The Gray Man, Gray Person, Shadowy Figure, Gray-Coat, Mysterious Figure or Spy is an entity that will appear at seemingly random times throughout certain areas of the dream-scape, and will slowly approach the player. Upon getting close, they will disappear in a bright flash, similar to a camera flash. The Gray Man is notorious for their startling sudden appearances. They may appear more than once in an area consecutively, even rapidly for that matter. They are sometimes viewed as the main antagonist of the game and seem to appear most often in Happy Town.
The Gray Man is described as wearing a dark gray bucket hat and trench coat of the same color. Their hands are always inside their pockets and their elbows stick out slightly. Their face is entirely blank of features, as their model lacks any texturing. They appear to "glide" instead of walk, as their feet never move. Their posture is rather kyphotic, which is generally seen as a negative trait. Due to this it is almost perceived as though they are looking at the player in an angry manner or with intent to intimidate the player. This could further imply them being an antagonistic characteristic.
It's possible to lose the flashback option after an encounter with them. If encountered during a flashback, it will end shortly after. The Gray Man seems to erase the memory of past dreams, slowing down progress on things such as textures.
They could possibly be the main antagonistic figure, as they are the only in-game entity capable of hindering your progress. They also may symbolize a ''dream police", whose job is to make sure you stop dreaming, but because you can't wake up they are forced out of your dream, leaving you asleep to dream forever.
The chances of seeing the Gray Man increase throughout the game relative to how dynamic the player's actions and movements are. He can appear in seven locations:
- Happy Town (highest chance of spawning)
- Violence District (2nd highest)
- Kyoto (3rd highest)
- Temple Dojo (fifty-fifty chance of him spawning here)
- Clockwork Machines (3rd lowest)
- Moonlight Tower (2nd lowest)
- Monument Park (lowest chance of spawning)
Theories behind their existenceEdit
The Gray Man could be a result of hypnagogia, a state of sleep where the mind can sometimes imagine a threatening entity or presence. A sense of dread comes with this experience, causing one to only remember the fear. As a result, in game, the player loses the ability to use flashback mode.
The Gray Man may exist for one of several reasons.
- In the "Alien Theory," they represent an alien probing the conscious mind in a dream, hence the 'mind-erase' effect.
- In the "Sexual-Texture Theory," they represents a rapist and/or murderer.
- The player's mind may be trying to mentally block the Gray Man to prevent repressed memories from being re-awakened.
- They may be a recurring unpleasant figure in the real world that the player's mind is trying to forget.
- They could be a reference to the common drug diphenhydramine, which is found in Benadryl. This recreational drug has been known to create instances of a "Hat Man" or "Shadow Figure," which could be similar in appearance to The Gray Man. Diphenhydramine can also cause temporary memory loss of most of the drug's effects.
Evading The Gray ManEdit
To avoid an encounter with the Gray Man, run away while keeping them within your field of vision. The game places them within the vision of the player, so running backwards is the best method for escaping. Get out of their way and they'll walk into the wall and disappear. It is believed that the Gray Man can also be avoided by looking up, at which point one can walk around them without consequence. It is not clear if this is intentional, or a result of glitching in the game. Strafing too far away from the Gray Man can also make them reappear in-front of the player, so this should be avoided.