Guys. I’m kind of freaked out right now.
That’s partially my fault. I’m in a confusing part of the internet right now, and it’s midnight, and I’m trying to figure out this creepy game I’m playing. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It was in Rolling Stone. It was on Vice. It was on The Hollywood Reporter. It’s been viewed over a million times across various big YouTube channels. It was even on Kotaku.com...almost two years ago.
In 2013, a humble little (unofficial) JRPG called Kanye Quest made a splash online thanks in large part to its novel premise. Basically, on his way to take out the trash, fictional Kanye somehow travels through a wormhole into the future. Yeah, really. In this future, Kanye gets sucked into a prophecy that involves clones, Tupac, and all sorts of other rap figures like Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre—all of which Kanye can duke it out with via turn-based rap battle.
Many people played through the hilarious game, defeated Lil’ B, and saw the ending. You can see a normal playthrough here, courtesy of videogamedunkey:
You’d think that would be that, but for whatever reason, the game started floating around again earlier this year. On January 28th, 2015, an anonymous user uploaded a Pastebin where they described what happened after they got an itch to play through the game again, randomly. According to this person, they had played the game before, but had never beaten it. So they decided to change that. It’s a kind of suspicious story, but roll with it for a second here.
After getting to an early portion of the game, they noticed that one of the terminals that Kanye can interact with displayed this message:
At first glance, that seems like gibberish. But it’s not. “I realized it said ‘ASCEND and worship The Based God,’” the poster wrote on Pastebin. “I thought ‘oh, cool fluff messages’ and just kept walking.”
A little later in the game, you come across a lady that asks you a question:
The game then gives you a prompt.
You can enter anything you’d like, and the character will simply say she wants that too:
It seems like a joke, which is probably why nobody thought anything of this portion of the game when it first made the rounds. For whatever reason, the anonymous player decided to input “ascend” onto this prompt, as it was one of the potential words displayed on the gibberish screen from before. To their surprise, the screen flashed, and they were teleported here:
Now, when it comes to a game that’s about battling rap clones that are thousands of years old, maybe having a portion of the game involve a butterfly doesn’t seem outlandish. But what you have to understand is that prior to this Pastebin from January, nobody had come across this part of the game before. Nobody had seen this. Nobody knew it was in there; there are no references to this portion of the game in any of the write-ups or YouTube videos that originally covered it.
It is here that the game reveals its true nature to the player, however. Here, the player is greeted with the following text:
Congratulations! You have proven yourself to be an open-minded and curious thinker. We must apologise for deceiving you, but we can reveal that the game you were playing until this point was a ‘front’ constructed to protect what you are currently accessing. We must ask that you do not reveal this area to the public. If you believe that you may be prone to revealing information, or do not wish to participate, please close this program immediately by pressing ALT-F4 or selecting the NO option when it appears. By selecting the YES option, you agree to participate and not reveal information.
Here is what the game says if you select ‘YES’:
The following is a thought exercise designed to help teach you something beneficial. By undertaking this exercise, you will hopefully be affected in a positive way. Due to the nature of the exercise, this “something” cannot be revealed immediately. This exercise may or may not be restricted to this software. It is important to remember that the purpose of this exercise is to benefit you. You will not be timed. We cannot provide any more information, except that we wish you good luck. You may begin now. Welcome to your ascension.
It is at this point in the story that the Pastebin seems like a load of bullshit, yeah? Like the sort of thing that practically screams “I AM A SHITTY ATTEMPT AT CREEPYPASTA.” Still, I was intrigued—I’m a sucker for these sorts of things. So I downloaded Kanye Quest 3030 once more, and I tried out the steps outlined in the Pastebin. And...they worked.
I shit you not. They worked. I’ve done it multiple times, and every time the game takes me to the strange screen. It’s all in there: the butterfly, the terminals, the drab color scheme. As far as I can tell, all of this stuff was in the game to begin with, people just didn’t find it—the independently-owned site I downloaded this from, RPGMaker.net, says the file was uploaded on 7/22/2013, and has not been updated since.
The curious thing about the secret portion of the game is that it is full of terminals that the player can go up to and interact with. None of them do anything—they simply give you a roman numeral, and then ask you to input a word. Without this word, you can’t move forward. There are a ton of these terminals, each one acting as a gate.
[Source: Ben Nine]
Stuck and unsure of what to do, the original poster says they tried contacting the developer to no avail. They tried contacting other people involved with the game, and didn’t get very far either. Eventually they decided to data mine the game, and that’s where they found a number of passwords that all corresponded to each of the terminals. The passwords are a mix of common, every day words like ‘hatch” and “idle,” and strange words like “Jagatai” and “Flacon.”
I spent over 40 minutes inputting each and everyone one of the passwords into their individual terminals to make sure this was all legit, and every time I got through one of these segments, the screen got progressively darker and darker:
Eventually, I could barely make out anything—the only thing I could hear was the repeated unsettling tone that the game plays over and over in this section of the game. On the final terminal screen, however, the game flashes once more and teleports you to...a blank screen. When this happened to me, I thought I had crashed the game or something. It didn’t seem like I could move. But when I pressed the inventory button, the game brought the menu up, so it was indeed working. I wandered aimlessly on this white screen for a while, and every so often the game would throw a random encounter at me. The enemy was also blank—no sprite. It was named “JFZZJNMS,” and it would disappear immediately after going into battle. I have no idea why that’s in there or what it means, but it’s in there.
