Monoliths, or Tablets are strange slabs of engraved stone, standing upright in multiple hidden locations across the World. There are a total of 16 Monoliths, 4 in each direction.
The Ochre outfit can be unlocked after collecting all 16 Monoliths.
Possessing some technology either in or around them, their devices project holograms of a single entity whose identity or purpose is difficult to discern. Monoliths are activated by The Drifter and kept track of at the Monolith Gallery.
Lore and Story Analysis
Stone Monoliths were built by an ancient race, the "Monolith Race", let's call them The Librarians. Their location is important, as each Monolith pertains to the region it is found within.
The Librarians were probably the first race, the primordial species (the race seen when a Monolith is activated for the first time.) They worshiped the Jackal God, the Godlike entity called Anubis * (This is a speculative name.) .
They were the ones who originally discovered the Pink Energy source - which we can find in every area of the World - and built the Titans in the distant past, for unknown reasons. The Titans were modeled upon giant creatures (the Giants) that walked the World at this time. A skeleton of one such creature can be found in the West Zone (see more here.)
We don't know what happened next, if this fifth ancient race was thought extinct, or maybe lived on alongside the other races. If they lived on in secret, or if only one survived.
|The Alphabet of Hyper Light Drifter|
Understanding the alphabet
The table above shows the letters of the alphabet and their corresponding in-game glyphs.
Many of the glyphs represent two letters instead of only one. The missing letters (J, Q, X, and Z) do not have any corresponding glyphs as far as we know. There are no spaces between each glyph. Glyphs are read from top to bottom (similar to traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean to name a few) as opposed to from left to right, which is how we normally read.
Decoding the Monoliths
In the North, the Bird People homeland. The Vulture Hermit confirms this story.
- 1. TRANSCENDENCE FAITH IMMORTALITY / IN MORTALITY
- 2. RIFTS CRAFTED, DANGEROUS POTENTIAL
- 3. A FOUNDATION FOR FAITH & VIOLENCE
- 4. A LOSS OF SELF, A NARROW PATH TRAVELED
At first, the Bird People lived a peaceful tribal life steeped heavily in religion and ceremonies. However, an upstart religious fanatic, the zone Boss known as The Hierophant, preaches a new religion. Slowly, this new cult gains momentum and, in a midnight coup takes over the monastery. [ #1 (TRANSCENDENCE FAITH IMMORTALITY / IN MORTALITY) ] This new religion focuses on religious sacrifices: by sacrificing on the altars, this religion likely gains many supposed benefits. They are willing to sacrifice anything, even their own young. Perhaps...
- ...they supposedly gain an extended life, or magical powers.
- ...it's all placebo and the "magic" is leftover technology from the Bird's ancient civilisation.
- ...this is the old way of worship, and they actually do gain power from their rituals.
The "rifts" either refer to a magical kind, or to those among the Bird People factions. It is more likely to believe the latter, as it then leaves the magical element in ambiguity. [ #2 (RIFTS CRAFTED, DANGEROUS POTENTIAL) ]
This new religion is founded on fanaticism and violence, and slowly, all the birds who stick to the old ways are killed. All, except one. An old priest gathers what eggs he can, and flees the monastery. Founding a small haven for the mountainside to raise the young. [ #3 (A FOUNDATION FOR FAITH & VIOLENCE) ] This Hermit can be visited by climbing the mountain in the Northern region, along with some newborn chicks. He is still there, protecting his little pocket of innocence.
The birds that remained slowly lost themselves in their sadistic acts, likely they are irredeemable and their minds have become corrupted. When the Hierophant is defeated, its cultists vanish in terror and disbelief. [ #4 (A LOSS OF SELF, A NARROW PATH TRAVELED) ]
That their chieftain was defeated does not waver their faith however and they continue in their ways. When defeated, it is revealed that it was in fact a fake: two birds standing atop one another for increased height and majesty. A charlatan to the core.
- The Hierophant: Known as the High Priest, he symbolizes the tarot card and a strive to bridge the gap between heaven and earth. Except he can't quite because he's a fake. We know this because of his true nature as a fraudster.
