Ombra Reviews: Off (PC)
Released in 2008, Mortis Ghost and Unproductive Fun Time’s Off quickly gained a cult following, particularly after the English translation was released in 2011. The French Indie RPG game takes place in a bizarre world consisting of zones where you control the self-righteous character known as the Batter, whose goal is to purify each of the zones. You, the player, are also a character in the game and are addressed by several characters throughout.
Off follows a standard RPG formula; a turn-based attack system, leveling up and upgrading stats and gaining new party members as you progress throughout the game. You can also let the game fight for you automatically, which is particularly useful as the random fight encounters can be somewhat of a hinderance. Another difference is that attacks are assigned particular elements; smoke, meat, plastic, metal and sugar. There are puzzles that the player and Batter must complete in order to continue on to the next zone. They vary in difficulty and are often tailored to the setting on the zone they are placed in.
The story of Off is particularly interesting in that it brings conflict upon the player. As you uncover more of this strange world, you may find yourself doubting the choices that you’ve made and will be forced to make a critical choice at the end of the game. Being addressed directly by certain characters, especially the enigmatic Judge, was particularly disturbing. The characters are intriguing in that you don’t find out much about them, leading to fans of the game to develop theories around them and the world that they live in. Their designs are incredibly unique, and the warped art style is not something I had really seen before. The atmosphere of the game is deeply unsettling, although it is not always understood why. This is because the game leaves much of the interpretation up to the player, using abstract symbolism instead of spelling out the story for you, which I found particularly enjoyable because I love a good mystery.
I will say that this game is not for everyone, although it is worth checking out considering it is free. At first, I wasn’t really interested in playing it. I had seen some art of it on Tumblr and decided to check it out. I played about halfway through Zone 1 before I put the game down for a couple of weeks. It unsettled me enough that I didn’t want to keep playing it (I am also easily frightened, to be fair). The music is creepy but fitting, and certain songs always made me want to mute the game because it just felt wrong. But once I picked it back up, I couldn’t stop playing. It is a short game; it can easily be completed in a day so long as you’re willing to dedicate the hours to it. I recommend checking it out, especially if you’re interested in RPG’s similar to the Mother series.