Anyway, after wandering around on this blank hellscape for a little bit, I eventually came across a final terminal, which I promptly used. I was so excited I booted up Bandicam to try to record it, but I didn’t realize that my hotkey for recording is also the same hotkey for closing the game—so I didn’t get to see all of what the final terminal says first hand, though I can confirm that it exists and you can interact with it.
The Pastebin says this is what the terminal says when you use it:
You have proven your worth once again. You have ascended. However, further ascension is always possible. If you do not wish to ascend further, your journey ends here, so please close this program by pressing ALT-F4 or selecting the NO option above. By selecting the YES option, you agree to participate further and you grant us permission to interact with your possessions. Would you like to participate?
If you choose NO, you get sent to the title screen. If you choose YES, it shows this:
Over the following two week time period, we will interact with you and your possessions in several ways. Keep an eye out, as some of these ways may be subtle. Others may not be. We may attempt to contact you directly. If we do this, we will attempt to notify you of our prescence using a key-word. If you still consent to participation, please select the YES option above. Do you wish to participate?
Apparently, if you say yes, the game asks you for your name and your address. The Pastebin says that if you give the game your information, it thanks you and says “Enjoy the next two weeks and await instruction.” Weird, huh?
Somehow, this gets stranger. The Pastebin notes that it does not seem like the information actually gets sent anywhere, nor has the poster noticed anything strange in their everyday life since discovering the game. But still: what is the point of this creepy optional area? I tried contacting the developer, but they didn’t get back to me. The last update on the official website was on 08/23/13. (Curiously, the theme on the Tumblr is called “Accent.”)
I can only speculate as to the purpose of the optional area. It could have been that the developer was just having some fun. It could be that they included it to bring more attention to the game, on the off-chance someone found it. The entire discovery on the Pastebin seems a little suspicious to me. That said, the area itself is genuinely unnerving, especially when compared to the rest of the game.
The Pastebin has a very particular interpretation of the hidden area of the game. According to this anonymous poster, the game seems like it’s a recruitment tool for a cult. Specifically, the Ascension Cult—hence the name of the first password, and the repeated mentions of the word “ascending,” not just in the game, but in some of the promotinal materials for the game, too.
Here is how the Pastebin describes the cult—do note that I cannot confirm if this is at all relevant. If I reprint it here, it’s because I’m reporting what the most popular theory about the Kanye West JRPG is, as of a few months ago:
Ascensionism is a New Age cult that goes back to at least 2006. Its main beliefs focus around there being two spirits that make up a whole being. A physical spirit, the body, and an ethereal spirit, the soul. Long story short, souls live lifetime after lifetime until they reach a point where they are judged by themselves after a death and, upon deciding they have been sufficiently good, destroy themselves and become primordial soulstuffs from which new souls form.
Apparently, orthodox Ascensionism believes that all souls, before combining with the spirit of the body, form pacts with the souls of all beings that they will encounter into the future. This leads to the ascentionist belief that any harm done to a person was agreed upon prior by their soul during a contract signing with the other person’s soul and that they were, quite literally, “asking for it”, thus justifying any harm they can perpetrate against people.
They also believe that if a person is cloned, their soul is split into two parts, and as such, they do not truly die until the clones are dead because any soul from a dead clone or originator will just wander until it finds another clone with the same host spirit and will combine with it.
This is bad, to ascentionists. They believe that if a soul lives on for too long, it becomes corrupted by the bad circumstances it has accumulated and will become evil and twisted over time because they cannot be purged of their experiences by death to start anew. They believe that souls that become evil and are wandering from clone to clone are the “shadow people” that people see in the corners of their eyes. According to them, there is some ancient group of 9 people or so who have lived for centuries by cloning themselves repeatedly and indefinitely, and their clones are what constitute the majority of the “shadow people” seen today (not really centuries, per se, because ascentionists measure time in eons that are determined by a certain number of lifetimes a spirit has, but you get me.) This goes back to the plotline of the game, where all of the evil characters were continued clones of rappers who had accumulated evil by being alive for so long and never truly dying, while the good characters, aside from Kanye, were clones that had been dormant for so long that they couldn’t accumulate the bad energies gained through experience.
The Pastebin postulates that maybe the game was an alternate reality game used by a cult as a recruitment tool, the idea being that anyone that solves it would be worthy of gaining membership. Truthfully, I don’t know if I buy this. Part of the proof that the Pastebin uses is a different ARG game, which it claims was used by cultists as a means of recruiting members. That ARG supposedly uses a lot of the same weird words that this Kanye West JRPG does. But when I looked into it, all of the things documenting the older ARG are dead links. In general, a lot of the ‘evidence’ used about cults in the Pastebin leads to dead ends, threads that mysteriously stop updating suddenly, or links that go nowhere.
This might be enough to make you think twice about accepting the popular theory around this game. Other crackpot theories include the possibility that maybe the game was meant to be an ARG for the movie Jupiter Ascending. But even if it’s not a weird cult thing/marketing for some brand, the fact the game was hiding this all along is still really creepy. The area itself is eerie, and going through it makes you wonder why in the world anyone would make something like this. And lets be real, the dead ends surrounding this game only make it seem that much weirder, no?
If the entire thing is a hoax meant to drum up more attention for Kanye Quest, then I applaud the developer. On its own, the game was already really cool—that’s why it blew up originally. This new element discovered earlier this year elevates the game further, and makes it one of the best Creepypastas on the internet right now. But unlike most internet scary stories, you can actually experience a good chunk of it on your own, if you’d like. The game is downloadable, after all.
Have fun. Don’t give your info out to any weird cultists while you’re at it.
[Image via Getty]