In the South, the Lizard People homeland. This story is not confirmed by the old Elder Lizard, and contains the most speculation.
- 5. OVERWHELMING WONDERS AND POWER
- 6. DESPERATE HUNGER FOR PROGRESS
- 7. DISTORTION OF LIFE, DEVOURING BODY
- 8. THE FIRST VICTIM OF THE INVASION
This region was likely once the seat of technology in the ancient world. Machines are strewn everywhere and parts of the Titans lie, still active, deep within the bowels of the earth. The [ #5 (OVERWHELMING WONDERS AND POWER) ] Monolith refers to the glory days of the distant past, when all races were working together for the greater good and creating technological marvels in the labs below.
A few drones are all that remain active, and many machine wrecks can be found on this land. Probably the machines that were used to fight with AND against the Titans. A smaller number of these machines is found scattered all around the World, the machines used to fight the Titans in the other cities.
The races living on this land had a deep set desire to advance. Just like humans in the real world, they had a great thirst for knowledge. [ #6 (DESPERATE HUNGER FOR PROGRESS) ] However, their obsession was hubris and unhealthy and resulted in them giving up their faith and morals in search of a greater God, in machines and technology. God found in ones own creations. They succeeded, creating artificial and cybernetic life, and all the tanks in the lab below the desert can confirm. (The noninteractive machines and cyborgs, Bladebots, Dirks, Leapers, Robot Spiders...and of course, the area bosses.)
However, another being can be found in these tanks: a man sized blue-skinned, black eyed creature. Likely the race that The Drifter belongs to is artificial and first created here, in these labs. [ #7 (DISTORTION OF LIFE, DEVOURING BODY) ] Created by the coalition of ancient races. They are also likely the most advanced artificial life, the culmination of technology, as The Drifter is clearly sentient, where the other creatures from the laboratories are not. A Titan also lies beneath in the labs deep in the earth. We can believe the machines from the labs are attempting to follow their programming, or Judgement’s orders, and continue the artificial life project along with trying to salvage and repair the Titan. Many creatures can be seen being grown in test tubes in the lab, blue-skins among them. The cyborgs have also salvaged parts of the Titan, parts that could be used to reassemble the old, or create a new Titian. Its heart and eyes are still working.
As this was the region where the Titans were likely created/stored for study in the labs, as a result it was hit by the full force of Judgement’s armies, turning the area in a complete wasteland. [ #8 (THE FIRST VICTIM OF THE INVASION) ] Whatever city was once here has long been destroyed. It can be assumed that the landscape was always arid, but not completely barren as it is currently.
The Elder Lizard tells us the story of how his tribe rediscovered an elevator down into the labs, where they explored foolishly until they accidentally caused the release of a cybernetic life form, that killed a few of them as they scattered. Retreating to the surface, the lizards now live a meagre existence, sometimes eating their own tails to make ends meet.
In the East, the old homeland of the Otter People. The Otter Prisoner in the old church * (The name of this structure is speculative.) confirms this story.
- 9. AN ISOLATED PEOPLE FEARFUL AND OBSESSED
- 10. OFFERING OF A GREAT CLEANSING FLAME
- 11. A POISONED, MADDENED HOMELAND
- 12. FRAGILE BALANCE SCORCHED, UNDONE
The Monoliths in the East tells us about the Toad race that invaded the Lake, [ #9 (AN ISOLATED PEOPLE FEARFUL AND OBSESSED) ] and their leader, The Emperor. He promised power and freedom to the Toads, in exchange for their obedience and devotion. The East zone is also filled with pink-colored fire, it is believed that this could be the mining/refining process of the Pink Energy source. [ #10 (OFFERING OF A GREAT CLEANSING FLAME) ]
The Toads attacked and enslaved the Otters living in the ruined city. Enslaving many, killing many more. Those who've been to the Eastern zone know of the piles of corpses littered around, or thrown in the water of the lake. [ #11 (A POISONED, MADDENED BONELAND) ] The Emperor is even chewing a corpse when the Drifter first meets him.
