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Just below the peak of Mount Chiliad, a huge mountain in the far north of San Andreas, a mysterious mural sits high atop a cliff face. It looks like a map of the mountain's interior—a network of tunnels that connect five small chambers and three large ones with what appear to be a UFO, an egg, and a jetpack within them. Whether it's actually a map isn't clear. Nearby, painted on the bottom edge of a lookout platform, are the words "come back when your journey is complete." And beneath that, painted on the ground, there's a red eye.
It's a strange and alluring set of odd, possibly related mysteries. And for most people who see them, that's all they are—a curiosity in a world full of curiosities that Rockstar made to give Grand Theft Auto V's setting a sense of being lived in.But for a diehard group of mystery hunters, and for the hundreds of thousands of intrigued onlookers who keep tabs on their work, these phenomena hold the key to something big. Possibly huge. It's a secret that may be of monumental significance, or that at the very least must involve something really cool: a hidden jetpack, maybe a UFO you can fly, or a super-awesome weapon. Whatever it is, these sleuthing gamers want it. And they won't stop until they either find it or prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the whole thing is one enormous wild goose chase.
These Truth Seekers have spent the past three years trading theories, studying strange signs around San Andreas, investigating paranormal phenomena, and poring over Grand Theft Auto V's data, resource, and script files in a relentless quest to solve the so-called Chiliad Mystery. It has been a tough journey, beset with more red herrings and dead-end leads than actual discoveries. But every day the community of secret hunters edges closer to cracking the code—if indeed there is a code to crack.
What's in the shed?
This epic three-years-and-counting odyssey began with a shed. Perched somewhere near the top of the mountain and visible in the background of that July 9, 2013, pre-release gameplay trailer, the shed was spotted by Reddit user Bertojones—who shared a screenshot on Imgur and r/gaming. "That damn shed" went viral. Everybody wanted to know what was in the shed. Theories ranged from the practical to the extraordinary. Some suggested it housed a safe or a jetpack, a parachute, or some other treasured object. The top commenter wryly speculated that the shed may turn out to be just a box with a door texture slapped on one side of it.
Fans spent the following three months arguing about the shed's contents and speculating on the presence of as many as three UFOs in an earlier GTA V trailer. When the game came out on September 17, they all hurried to the mountain and rode an aerial tramway to the top—whereupon they'd see a glyph of what looks like either an eye or a UFO above a mountain. With a bit of poking around, players soon discovered the mural, eye, and message.
This triggered more wild speculation, primarily clustered in two threads—one on GTAForums, the other on the GTA V subreddit. Within days, four more glyphs were discovered along with four UFOs. (User SuperMaruoBrassiere wrote a helpful timeline of early publicly recorded discoveries on GTAForums, for those curious about the details.) But amid widespread speculation and theorizing, nobody had a definitive answer to either what the mural meant or whether they had more to discover.
Much of the broader player base moved on within a month or so. They'd lost interest in trying to separate genuine discoveries from fake ones, and they were bored of searching. "This sh*t is getting old," one player wrote on October 25, capturing the mood. "I'm pretty sure there's nothing more to the mural, because it would've been solved by now."
But enough people disagreed that a vibrant mystery hunting community was able to survive three years and counting. These mystery hunters investigate anything and everything with the slightest possibility of being related to the mural, often then reinvestigating with a different character, or at a different time of day, or when it's raining (or not), or with a five-star wanted rating—because you never know what might trigger something. This attitude is borne out by actual conditions for some of the game's found Easter eggs, such as a UFO that only appears above Mount Chiliad at 3am in the rain.
Perhaps the most interesting discovery came when, in September 2015, Rockstar added an achievement called Cryptozoologist that had the following flavor text: "You unlocked all animals for use in Director Mode… or did you?" In Director Mode, you can control other "actors" in the game world, including birds and land-based animals, but you have to ingest a different peyote—a hallucinogenic plant—in order to unlock each animal.
Users StipularPenguin and Supakim1 dug through the game files and pulled out audio cues, peyote graphics, and scripts that might help find a hidden animal. Then, it was rkRusty who managed to put all the pieces together and actually discover the golden peyote. This gamer believed, from studying the scripts and vetting them in-game, this golden peyote spawned only on Tuesday between 5:30am and 8am when the weather was foggy and the player had collected all other peyotes and completed the mission The Last One, which involves helping a Bigfoot hunter.
However, it eventually came to light that there were actually seven golden peyotes—one for each day of the week—but nothing happened when players consumed them. In December 2015, Rockstar added the line, "He was wrong to start his hunt on Tuesday" to the script that had allowed rkRusty to identify the weather and time conditions. Nobody determined what this clue meant until this past June, when NIC779 ate the peyotes in the right order and found the Sasquatch hunter dead. Further investigation revealed more clues, but no answer, until Rockstar changed its message in the code to "his quarry seemed familiar." With help from the "codewalkers" decompiling some of the game's scripts, the community ultimately found their Easter egg this summer: a homage to Michael J. Fox's character in 1985 werewolf movie Teen Wolf.
IT IS the biggest mystery the world of video games has seen, with sleuths dedicating more than three years to solving the puzzle.
Despite countless theories and dedicated Reddit threads, the Grand Theft Auto V Chiliad Mystery remains unexplained to this day.
The mystery started after a trailer of the game was released, showing a shed positioned located on the top of Chiliad Mountain.
Gamers were immediately intrigued and set about heading to the mountain top to see what secrets the shed would hold when the game was released.
