Creepy Things That Seem Real But Aren’t: Killswitch

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.

You can reach this post's author, Lucia Peters, on twitter.
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    • Allison

      I always read these articles when I’m home alone at night – annnnd find myself looking over my shoulder. I’m definitely going to check out that site. Love this series!

      • Lucia Peters

        Good to know I’ve got some company! Glad you’re enjoying the series!

      • Cara

        I thought I was the only one! I have to have all the lights on when I read these posts haha

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    • Goblin

      What’s really mysterious is that the links for Space Paranoids and Starfighter redirect to the Wikipedia page for Tron and The Wizard (Movie), respectively.

    • just a normal guy

      i read that one guy bought the game and recorded the gameplay but the video was just him looking at screen and crying

    • Shiv

      shame the game is actually real though a quick google search will prove this over and over nice research you did i.e. none…

      • Breana Clark

        Real? Nope. There’s a game called Kill Switch, but it’s not the same thing… This KillSwitch really is fictional (at least until someone makes their own version of it). Unless you’d like to give some evidence to the contrary, that is.

        And, the bulk of this article is just a “creepypasta”, although I don’t know what site it’s originally from… the only thing this author wrote is the last paragraph.

      • Albert Einstein

        This game is real I don’t care if u believe me or not but I played it when I was 14 in England when I used to live there I played as Porto (of course) and the game was fun and suspenseful of what would happen next so this game is real no matter what you say or throw at people (sarcasm) it will still be real and it still will always be a mystery of ghast’s fate when the game deleted itself I didn’t think anything of it and just played another game.

      • Breana Clark

        Do you have any proof it was real? All sources (apart from Creepypasta/mythos stuff that present it as real for the sake of the story) say that KIllSwitch was fake and there seem to be no records of an actual Karvina Corporation.
        Someone’s even written an academic paper about this (fake) game.
        If it were real, they probably would have found something about it in the course of their research.

        I’d love it if the game was real, it sounds fascinating.
        However, while I wasn’t around to play games in the late 80s, it seems to me like the technology to make a game delete itself would not have existed in 1989.
        And, really, I find it a little hard to believe that, if you had really played it until it deleted itself that you would have thought nothing of it and just played another game… it would have frustrated the hell out of me if that happened.

        There’s really no need to be rude, I’m just stating what facts I have found. I heard the creepypasta and thought it was really, really cool and maybe based in fact, so I did some research, hoping to find some stuff out about it, and all I can find is that it is a completely fake (but so awesome) story about a game that seems to have never existed.

        Could you give me some more details about the game you played? I’m really interested if there’s a chance the game might have been real… email me, even, if you like. iheartllawliet (at) aol (dot) com

      • Sameoldnew

        He’s lying on the Internet to feel special.

      • flamein man

        i played as ghast for a bit and if you look in a mirror your Porto i ended up never playing it again because it was to hard and i was a little kid like 12 im sure if you found that computer and fixed it it might still be on there sense i never beat it but good luck finding it

      • Fernando Hernandez Perez
      • Albert Einstein

        So this version of the game is real actually reAl so get your facts right 10 year old on the computer fanboy of the xbox version.This version is real and there nothing u can do about it

      • daff3ww

        if this game is fake i wonder what the japanes man bought

      • Breana Clark

        It’s just part of the creepypasta. I can’t find a Japanese man named Yamamoto Ryuichi who bought Killswitch. If someone could turn up a (legit) record of the sale, that would be one thing. But, really, it just seems that this guy was invented for the sake of the story. If you have evidence to the contrary, that would be awesome, though.
        This story fascinates me. While it’s probably fake, it’s such a well-written tale that it almost seems like it could be true. Except for the fact that there’s no information except things that stem from the creepypasta, and then people making footage and fake webpages or whatever to go with the creepypasta.

      • Michal Wojcik

        Cathrynne Valente wrote the story (probably most famous for her novel “Palimpsest”)–you can find it in her collection “The Melencholy of Mechagirl” with publication info indicating it was originally posted on “Invisible Games”.

        Frankly, I think it’s the best thing she’s ever done.

      • Breana Clark

        Ah, thank you! I knew it was originally on Invisible Games, but I didn’t know the author was known. This is an incredible tale.
        I’ve always been partial to the weird (non-existent) games with awesome backstories… Polybius is another good example, although not nearly as detailed as Killswitch.

        Thank you again. She is a genius, this is probably the best creepypasta-type tale about a (fake) game ever.

    • Wyatt Meckler

      The game, or something similar to the game, exists. here’s the link to KarvinaCorp’s (apparent) youtube channel. the gameplay matches how the game supposedly played pretty closely.

    • Kira Yamato

      where can i get the video..?

    • Johnny

      Love to see some actual video footage here. yeah

    • RPM

      One could complete the story, the reason the Japanese guy was crying on the character select screen is because he finally realized “fck, i just spend almost $1,000,000 on the 2D piece of crap~!” (even if it is a nice game, 1 million bucks….)

    • Mark Sadabar

      the game is real, a guy named ghast1989 posts footage of it and it seems really believable. Could be a nice ARG, though, considering Karvina is trying to hunt him down or something.

    • 1idek11

      Follow the real Karvina Corp on twitter. Making a fake twitter is illegal so… and KC would’ve done something about it because they sended out a hitman just for a comeback.

      • Sameoldnew

        Making a fake twitter or Facebook is NOT illegal kid.