I love all of Portals characters and that includes Doug Rattmann, the mentally tortured but self-sacrificing schizophrenic, leaving cryptic messages and influencing the events of the games from behind the scenes. Throughout Portal 2 you will have noticed at very least one of the areas of Aperture that Rattmann has beautified with his disturbed masterpieces. Pressing yourself up against some of Rattmann’s murals reveals something rather interesting though. Personally I only got it to work with murals depicting Chell, although I could have just been “doing it wrong”, but forcing yourself towards at least some of these walls can trigger a faint but perceivable hidden track in the game. This track, dubbed ‘Schizophrenia’ can be heard here and is thought to be a warped recording of Rattmann’s insane sobbing.
People have tried slowing the track down or playing it backwards and some claim to have found genuine speech hidden in it but so far there is nothing concrete about any hidden message within the track. Whether there truly is a missive from Rattmann to be decoded or Valve is just making us hear voices where there are none (one of the many possible symptoms of schizophrenia), it’s an interesting secret. Perhaps even more confusing is how it fits into the game world. Is it some sort of hidden recording in the walls, a product of any brain damage Chell may have endured, or something else entirely? We just don’t know.
Scribbled on the wall of one of Rattmann’s dens is a picture of these numbers flying out of what appears to be his head. As we can see from the Portal comic Lab Rat these numbers actually make up the extension telephone number within Aperture that employees are to call in case of rogue AI, and also appear to be the numbers on Chell’s personal file (you may have to zoom in for that one).
Rattmann and Shakespeare
It appears that Rattmann may be a bit of a Shakespeare fanatic. In one particular instance of his artwork he writes “Hear the turret, for it is knell, that summons [crossed out] to heaven, or to hell”. This is a reference to the Macbeth quote "The bell invites me. Hear it not, Duncan; for it is a knell, that summons thee to heaven or to hell." Rattmann’s “bell” seems to refer to the bell curve on the graph in this piece of graffiti. The graph comes from Chell’s personal files in Aperture and shows her abnormally high level of tenacity. Some also think that the turret that summons her to “heaven” is the fat turret (or all the turrets) singing during the opera at the end of the game, while the turret that sends her to hell is any hypothetical turret which could kill her.
The Hidden Commentary Node
The Shakespeare room is interesting as it is, but should you have the developer commentary mode turned on and visit that particular den, you’ll also notice a commentary node in there from one Adam Foster. Upon activating the node it spits about a series of seemingly random electronic noises which when converted into images, show three different files (images by domdove) which outline the original Portal ARG, although it should be noted that some of the text is barely legible.
The Lunar Foreshadowing
Unless you read any spoilers beforehand, the moon was probably the last place you expected to end up in Portal 2, but there were actually plenty of clues that this was where the game was going scattered throughout, you just had to know where to look. The Space Core and Cave’s acquirement of moon rocks were obvious examples but there are more. When you first wake up in storage at the start of the game you stared at a painting and probably noticed a vista on the wall of the room depicting a beach. What you may not have noticed is that when you awake the second time the vista on the wall has changed from a sunset scene to a night-time scene and where there was a man in the bottom left of the vista, there is now a howling wolf. Additionally the painting on the wall now features a night time scene, including a giant moon.
These seem like trivial references in comparison to what one Rattmann left behind though. In Lab Rat, when Rattmann’s colleague Henry expresses that building GLaDOS was their generation’s “moon shot”, Rattmann says that he would rather have gone to the moon. It seems Rattmann’s interest in the moon developed into a full blown obsession after he was trapped in the facility with GLaDOS and he has drawn at least four different pieces of graffiti across the seven areas he painted in which depict the moon.
Those who completed the ‘Last Transmission’ achievement will also have heard the radio they delivered to one of Rattmann’s den start to spew out a series of electronic beeps, much like the commentary node mentioned earlier. This was actually a call-back to the start of the first Portal ARG, where players had to find radios in the game, pick up hidden signals and translate the resulting audio file fed out to get morse code or image files from Aperture. So, what does the Portal 2 radio signal reveal when decoded? It actually decrypts into this; that’s right, a picture of the Companion Cube on the moon. Things go even deeper than that though.
Think about where you picked up the Portal gun, it was lying in a room among Rattmann’s paintings, which depict the Portal backstory and events of Portal 1, above it is a hole in the ceiling of the facility with pictures of the moon in various states around it, and an orange portal nearby. The theory is that with “Too many variables” as Rattmann put it, he devised a simple plan to escape the clutches of GLaDOS. He made one last documentation of what happened at Aperture and then used the symbols on the ceiling to track the moon. When the time came he shot one orange portal nearby, one blue portal on the moon and left the facility. The fact he was able to make a transmission back with a picture of his Companion Cube, which is still being broadcast centuries later suggests that he found a way to survive on the moon too. It’s been hypothesised that Aperture’s advanced space technology allowed them to build some sort of moon facility where Rattmann survived for at least a while before perishing.
This isn’t all though, Rattmann may have predicted Chell’s trip to the moon too, or at least encouraged her to escape out of the facility and to the moon. In the whiteboard drawings in one of his dens he depicts a cat jumping out of a box and over the moon, a number of equations related to quantum science, including Schrödinger’s equation, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and the time dilation equation, and more cat and cube related imagery. All of this seems to be alluding to the theoretical physics experiment, Schrödinger’s Cat, which is referenced more than once in Lab Rat. If you’re not familiar with the experiment you can go read up on it but it essentially involves a situation where a cat in a box, for all practical purposes, is both simultaneously alive and dead. In the comic, Rattmann compares Chell to the cat, as she is trapped in her relaxation vault in a coma until someone wakes her up, effectively alive and dead. This symbolism and possibly the other messages about the moon could be a grand plan on Rattmann’s part either to predict Chell’s eventual journey to the moon or to give her the key to overcoming whatever nasty may be plugged into the Aperture mainframe.
And so concludes this long stare are at the trivia and the detail of Portal 2. Thanks to everyone who’s been reading and a special thanks to everyone who created the videos and images I linked, Combine Overwiki and the smart folks of the Portal 2 board on the Steam user forums, especially rafman400 who created and maintained the Rattmann graffiti thread. Good luck, have more cube tricks.