|“||When my kind found the Eye and realized what it was capable of, they were terrified. It was too difficult a truth. What they could not unlearn was hidden away in darkness — obfuscated, then lost. They did not want to see their story end.||„|
|~ The Prisoner|
The Stranger's inhabitants were an unnamed species native to a terrestrial moon orbiting a gas giant in a nearby solar system. They built the Stranger after receiving a signal from the Eye of the Universe.
The inhabitants of the Stranger resembled bipedal birds with antlers on their heads. They had hooved feet, but their hands were composed of five fingers. They were covered in feathers except for some parts of their hands and hooves, which had scales. Their eyes were retroreflective, which made them light up when near a bright light source.
The culture of the Stranger's inhabitants was centered around light and visions. They used light to open doors, to control rafts, and to watch slide reels. They used a Vision Torch to show each other visions of things they had seen, remembered, or analyzed. They used writing sparsely, mainly to indicate area names and signs. The Stranger's inhabitants enjoyed activities such as playing instruments, star-gazing, fishing, rafting, and playing board games together.
Despite having a simple lifestyle on their homeworld, the Stranger's inhabitants were very technologically advanced. They were able to receive and interpret the signal from the Eye of the Universe using a telescope-like device. They built the Stranger, an artificial ring world working like a centrifuge to simulate gravity. The Stranger also has a cloaking field and is able to detect a Supernova in time to move away from it. On the Stranger, they built a dam and multiple smaller spaceships that were docked near the ring world's exterior. They made a spacecraft that they could use remotely from the Stranger to block the Eye of the Universe's signal. The last device they built was a simulated reality of their homeworld.
The Stranger's inhabitants originated from a terrestrial moon that orbited a gas giant in an unknown solar system. At some point, one of them was able to pick up the signal from the Eye of the Universe on a telescope-like device. Amazed by this discovery and eager to visit, everyone immediately went to work to build a spacecraft capable of reaching the Eye. In the process of building this, they stripped their home moon of all its resources, leaving it completely barren. After finishing the Stranger, they departed for the Eye of the Universe.
Eye of the Universe
Upon arriving at the Eye of the Universe, the Stranger's inhabitants analyzed it with their Vision Torch. However, what it showed them was that if they interacted with the Eye, all planets would crumble to dust and their entire species would die. They became terrified of the Eye's potential and were furious that it misled them. They burned one of their temples that was dedicated to the Eye and abandoned the other. Determined not to let another species encounter the Eye's signal, they built a spacecraft that could block the Eye's signal from being spread out into the universe. With the Eye's signal blocked, the Stranger's inhabitants moved to the center of the Solar System, where they enabled their cloaking field.
Simulation and artifacts
Their mission to interact with the Eye of the Universe now aborted, the Stranger's inhabitants became regretful of the sacrifices they had made to build the Stranger. Devasted by how they had destroyed their home moon, they started building a simulated reality that resembled their homeworld.
In a laboratory in the Hidden Gorge, the Stranger's inhabitants performed experiments to figure out the object that was needed to connect somebody to the simulation. Individuals had to fall asleep in front of a green fire, after which a light had to appear in the object they were holding.
The first experiment was with a regular lantern, which failed to light up after the individual fell asleep. The second experiment was with a metal artifact without a focus and conceal mechanism. While this did produce a flame, the fire went out of control and killed the individual holding the artifact. The third experiment with an artifact that had a focus and conceal mechanism successfully established a connection to the simulation. With everything in place, all of the Stranger's inhabitants took artifacts and went to sleep to enter the simulation.
When everyone had gone to sleep, one individual woke up from the simulation. They went to the control system for the Eye signal blocker and deactivated it. This released the Eye's signal and allowed it to broadcast throughout the universe again. Shortly afterwards, the other inhabitants woke up and imprisoned this individual in a vault along with an artifact to enter the simulation. A structure was built around the vault which was then submerged in the Reservoir. Inside the simulation, some of the other inhabitants took the vault and locked it behind three seals. This left the Prisoner eternally trapped in both the simulation and the real world.
After submerging the Prisoner, the rest of the Stranger's inhabitants scanned all their slide reels to upload them into the simulation. In the real world, they burned almost all of their slide reels in hidden slide burning rooms. They saved some reels, but burned specific slides that showed critical information on what they had done to their homeworld, how they had built and deployed the Eye signal blocker, how they had made the simulation, and who was inside the submerged object. They also re-enabled the Eye signal blocker and destroyed the control mechanism. This severed the connection between the Stranger and the blocker but would leave it turned on forever. The Stranger's inhabitants went to sleep again in their simulation, never to wake up.
As time went on, the bodies of the Stranger's inhabitants died. Nonetheless, because their artifacts were still lit, they remained in the simulation. Since the Eye of the Universe's signal was free for a brief time due to the Prisoner's actions, the Nomai of Escall's Vessel were able to pick up its signal. This caused them to warp to the Solar System and eventually led to the building of the Ash Twin Project.
By the time the Protagonist visits the Stranger, its inhabitants have been in the simulation for thousands of years. If the Protagonist enters the simulation with them, they attempt to extinguish the Protagonist's artifact or kill them to get them out of the simulation. The dam inside the Stranger collapses halfway into the loop, extinguishing the flames of the Stranger's inhabitants in the River Lowlands and the Island Tower. This finally ends their presence in the simulation. The Protagonist can also free the Prisoner in the simulation after finding out three glitches. Attempting to talk to the Prisoner has an effect on the main ending.
- While they are nameless in the game, the Stranger's inhabitants are given numerous names outside of it:
- They are called "ghostbirds" and "ghosts" in the game's files.
- They are called "pursuers" in two of the secret achievements for Echoes of the Eye.
- The voices of the Stranger's inhabitants are provided by real-life elk from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle.
- Ship log: I found a slide reel that shows the Stranger's inhabitants analyzing the Eye of the universe.
- Ship log: Intact slides reveal the construction and launch of a spacecraft designed to block the Eye's signal.
- Ship log: Intact slides reveal the creation of a simulated reality modeled after their home moon.
- Ship log: I found a slide reel that shows three experiments conducted with three different artifacts. The third experiment appears to have been a success.
- Ship log: I found a room with a burned control interface and a projection that seems to indicate a broken connection between the Stranger and another craft.
- Outer Wilds credits listing: Vocalists. Buttons#Elk Choir, 1st Chair, Goodwyn#Elk Choir, 2nd Chair, Jessie#Elk Choir, 3rd Chair, Sarah#Elk Choir, 4th Chair.
- Buttons the Elk.
- Ellie / Buttons the Elk: Story and Update.