verminous monster living a secret life under Liberty City? That doesn't sound like a loveable tale.
Hunting Ratman In Los Santos
Ratman is also rumored to appear in GTA V, but there are much fewer alleged sightings from players of the latest title. Reports from players claim that he can be found under freeways, near hobos, or in the city's expansive sewer network.
A mysterious laughter can be heard down in the maintenance tunnels in downtown Los Santos, but if you try to follow it it seems to originate from behind a blocked off area of the tunnels. Also, if the player kills a rat in the maintenance tunnels of Los Santos then a splash sound effect, similar to the player's footsteps, can be heard (although, it could just be an echo). Theorists claim that this is a sign that the Ratman is near, watching the player murder his kin.
It's one hell of a creepy theory, but so far searches haven't turned up much more than a bunch of click-baiting YouTube vids. Not even a dodgy picture like the one from GTA IV.
I Smell A Rat
This myth is so popular with fans that there have been many attempts to find Ratman in the game's internal files. Despite many hours down the data-mine, searchers have come up empty handed so far. The elusive Ratman appears to exist only as an unproven but persistent myth.
Although Ratman himself wasn't found in the game files, there was some rat-related weirdness going on. The data shows that here was once a train conductor file in GTA IV, with sound files of him saying 'I just saw a rat the size of a pitbull down in the subway'.
My personal verdict is that the infamous picture is too blurry to serve as definitive evidence, and could easily be manipulated. There are certainly some rat related jokes and sinister implications, but they could be standalone events and not all connected. Maybe they are signs that a Ratman type thing was planned by the devs but eventually dropped. Because hobos or other pedestrians can sometimes spawn in odd locations or run underground to get cover from gunfire, it's not inconceivable that the player could encounter one running in the tunnels, in the poor lighting.
Although I'm not convinced by this myth, I do wish it were true, and there was in fact a Ratman. Maybe one that was a master of martial arts, and protected by his four adopted mutant turtles...
Do you believe in Ratman? Comment if you've seen it!
It takes dedication to be a video game mythbuster, and also to be a speedrunner, check out our amazing facts about this hardcore gaming subculture:
[Source: GTA Myths Wiki]