Creepy Things That Seem Real But Aren’t is a series that explores modern urban legends, bringing you a new tale each week.
In 1989, a small company known as the Karvina Corporation released a strange computer game. game. An early example of the survival horror genre, this game was said to have similarities to later games Myst and Silent Hill. So few people, however, have played this game that we have only the word of a handful that these similarities exist. Because this game had a unique feature: It automatically deleted itself once finished. It was not recoverable, and it could not be copied. It was a one-time event that existed only in the moments between the player’s initial start of the game and the player’s last move. The game was called KILLSWITCH.
At the game’s opening screen, players had the option to play as one of two characters: A visible human woman named Porto, or an invisible demon called Ghast. Ghast’s invisibility, by the by, didn’t just mean that he was invisible to the non-player characters that populated the game. No; he was fully invisible, such that the player couldn’t even see where he was. No players have ever been known to have successfully completed the game as Ghast. Both Ghast and Porto had unique abilities, which made the game experience completely different depending on who players chose to use: Porto would grow or shrink in size randomly (the player had no control over where or when), and Ghast breathed fire.
The gameplay was as follows:
Porto awakens in the dark with wounds on her elbows and no idea how she got there. As she searches for a way out of this strange dark place, it becomes apparent that she is moving through the levels of a coal mine at which she was once an employee. The mine, however, has been shut down and is now populated with demons like Ghast, dead foremen, coal golems, and inspectors from a coal mining corporation called Sovatik. There are no “bosses” as such; the game consists solely of Porto moving through tunnels—her size helping or hindering her as it continues to change unpredictably.
What happened to the mine to land it in its current state? Porto discovers its fate as she journeys through it. After a ridiculously complex puzzle involving the cracking of difficult cipher, Porto discovers that the mine had been under extreme pressure to increase coal production, which led to the foremen falsifying reports of malfunctions to explain the low output. The false reports prompted Sovatik instigate what they called an “inspection.” This “inspection,” a series of crude but horrifying graphics reveal, consisted of red-coated men inserting small knives into the joints of the workers whenever production slowed. In the workers’ defense, the “fires of the earth”—assumed to be demons like Ghast—awakened the hearts of the mining equipment. Driven made by the now-sentient machines, the inspectors (and their knives) vanished into the mine. The machines, though allegedly intended to avenge the workers, were both massive in size and indiscriminate in scope; they would destroy anything in their paths, including the workers they were supposed to be protecting. During the chaos, Porto was knocked into a chasm, where the fumes she inhaled caused her size to begin fluctuating uncontrollably.
Eventually, Porto escapes with a tape recorder containing the mine’s terrible story. But as she crawls through the final tunnel, the screen goes white.
That is the end of the game.