By killing the Otters, the Toads have upset the balance and doomed the peace that could have arisen in the East. [ #12 (FRAGILE BALANCE SCORCHED, UNDONE) ] However, a few Otters remain hiding out in the church. In the center of the Eastern city you can see the first Titan's resting place. The Otter People managed to defeat the Titan many centuries past, and it lies dead and lifeless in the middle of their town.
In the West, home of the Raccoon People and their King. This story is confirmed by the Raccoon Hermit in the south West.
- 13. PRECIOUS MOMENTS CAPTURED BY CRYSTAL
- 14. A STILLNESS OF MIND, SKILL HONED SHARP
- 15. MIDNIGHT LOOMING
- 16. TRAPPED BY DESPERATION TO REMAIN
We start off back in Ancient History. With what it's known about the origins of Drifters, it's clear what has happened here. When the Power Cell activated the Titans, it used them to enslave The Drifter's species along with other artificial creatures, forming the bulk of Judgement’s armies. They invaded the West, along with the Titans.
The Raccoon People were prepared to fight with the Blue-skinned and the Titans: they had weapons powered by Hard Crystal technology. However, when one of the Titans was destroyed (By the Raccoon Hermit's gunnery team), all of the Crystal technology overloaded creating the Crystal Forest, and encasing many of the soldiers from that battle... trapping them for eternity. [ #13 (PRECIOUS MOMENTS CAPTURED BY CRYSTAL) ]
There was finally peace again in the West, all the soldiers of old were trapped forever in Crystal. Except there were likely survivors, Raccoons and Blue-skinned probably survived. We don't know if The Drifter was alive at this time, though he could have been, as we don't know the lifespan of artificial lifeforms. Perhaps...
- ...he's been wandering ever since.
- ...he's so old, he's lost his memory.
- ...he still remembers.
- ...he's unaware of the past.
- ...he is descended of Blue-skinned that survived this battle. That is if Blue-skinned are capable of reproduction or replication. Either way, he's an artificial life form of the Blue-skinned species.
Now, regarding The Drifter's occupation, perhaps...
- ...he then became a Drifter to collect ancient technology, like the other Drifters.
- ...all is needed to be a drifter, is to be nomadic, and collect old tech as an occupation or necessity.
- ...Drifters can be any species. We do see a few of them around the world, though most are skeletons.
The only other life forms in this area are the Crystal Brutes, the Crystal Spiders and Crystal Wolves. These could have evolved in the Hard Crystal environment, or they could be creations of the Raccoons People back in the old times. We know artificial life was indeed a possibility. [ #14 (A STILLNESS OF MIND, SKILL HONED SHARP) ]
There are also references to the Great War, The Hanged Man and the awakening of the Raccoon army. [ #15 (MIDNIGHT LOOMING) ] It’s been so long since the Great War, no one remembers. Adventurers and Drifters have come through the Crystal Forest disturbing the Hard Crystals and causing the Raccoon soldiers to reawaken. The Racoon Hermit is one of such soldiers, though he has abandoned his old cause and now lives a reclusive life on the floating islands in the West, by southwest area. Most of the Racoon army that awakens return to their now ruined capital and their King, who was likely encased in Hard Crystal like his soldiers.
Imagine his surprise when The Drifter, a Blue-skinned, walks in his arena. He thought he had defeated his species many centuries ago, perhaps the years inside and enhanced by Hard Crystal have driven him insane. Either way, he attacks the Drifter, enraged at the past actions of his species. This Monolith transcription [ #16 (TRAPPED BY DESPERATION TO REMAIN) ] makes us think that The Hanged Man is desperate for immortality, and maybe was even one of those that created the Immortal Cell.
- The Hanged Man: he symbolizes the tarot card, a suspension in time which pertains to his centuries trapped in Hard Crystal. It could even be he trapped himself and his army in crystal as a way to prolong their life and wait out the armageddon. It also symbolises a pursuit of knowledge and selfishness. This backs up the theory that he was one of those who commissioned or created the Immortal Cell.
