Off (video game)
Official banner art
|Developer(s)||Unproductive Fun Time|
|Designer(s)||Mortis Ghost / Martin Georis|
|Composer(s)||Alias Conrad Coldwood|
|Engine||RPG Maker 2003|
Mac OS X
Off (stylized as OFF) is a French-language role-playing video game released in 2008 by the Belgian team Unproductive Fun Time, consisting of Martin Georis ("Mortis Ghost") and Alias Conrad Coldwood. It has garnered a sizable following for its story, characters and atmosphere, particularly after its officially sanctioned fan translation into English. It is about an enigmatic humanoid entity known as the Batter, who is described as being on a "sacred mission" to "purify" the world of Off. The Batter travels through four bizarre Zones in the world, revealing more about the world as the game goes on.
The gameplay of Off is similar to that of classic RPGs. The Batter advances by leveling up, acquiring new party members, and upgrading his statistics, such as attack and defense, as well as gaining special abilities termed "competences." The player can allow combat to take place automatically by selecting the "Auto" option during encounters, which will make the Batter and his Add-Ons act without player input. The battle system also features an unorthodox element system, where rather than "classic" elements often found in RPGs, such as fire or ice, Off uses bizarre elements more commonly thought of as materials: smoke, metal, plastic, meat, and sugar.
There are four numbered Zones, labeled 0-3, along with a fifth zone, The Room, in which the final act of the game takes place. The Zones are only accessible once the player obtains their associated "Zodiac-Cards," which are acquired from the previous Zone's Guardian upon death, and the player traverses between them via a map termed the "nothingness."
One notable feature of Off is its unusual number of puzzles. Some of these puzzles are exceptionally difficult to solve, such as finding a multi-digit password and entering it into a giant keypad, locating missing book pages, or "repeating room" puzzles where players walk through multiple instances of the same room in the right order to escape, while others are more intuitive.
The player assumes control of the Batter, a man in a baseball uniform on a "sacred mission" to "purify the world". After receiving guidance from a talking cat called the Judge, the Batter begins to make his way through four Zones, killing malevolent ghost-like creatures called "spectres" and the Guardian of each Zone in order to "purify" the Zone. As the Batter progresses in his quest, it is ultimately revealed that the Zones are tied to the Guardians' life force and that killing the Guardians will annihilate all life in the Zones; this outcome is the Batter's true objective. The Batter eventually reaches an area called the Room and faces the Queen, ruler of all the Zones. She admonishes him for the destruction he has caused and attacks him, but is defeated.
After killing the Queen, the Batter finds and kills Hugo, the child who brought him and the Queen into existence. The Batter then comes across a switch that will allow him to finish his mission, but is confronted by the Judge. The Judge berates both the Batter and the player for deceiving him and destroying the Zones and asks the player to help him to defeat the Batter.
In the Official Ending, the player must side with the Batter and kill the Judge, allowing the Batter to flip the switch. Doing so displays "The switch is now OFF," as the world fades to black. In the Special Ending, the player sides with the Judge and defeats the Batter to stop his crusade. The Judge remarks that "all that is left are regrets," but prefers this outcome to the Batter completing his mission. During the Special Ending's credits, the Judge is seen walking through the purified Zones.
A third Secret Ending can be accessed if the player collects the Aries-Card and reaches either of the normal endings. This joke ending revolves around so-called "Space Apes" in a war against brain-like aliens. The Space Apes describe their plan to construct factories in the now-lifeless world of Off to produce robots capable of killing the aliens.
Off has been praised for its story, characters, and atmosphere. Heidi Kemps of PC Gamer described it as "a memorable and haunting RPG, filled with tricky puzzles, bizarre symbolism, and challenging thematic elements." Adam Smith of Rock, Paper, Shotgun compared it to Space Funeral.
A large fanbase for the game developed on Tumblr; Off became the sixth most reblogged game of 2013, with the first five being AAA games. Off has been compared to the Mother series, though Georis has stated that the resemblance is coincidental.
- Georis, Martin. "OFF". Unproductive Fun Time (in French). Retrieved 28 April 2019.
- Nizam, Adam (8 November 2016). "Exploring The Motherlike: Or, The Genre That Never Was". Paste.
- Iwant (30 November 2013). "Hardcore Gaming 101: OFF". Hardcore Gaming 101. Archived from the original on 29 December 2017.
- Polson, John (28 May 2012). "Freeware Game Pick: OFF [English Translation] (Unproductive Fun Time)". IndieGames.com.
- Kemps, Heidi (31 July 2015). "A beginner's guide to JRPGs on PC". PC Gamer.
- Smith, Adam (28 May 2012). "A Bat, A Cat, A World Of Weird: OFF". Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
- "Most Reblogged in 2013: Video Games". Tumblr 2013 Year in Review. 1 December 2014.