The ghul is a base djinni, a thing of fear, of trickery and shadow, dwelling in the deep places of the world. When it scents human flesh, it digs through the sand to the world above to snare the unwary traveller.Luciano of Ravenna, "Ghul Text" fragment
Ghouls (alternatively spelled Ghûl), also known as Harvesters, are the first enemies encountered in Amnesia: Rebirth, attacking Tasi Trianon at any chance they get. These creatures were once human, transformed into monstrosities. They are from the other-worldly dimension in which the Empress presides.
Ghouls somewhat resemble zombies, although they are still alive when transformed and continue to retain some of their former intelligence. They have an unnaturally slender figure which makes it easy for them to crawl through the tight tunnels they make. Bulging veins cover most of its body, seeming spreading from the eyes in the early stages of the transformation, but reach down at least as far as the arms and wrists.
Their skin shows exposed flesh in its most prevalent body parts such as the mouth, upper arms, and calves to feet. The Ghoul's full mouth of teeth are continually exposed by a lack of lips. The teeth they have are very sharp and pointed, and their bite-marks apparently resemble the those of carnivores enough that their attacks are frequently mistaken for animal attacks (such as a lion, jackal, or hyena).
Ghouls are sadistic, erratic, and strong, able to break metal bars and walls. Ghouls have animalistic personalities, attacking any human that comes their way, in the earlier stages of corruption one might be able to demonstrate their former personality in a mix of anger, hunger, fear and despair as it was demonstrated by Leon de Vries.
Compared to the Gatherers from The Dark Descent or the Manpigs from A Machine for Pigs, Ghouls have higher intelligence and cognitive function. They can sense the player when they throw objects from the opposite direction. Additionally, the former companions of Tasi who turn into Ghouls are still able to recognize her, to speak coherently, and to consciously blame her for their condition.
The first, primary symptoms of the Harvester transformation are black tendrils that creeps into the skin around the eyes and into the eyes themselves, obscuring the victim's vision and growing with the individual's negative emotional states–namely fear, anguish, and pain. Black-outs, gaps of memory, and generalized short term amnesia grow during transformation period, along an increasing loss of one's sense of humanity. A "hunger" follows that is apparently never satisfied by killing or eating, and this hunger eventually becomes uncontrollable, at which point the transformation is virtually complete.
Events of Amnesia: Rebirth
After the crew of the Cassandra survives their crash and is contacted by the Empress, she entices them to drink water from the fountain of her shrine, which heals their injuries and allows them to survive without food and water. They do not realize their grim future and the properties of the water, soon inflicting them with the Harvester transformation. Darkness lingers and grows on their eyes, fear and anger arise, and a sense of humanity slowly degrades — this transformation is evident by Leon’s notes and drawings of Hank. The Ghouls encountered out through Tasi's journey are evidence of the Empress’s use of humans, whom she can manipulate easily and evidently has been manipulating for millennia, to satisfy her desire for vitae.
The "job" of the Harvester is to extract pain and suffering from humans, which they then deposit into devices that ultimately procure vitae. They are under the service of the Empress and sometimes serve her for vitae she grandly desires for maintaining her health and immortality. In other cases, they roam in desolate places, such as Al-Mamaru Fort.
They seem to be trained by overseers (such as Kharangi) in The Hunting Grounds before they start their job. Also, they seem to need a stalking distance of more than "30 idar" for accumulation of enough vitae in the victims.
Ghouls act similar to many enemies in previous games. Typically, they would walk around a certain area for sometime, but unlike previous enemies, can sense where the player generally is by sniffing their "fear".
Similarly to how staring at monsters drops sanity in Amnesia: The Dark Descent, staring at Ghouls will induce fear. According to Tasi, these enemies can sense her fear. This is implied by the inhaling, sniffing sounds of Ghouls that can be heard if the player is close enough. With these senses, they are able to follow the player, even if they have never seen or heard the player. These characteristics make Ghouls more dangerous than Gatherers and the Manpigs. Therefore, they should not be taken lightly and the player needs to be cautious about the surroundings.
It is best to keep an open ear for their periodic growls and footsteps for when they roam. Always study your surroundings, scout them with caution and have a plan to hide whenever you get spotted, lose them in the process as well to ensure you're completely safe. Never look at them especially when hiding, increasing fear will make it easier for them to find you.
One interesting facet about the Ghouls is that, following your encounter within the Fortress, areas where Ghouls are often found can be identified by one of several things. Firstly, the presence of a lot of gore in the general area, followed by a room that is typically dimly lit. Secondly, one can see the presence of a lot of holes in the wall, which Ghouls use to get to multiple places in the map to get a jump on the player. Lastly, one can readily identify if a Ghoul encounter is about to happen by the presence of greenish-white orbs of light in the area, just right before a Ghoul encounter will be triggered, such as the Cistern and the Chamber of Pillars.
Ghouls appear in the following locations:
- The Cave (visual)
- The Fortress (first hostile encounter)
- The Cistern
- The Chamber of Pillars (optional)
- The Hunting Grounds
- The Catacombs
- The Portal Chamber (after returning from The Catacombs)
- French Foreign Legion garrison at Al-Mamaru Fort
- Jonathan Webber
- Alex Sterling
- Malick Tamboura (by Hank Mitchell post-transformation)
- Richard Fairchild (by Tasi Trianon during a transformation episode)
- Anton Metzier (by Tasi Trianon during a transformation episode)
- Leon De Vries (half-transformed)
- Hank Mitchell (half-transformed)
- Yasmin Chabani (minimally-transformed)
- Tasi Trianon ("Harvester" ending)
- Ghouls might have been the inspiration for Alexander to create Gatherers. Their purpose is the same (harvesting Vitae from the victims) and their transformations are very similar (drinking a "contaminated" liquid).