Upon reaching the location, people were greeted with a glyph and a mural containing a picture of a UFO, an Easter egg and a jetpack — items gamers believed would be unlocked from cracking the code.
In addition to these, players quickly found a message carved into the base of platform, which read “come back when your story is complete”.
The strange findings triggered wild speculation about they might mean, with people collaborating on GTA forums and Reddit in an attempt to discover answers.
Within days of being posted, eagle-eyed gamers found more glyphs, along with four UFOs — one of which can only be discovered above the mountain at 3am when it is raining in the game.
After the initial hype, interest began to dwindle and majority of players concluded the mural was simply a map to find the UFOs and nothing more.
“All the Easter eggs have been found,” users wrote.
Things took a strange turn when Rockstar Games re-released the game for PS4, Xbox One and PC, adding an achievement called Cryptozoologist.
The developers announced the achievement with a very vague message saying, “you unlocked all animals for use in Director Mode … or did you?”
Despite being oddly dubious, redditor rkRusty knew the achievement was related to peyote plants hidden in the game.
“The peyotes are 28 hallucinogenic plants located around Los Santos that let you play as birds and animals when eaten,” he told RedBull.
With the help of the Chiliad Mystery Reddit community, rkRusty was able to discover there was actually a golden peyote, which spawned between 5.30am and 8.00am on a Tuesday and only after players had collected the other peyotes, and completed a mission featuring Bigfoot.
It was later discovered there was, in fact, seven golden peyotes — each appearing on a different day of the week.
“I think people appreciate our discovery because it gave us something definitive to say we found, worked through and solved,” he said.
Unfortunately, after consuming all seven of the peyotes, rkRusty said nothing had occurred and the sleuths were back to square one.
It was here, GTA V developer Rockstar Games gave a hint in the game’s code.
“He was wrong to start his hunt on Tuesday,” the code read.
No one was able to determine what this meant, until redditor NIC779 ate all the golden peyotes in the correct order — starting on Sunday and when it was foggy in the game between 6am to 8am.
Completing this process triggered a cutscene showing the player evolving into Bigfoot, which opened up the quest to kill a beast with the appearance of Michael J. Fox’s character in 1985 werewolf movie Teen Wolf.
Killing the Teen Wolf allowed players to unlock him in Director Mode.
After learning players had achieved this, Rockstar once again changed the code to confirm the character was indeed homage to the 1985 horror film.
“His quarry seemed familiar,” the code read.
While the Bigfoot find might not be directly related to Chiliad Mountain, rkRusty believes it proves there was still more to be solved in the mystery.
“The peyote existed for a year before we found it, it was included with the launch of the PS4, Xbox One versions of the game,” he said.
“I’d say we were pretty slow to catch on, even needing a prompt [from Rockstar] to get started.”
With some suggesting the UFO and egg on the mural have been cracked with Bigfoot, the hunt has turned to the jetpack.
Much of the community believe there is hidden jetpack somewhere in the game — a theory fuelled by Rockstar’s 2004’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which was set in the same fictional state and contained a jetpack buried at the bottom of secret alien research facility.
Redditor BluntsAreBest — who is responsible for the Chiliad Mystery megathread — said he is constantly surprised by the attention the Chiliad mystery has been able to attract.
“I think the meta world that this conspiracy has caused is incredibly entertaining, if not totally insane,” he said.
“Over the years there have been subgroups that have tried to work together to solve it in a more methodical way, but everybody hits the same wall.
“Some subgroups even resemble cults: trying to preach the ‘truth’, that the answer to the Chiliad Mystery is actually Enlightenment.”
BluntsAreBest said he truly believes the jetpack is the final piece need to crack the puzzle.
“I think most people would agree the symbol on the mural is a Jetpack. There have been lines of code found relating to the Jetpack,” he told RedBull.
“I would be satisfied with only two outcomes: the Jetpack, or a proper explanation of the mural from Rockstar.
“If I don’t get either of those, I might just have to keep searching forever.”
Another Reddit user SSjS_Tarden has spent countless hours attempting to solve the mystery.
He admits he was first drawn in by the allure of the jetback, but admits to hoping it will be something more mystical.
“[I’m hoping for] an awesome alien gadget of some kind,” he told ArsTechnica.
The Redditor is no stranger to uncovering mysteries in the game, having been responsible for cracking the coded message from a tapping sound – only heard in the proximity to an underwater hatch.
Following a tip off from GTAForums, SSjS_Tarden ran the sound through a filter after ripping the audio from a YouTube clip.
He then wrote the coded message using a T’s, underscores and question marks to represent taps, pauses and indeterminate pauses, respectively.
From this information, he was able to discover it was morse code and learnt the first two words of the message were “hey, you”.
After turning to the community for help to decode the rest of the message, SSjS_Tarden was able to discover the full code was “Hey, you never call, how d’you fancy going bowling”.
He quickly learnt this code was nothing more than a reference to cousin Roman from GTA IV.
“I had worked hard to learn that,” he joked.
After spending so much time on the search, the gamer gave up on trying to debunk the mystery.
“I had some real-life things to deal with,” he said.
“I went from living the hunt day in and day out, morning ‘til night, to nothing.”
Although, the allure would be too much for gamer who is now actively on the search again.
SSjS_Tarden is currently spearheading an initiative to search a 36-square grid overlay of the GTA V map for anything players might have missed.
By searching every area of the game they hope to solve the mystery, which has plagued the gaming community for more than three years.
Have you tried to crack the Chiliad Mystery? Continue the conversation on Twitter or Facebook.