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This page includes some jargon that hasn't been added to the site's glossary yet. I'll be around to fix this later, but sorry for the inconvenience in the meantime.

Review: OFF

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: NR - Not Rated
My Rating: Ages 13 and up
Genre: JRPG / Horror
License: Freeware
Release Year: 2008
Review Published On: April 23rd, 2016
Played on: Martha

Available from:

OFF Wiki

Save System:

Like older RPG games, there is no autosave feature. Instead, you must seek out and interact with mysterious Red Boxes found throughout the game's Zones in order to manually save your game.

Summary of
Major Issues:

Despite the simple graphics, this is a psychological horror game. There is no attempt to hide this from the player, as the monsters are often hideously deformed, and many of the things that happen come off as wrong in some way.

Screenshots

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The Judge, being cryptic as ever

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Fighting evil Spectres

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Sometimes things are just weird



Game Overview

OFF is a French Indie game that has gained a sizable fan following online, and for good reason. There's a lot of stuff going on in this game, making it something of an interactive piece of art. However, I'd advise new players to avoid reading up on the game, as the ending is a lot more powerful when you don't see it coming. I'm going to make an effort to not spoil things in this review, so any major spoilers are marked as such.

One of the first things you should know about OFF is that this is a horror game, and it makes no attempt to hide this from the player. The monsters you'll fight are all twisted and deformed, and the story itself is intended to make you increasingly uncomfortable. If you like creepypastas or scary games in general, you're going to enjoy this game.

Gameplay wise, OFF is a fairly standard turn based RPG (comparable to most old school JRPGs). You need to deal with random encounters, search around for better items and equipment, grind to level up your characters, and occasionally solve a puzzle or two. Battles aren't really the focus of the game though, so there's an option to have the game control both sides of the fight while you just sit back and watch.

On a side note, I've seen a number of people compare OFF to Undertale, sometimes even saying that one is a spiritual successor to the other. After playing them both, I don't really agree; the main thing they have in common is their limited color palette. You could make an argument that their gameplay is similar, but that's mainly because they are both tile-based RPGs. Using that criteria, any tile-based RPG is "like Undertale" or "like OFF", so the distinction is meaningless.

All in all, if you like spooky stuff or turn based RPGs, this is a game worth trying out -- especially if you're playing blind.

Points of Interest

Classic turn based RPG gameplay
Turn based RPGs are pretty much a dime a dozen. They were some of the first RPGs, and in recent years they've been waning in popularity in favor of real time RPGs. The return to classic form is a bit of nostalgia for fans of the older genre, and new players may find a new type of game to enjoy.
Strange, surreal world
OFF takes place in a world that can only be described as bizarre. Very little of what goes on makes logical sense. Rivers of meat, mining smoke, and riding around on ducks are only part of the strangeness. Of course, it doesn't help that the characters in OFF are as eccentric as their world.
The player is a part of the game
Several recurring characters are aware that this is a video game, and that you, the player, are guiding the Batter's actions in their world. In some cases people in the game address you, the puppetmaster, instead of your puppet. This method of breaking the fourth wall is a little unsettling, though it does pay off later on.
Three possible endings
Since the player is considered a character in the game, you will have the ability to determine the final choice that concludes the story. There is no wrong choice here, and you can freely reload from the last save and choose the other option. There is also a secret ending, which is only available if you manage to seek out a specific hidden item. I'd suggest going for this on your second attempt, as you're probably going to need a guide or walkthrough to find everything needed to acquire it. In particular, you'll need to defeat a powerful secret boss.
You sometimes need to grind
RPGs are known for having the player grind through random encounters. It's basically something to expect. Fortunately, you probably won't need to grind very much when playing OFF, but if you do, the Auto battle mode can save you a lot of trouble with the local enemies and there are floating boxes scattered around that you can freely use to completely heal your party between battles.
Some puzzles can be hard to figure out
Nearly every puzzle has a clue hidden somewhere nearby. Most of them resemble dialing a phone number; only instead of pressing keys, you touch floating blocks in a specific order. One of the puzzles has their answer hidden somewhere players can freely access, but would never think to look. Of course, since most of the puzzles involve touching boxes in a certain order, you can brute force them easily enough if you're having trouble understanding the hints.
Translation issue
Apparently there's a line of dialogue near the end of the game that isn't quite translated correctly. This creates an even bigger mindscrew than the game's designer intended. After you beat the game but before you start trading theories with other fans, check the game's wiki entry for the Queen and the Batter. Otherwise you might put your foot in your mouth by accident.

Concerns and Issues

Ghosts and monstrous characters
The Batter's primary mission is to purify the world, and this means that he fights the evil spectres wherever he finds them. These spectres are often depicted as simple ghosts, but they can take a large number of distorted and twisted shapes. Most of the obvious horror elements in this game come from the creepy and frightening designs of its monsters.
References to demons
There are several types of items in OFF, most of which relate to baseball in some way. The exceptions are various types of meat, which cure debuffs or heal the player's team. Items that heal you like this are typical for any RPG, but the names of three variants are worth mentioning. These are Moloch's meat, Belial's meat, and Abaddon's meat. All three of these are named after Biblical demons or devils.
Blood
While most of the game is limited to a three color palette, blood is always scarlet red. You'll mostly see it during the battle scenes, where it appears as a quick splat whenever someone takes damage. Later on, you'll come across a few bloodied bodies.
Swearing
One member of the cast has a mouth that would make a sailor blush with shame, and there is no way to censor anything he says.
Mild nudity
Two of the bosses show more skin than you'd really want to see. Seriously, nobody wants to see an emaciated man's nipples, but there you go. The secret boss' coat is also wide open, though in her case, everything is covered.
Infanticide
When you defeat certain bosses, the game will cut to a scene where a very young, very sick little boy is sitting alone in his room. Once he's made a comment on what's happening in the story, the game will proceed as normal. This child plays a key role in the storyline, and at the end of the game, the player is forced to "purify" the child like they've done to so many ghosts. In other words, the Batter is going to kill the boy, and there's nothing you can do to prevent it other than quit the game before this portion of the story takes place.
You are the villain
The above paragraph probably spoiled this fact already, but the Batter is no hero. You were told that he seeks to "purify" the world, but the only character who tells you that is the Batter himself. Thus, you've been blindly guiding the destruction of the game's world from the beginning, as you control the actions of the game's primary villain. Towards the end of the game, one of the characters attempts to alert you to this treachery, but by then you're in pretty deep and unlikely to realize exactly what they mean before it's too late.