The Grunt is a repulsive, humanoid being with a seemingly pieced-together body. It is unclear if it is a gruesomely disfigured human, or if it was artificially created in this state. Stitches and open scar-like wounds cover its pasty and stained skin, with bandages wound tightly around its feet and other parts of its torso. Its "skin" also functions as its clothing, as shown by the skirt-like protrusion of loose skin around its waist and the sound of rubbing skin made when it walks. Its head is malformed, with a distended, boneless jaw that hangs over its torso, stretched to an absurd length. There are clumps of hair still attached to its head.
Its eyes are large, bulging and reptilian. The Grunt is missing its fingers on the left hand (though the concept art displays another set of digits); they are instead replaced by a swollen club studded with crude blades, which serve as the creature's primary weapon, and are stained with blood; this indicates that the grunt has either attacked another person or other type of animal before or that the blades were attached in such a way that it caused the Grunt to bleed.
Idle Grunts can be seen and heard scratching themselves or whimpering, holding their hands to their mouths and looking around as if in fright. In spite of the possibility of a retained humanity, or basic animal intelligence, it does not stop them or cause any hesitation in them while they seek out, chase down, trap, and attempt to kill Daniel throughout the castle.
They cannot speak properly, owing to its inability to move what is left of its lower jaw and its apparent lack of a tongue. However, they are still capable of emitting a range of guttural growls, hisses, and noises. Upon paying close attention, its growls sound like an attempt at normal speech, for if it notices the player, it may make a garbled attempt to say "I see you", or "There you are." Its visual and auditory perception appears to be unimpaired, however, as they can easily notice Daniel if he is within viewing or hearing range.
Sometimes while idle, the Grunt can be seen and heard scratching itself or whimpering, as if crying. Its initial growl is the signal that it hears Daniel and is coming to investigate. Daniel can withstand a couple of blows from the Grunt, and while it's difficult to outrun when it sees Daniel fully, it does get confused fairly easily and thrown off the chase.
The intelligence of the Grunt is questionable, as it is rather inefficient at searching areas. It will also not notice Daniel if he's standing still and his head is not in view, unless there is a nearby light source such as a candle or the lamp. It can even be thrown off if Daniel hides behind a door or other object, even if it was obvious (to a functioning human) that Daniel was there.
It does seem that the Grunt has some intelligence, and perhaps emotions; if Daniel makes a loud noise, the Grunt may turn to look in fright with its hands to its mouth before searching. Overall, the intelligence of the Grunt is comparable to that of a young child.
An alternate theory is that the Grunt simply has no sense of "object permanence," much like infants. Meaning that if something (such as Daniel) disappeared from its sight, it believed that he has ceased to exist—or rather, thinking of objects existing outside its direct perception does not occur to its mind. This is evidenced by the fact that if Daniel hides, even in an area with only one means of escape, the Grunt does not register that he must still be in the room, as he had no other way of getting away.
The Grunt is encountered in the following locations:
- Old Archives (Audible)
- Archives (Hallucination)
- Wine Cellar (Visual)
- Guest Room
- Prison – Southern Block
- Prison – Northern Block
- Sewer (Deceased)
- Cells (Visual)
These encounters get truly dangerous from the Guest Room onwards. In the Refinery, the Grunt is not a threat unless you deliberately run towards it. The appearances in the Archives, Wine Cellar, and Cells are purely visual. In the Sewer, there is one dead Servant Grunt torn in three by the Shadow.
In the demo, the Servant Grunt in the Refinery will not attack you: even if you stand right next to it regardless if your Lantern is on or if you are near a torch, it won't be alarmed. If Daniel's sanity is low enough, an illusion of a Grunt chasing the player may be conjured, disappearing once close enough.
- The Grunt is a slow-moving enemy, as opposed to the Brute.
- In the Storage, a letter can be found written by Agrippa to Alexander entitled, "Regarding Explosive Mixture". When describing the explosive, Agrippa calls Alexander's servants "featherbrained". As Agrippa likely wrote this sometime in the 16th century, this could contradict the theory the Grunts are Wilhelm and his men. This also supports the idea of the Grunts lacking intelligence.
- The first Servant Grunt you encounter in the Prison doesn't seem to attack you as long as you run away. It will not give chase either.
- Developer Commentary in the Wine Cellar heavily implies that the Grunt, at least, was once a soldier who drank the bad wine in one of the side rooms and ended up malformed by the reaction they had to it. Thomas Grip states that the "strange creatures that lurk around Brennenburg" already glimpsed in the Archives and soon to be glimpsed in the Wine Cellar have its origins told in flashbacks in the level. The flashbacks, coupled with the rough stitching and scars around the body of the Grunt, adds further weight to this.
- As shown on the right, a collection of very old first concept arts by the artist Jonas Steinick Berlin depict the Grunt more human-like and wearing 18th/19th-century clothing. Thomas Grip thought it was too funky and resembling the Swedish children's frog character Grodan Boll, so Jonas redesigned this creature to be more realistic and unsettling.
- The Grunt appears to be struggling to breathe in one of its ambient sound files, indicating that it has damaged lungs caused by the disfigurement of drinking the poisoned wine.
- It is possible that one of the men who tortured the prisoners in order to extract vitae for Alexander was actually the Grunt in disguise. If you look closer at the posters inside the torture rooms in the Transept, you will see that two of the torturers have familiar characteristics with the Grunt. One has a deformed leg and the other has blades instead of fingers similar to the creature.
- The Grunt seems to be more intelligent than people give it credit for, as it manages to capture Daniel in the Chancel, which he can't escape.
- If Daniel's health is full (100 hitpoints), he can survive a few blows from the Grunt. If the Grunt does a normal attack, it simply swings its bladed left hand while standing in place. This will inflict 55 hit points of damage on Daniel at maximum depending on how far away from the Grunt he is. If the Grunt does an aggressive attack, that is to say, a swing while running at full speed, it will inflict 60 hit points of damage to him at a minimum depending on how far away the Grunt is.
- It is actually possible for a Grunt to destroy a door even if it is only a hallucination, it can be demonstrated in the level editor.
- In The Games Of Madness: Birth of a Monster. Part 1. - Blogpost
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