If the bizarre and unusual is lacking in a gamer’s life, look no further than OFF. Originally in French, OFF was developed and published by Mortis Ghost & Unproductive Fun Time, then translated by Reconstructed Game Team.
Made using RPG Maker 2003, OFF is a richly fulfilling game that uses turn-based combat and odd metaphors to deconstruct the modern notion of industry. With the tagline “Caution – Certain scenes in this game could be immensely shocking to an unwarned public. Or not! maybe….”, the game certainly presents a level of tongue-in-cheek that will keep any game interested.
The Batter is the protagonist of the story, a character simply looking to “purify” the world with the guidance of the player (who is actually directly referenced by multiple characters within the game). “Spectres” are the main enemy of the game, which are ghost-like apparitions that come in a wide variety of forms to harass the inhabitants of the many zones (read: levels) of OFF.
The story is often perplexing as it is intriguing; many hints are given after taking down bosses or via text spoken by NPCs. The many characters of the game are what make the journey worth going, with characters such “The Judge,” a cat-creature who seems to be able to appear at will and gives the game a very direct “Alice in Wonderland” feel. The Judge delivers riddle-like clues and cryptic hints. Some bits of the story can get dense and hard to follow, but ultimately the presentation is enough to keep the train on track.
The cryptic messages and weird images shown to players throughout the game are what gives OFF its appeal as the gameplay is sadly lackluster in some regards. While the puzzles offer a fair bit of challenge, the turn-based battles are a tad easy, with a few challenges mixed in (mostly during boss fights). However, an experienced RPG player will be able to recognize patterns quickly (attack, cure status, heal, repeat) and topple over many of the game’s adversaries.
On the flip side, the game directs players where to go (directly or indirectly based on text or context clues). The controls are fairly straightforward and the combat system has no major learning curve. This allows OFF’s story to shine through, but perhaps at a cost due to the repetitive nature of fights.
Luckily for the repetitive fights, the design of the game’s enemies will spark imagination and wonder in any player. A weird black & white cartoon art-style creates a huge assortment of intensely horrifying enemies varying from the cliché “sheet-ghost” to office works spewing black “ooze” from nearly every orifice on their body. Almost as if walking through a Marilyn Manson music video, OFF’s distinctive art style is supremely top-notch and will inspire many restless nights.
The music score and sound effects will only add to this nightmare rollercoaster as the confusing noises (many resembling cries for help or other eerie effects) create a severely traumatizing experience. The story itself is very odd, but the graphics and sound are what really sell the hellish fever-dream of Mortis Ghost.
The only real complaint to be made is in the sound, which sadly suffers from the problem most horror soundtracks succumb to in that eventually the ear will numb itself to the terror.
The ride through OFF is nothing but odd and engaging. While many of the fight’s will seem fairly passé, the story with its intense images and eerie sounds will keep players fully gripped and seeking answers. The game itself is entirely free to download, which is also a nice touch, and doesn’t require a lot of technical knowledge to run smoothly (however there are instructions should OFF have any issue starting up).
If lacking of a decent RPG, OFF is a great way to fill that void and will keep any gamer incredibly enthralled, but players be warned, “Certain scenes in this game could be immensely shocking to an unwarned public. Or not! maybe….”