The text appearing in the Library, after finding all 16 Monoliths.
- HARNESSING A GREAT WELLSPRING, A PERFECT IMMORTAL CELL WAS CRAFTED TO BE IMBUED WITHIN ALL SENTIENT LIFE A NOBLE GOAL, THOUGH SUCH A POWER TERRIFIED OTHERS, AND BROUGHT RUIN AS ITS PURPOSE WAS TRANSMOGRIFIED THE ABHORRENT CELL STILL FESTERS DEEP IN THE CHAMBERS OF THIS WORLD
Our story begins in the World shown in the Intro cinematic, many races are sentient and technologically advanced. The brightest minds from four main races: the Lizard People of the South, the Raccoon People of the West, the Bird People of the North and the Otter People of the East. All come together to further their technological goals.
- It is believed that all four main races are involved because there are the skeletons of an Otter and a Bird/Lizard near the last Boss fight, and their effigies appear in the Intro cinematic, holding pillars that slowly light up. Furthermore, in the Intro there are bodies of all races lying dead in the water suggesting that all were present and had a hand in the discovery of The Wellspring. A set of four statues in the Southern lab shows all four races skeletons on plinths. (Though some have speculated this is another race keeping the statues as trophies.)
They discover the powerful Pink Energy source, that the Librarians used before them. This Pink Energy is found in explosive canisters, it powered the Titans and is produced/extracted in the Eastern region. The confederate races had long studied the Librarians, the Titans, the Pink Energy source. They did not make the same mistakes as the Librarians and as such did not learn like they had.
They, like the Librarians worshiped, had once worshiped Anubis. However over time they forgot the sanctity of religion. Their humility gave way to an insatiable drive for progress and hunger for knowledge. They had developed too fast and reached a level of technology that was too dangerous and too poorly understood, they thought they had found a way to make themselves immortal. They developed a Power Cell that would harness the power of a God. The Wellspring - [HARNESSING A GREAT WELLSPRING] - is signified by the floating purple "structure" in the Intro cinematic.
- It could also be that it was a natural entertain source they had discovered, such as the Pink Energy source we see in the game.
They developed - [A PERFECT IMMORTAL CELL] - a Power Cell that would use The Wellspring (the power of a God), and would use it to give themselves immortality. It is believed that the Librarians also reached this point of technology in the past but turned away from it, as mentioned above. The imbuing - [A PERFECT IMMORTAL CELL WAS CRAFTED TO BE IMBUED WITHIN ALL SENTIENT LIFE] - refers to how the power would be imbued within all life making them Immortal. Yes quite noble. - [A NOBLE GOAL] - It would mean a civilisation with no death, like paradise.
We assume the "others" - [THOUGH SUCH A POWER TERRIFIED OTHERS] - were splinter factions within the races, and possibly several minor races like those that are seen in Central Town, and the frog people. Likely they objected on moral, religious or social grounds.
- [AND BROUGHT RUIN] - The Immortal Cell would eventually be successful in harnessing Anubis' power, but in doing so it would ensnare Anubis, essentially stealing his power and weakening Anubis. Understandably, the God would not be pleased.
Upon accessing The Wellspring and gaining a portion of Godlike power, the Immortal Cell gained a Godlike humanoid form of its own, from now on we will call this entity Judgement. It is also possible that Anubis didn't exist until this moment either, but depends on whether you believe him to have been created along with Judgement or having existed in some form before him.
- [AS ITS PURPOSE WAS TRANSMOGRIFIED] - To transmogrify means to change in a surprising or magical manner. How was the purpose transmogrified? Perhaps...
- ...its original purpose corrupted it.
- ...this infantile Godlike entity has not learned right from wrong.
- ...it was created with selfish intent, and so its nature is selfish, only caring for itself.
Perhaps a mixture of those ideas, whatever the case we can think It is simply trying to stay alive. We will never learn its true motivation. We see the activation of the Immortal Cell in the Intro. It's symbolized by the structure with four pillars that slowly light up, it slowly powers up until it accesses The Wellspring.