OFF: immersive, bizarre, highly recommended
The way I pick games to write about varies. Sometimes, it’s a game I think needs more recognition, a game that is a little-known gem, or a game that gets a lot of bad rep due to its fan base. And sometimes I pick games because I get to write the coolest sentence ever about it.
The game OFF, by Mortis Ghost, is a Belgian surrealist puzzle-based RPG with horror elements, originally released in 2008 in French. Since then, there have been fans that have translated it into numerous other languages, with an English translation released in 2011. The game is free-to-play, and it’s recommended to use your real name and gender pronouns upon launch for maximum immersion.
Upon launch, OFF asks your name and how you would like to be referred to, before instructing you that you are in control of a separate character by the name of “The Batter.” Other than that, the only “instructions” given are to make sure that his goal is successful. All other information about the game world is given by non-player characters, who are not always the most reliable of sources.
The world is full of specters and symbolism: from names reminiscent of serial murderers to weaponry that makes allusions to the Trinity of Christianity. Everything in this game is designed to keep the player on their toes, from random encounters that have one of my favorite soundtracks in gaming, to trying to wrap your head around how this world survives. There are four elements in this game; instead of the familiar fire, water, earth, and air that we expect, they are replaced with plastic, metal, meat, and smoke.
It’s a short game overall; it would probably take less than five hours to complete, depending on how much you wander from the beaten trail to search for secrets.
Interested? I certainly was. Without spoiling the game, the story is as fantastic as it is bizarre, with enough unanswered questions to maintain a curious fanbase even a decade after its original release. There are not jump scares per se, although it’s possible to get startled by the random encounters, or some of the game imagery, but I would highly recommend giving OFF a try.