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Yeah, I can definetly see why people love this so much.

  • Frogge
  • 08/06/2018 11:29 PM

OFF by Mortis Ghost
Length: ~4 hours

Before going into OFF, I've heard a lot about it. It's been pretty much up there as one of the most well know rpg maker games that has since inspired many games to come after it, just like Ib or Yume Nikki. But what makes OFF so good? Well, let me tell you, a LOT of things do.

OFF starts off with asking you your name. You then take control of a character called the batter, who's on a mission to purify the world. You start off in zone 0, an uninhabited area where you meet the judge, one of the game's major characters.

Straight off the bat the visual aspect of OFF is impressive as hell. The world is bright and looks blocky and cute, completely contradicting the tone of it. This works really well as it makes the world grow on you more. You see how distant its inhabitants feel in comparison to it. Unlike the tiles, the characters are all gray, making them feel like they simply don't belong there. Once again, this is handled in such a way that it feels like a good thing rather than a bad thing. That being said, the pixel art is super nice too! Not to mention the more high-res art that accompanies it, such as the battlers, is extremely well drawn as well.

There isn't a single enemy in this game that doesn't look amazing.

The mapping is great too. It's simple, but does a good job with the limited tiles it has. The game's aesthetic is even super recognizeable! Like, every time I see a game that has colored blocky areas, I immediately see someone comparing it to OFF. It's left a good impact for sure.

Oh, and the soundtrack too! People are always talking about how good the game's soundtrack is. The game even tells you that you should turn up your sound at the start because it's famous for its soundtrack, a note later added by the translators, as much as I understand. And make sure you do! While the game's soundtrack doesn't really get anywhere near as memorable as soundtracks of other games that have otherwise been praised, such as Undertale, there's still a bunch of cool tracks. The battle theme is super funky and I never got tired of hearing it the entire time. There's this super awesome song that plays in zone 2 when the city gets attacked by a bunch of spectres that was easily my favorite in the game.

The sound effects are something I can praise for sure, on the other hand. Every character has this little voice acting bits for them. It's usually some sort of weird moan or laugh or something, but it really enhances the game world.

But speaking of the battles, I guess we should take a look at the gameplay. OFF is pretty much an RPG adventure puzzle game. Most of what you will be doing is exploring the world and talking to its inhabitants, solving occasional puzzles and fighting enemies in between. It's kind of interesting how much emphasis OFF puts on puzzles for RPG a lot of the time. There's nothing too mind boggling in there, most of it is fairly simple. Though, I did look up a walkthrough for most of them for one main reason - while trying to solve puzzles, enemies can still appear. And a lot of the puzzles require you to explore and note down things you find in order to find a password or number combination or such, and with how enemies can appear while you're trying to do that and slow you down significantly, I just preferred cheating my way through instead. Just a heads up, if you don't want to look up a walkthrough like I did, make SURE you play with a notebook and pen at hand, because you'll want to note down every number you come across.

Oh, by the way, the game has random encounters and... why? Why would anybody want to put random encounters in their game? I mean, they're not too bad in OFF, they appear like every 20 steps or so, but still, an on map enemy system would have still been much more ideal. It does switch to using on map enemies a few times, I just don't see why it couldn't have done that for the entire game.

Oh yeah, also, you can only escape from the batter's actions and not from the default action menu when you first start battle (the one that says attack-flee-auto) so I pretty much didn't realize until nearly the end of zone 3 that I could escape from battles and ended up battling pretty much everything I came across. I mean, the idea is that only the batter can escape from battle and the add-ons can't, but I still would have preferred to be able to escape normally.

Cool scene and all, but that one weird dark blue bit near the bottom right is really annoying me.

Oh, the add-ons. Basically, they are your party members in this game. They're all these ring dudes who will help you out in the game. The battles themselves aren't really anything beyond your generic rpg maker battles. I managed to beat the game by just picking the attacks that did the most damage. I never used any of the status moves even once, and mostly only used items while fighting the bosses. I had a ton of each item by the time I finished the game. I had around 60 healing items that went unused (Healing items combined, I mean. There's, one that heals a tiny amount of HP and one that heals a moderate amount) I'm pretty sure. I NEVER used the Joker (revives dead party members) even once the entire time. Oh yeah, also, weirdly enough, it takes you until nearly the end of the game to finally get a party member that can deal damage to all enemies, and that's a little iffy considering it makes the earlier battles a lot more annoying. All in all, OFF is actually a very easy game, but I'm not exactly complaining. I don't mind easy games, the main problem with the battles for me was that they were very repetitive. Pretty much by the time I halved zone 1 I got tired of battling anything as it just wasted my time. Like I said, I could basically just beat every enemy by using whatever attack dealt the most damage.

There's some fun sections thrown in here and there. The puzzles that didn't require me to run around while having to deal with random encounters, I actually really enjoyed. There's one near the end that even gets meta, requiring you to look around in the game files for a puzzle solution. There's one or two really fun minigames, such as one where you jump down a chimney in zone 3 and have to avoid spectres while you fall while tryign to collect 10 add ons before you hit the ground. I really do wish the game had more moments like this, but OFF never felt particularly frustrating to play.

Oh yeah, know how I said there's a meta puzzle near the end? Well, a lot of meta things actually go down in this game. Though, unlike games like Oneshot, Doki Doki Literature Club or Undertale, it doesn't exactly mess with your computer by changing your wallpaper or moving your cursor or creating text files et cetera. It makes do with what rpg maker 2003 has, and does it well. Once you get the the final area, the room, the meta elements will start getting especially impressive.

Wait a minute, Hitler? That you?

OFF generally excels in its narrative. It's brilliantly written. There's always a sense of dread and uneasiness while you explore the world. The NPCs all feel so fragile and scared, continiously mentioning how scared they are, how much they don't want to die or how everything is going horribly. They sound so lifeless yet so loveable at the same time. The main cast too! The judge starts off as kind of a weird guy but throughout the game he begins to show a lot of emotion and character. And then there's everyone's favorite, Zachary. He's pretty much the Sans of this game. Everybody draws fan art of him. He's the most humourous character and yet he's also the one that breaks the fourth wall the most. That being said I did like him a lot! Especially in zone 3. By that point, he starts wearing a mask that looks like the judge and starts taking his role because he is away, but then he switches to his old mask every once in a while to sell you stuff. This was super cool and also pretty silly, watching him switch between the two masks every time he was going to either sell you something or give you guidance.

The game has a lot of foreshadowing thrown in there too. For example, the queen's name is mentioned a lot of times, creating ambition and excitement to find out who she is, what she looks like or why her name is brought up so much. And answers become clear as you progress through the game. And let me tell you, the final chapter hit me hard.

You end up murdering an innocent woman and child, while also learning through notes about all sorts of terrible things you have done to said child. The batter is revealed to the child's father, or at least some sort of fantasy recreation of him.

And the ending does not hold back either. It's a perfect conclusion. It's dark, grim. It's thought provoking. Not to mention, they finally reveal what the game's title really comes from, and also give you something extremely quotable, such as Sans' ''you're gonna have a bad time''. Yeah, I know, I'm comparing this game to Undertale a lot.

The dialogue is weird, but in a cool way. You'll find yourself in a lot of interesting scenerios, such as in zone 1 where they exract metals from cows or in zone 3 where everyone is addicted to sugar. A lot of people call this game surreal and I really wouldn't go that far. It's weird, but it's nothing too weird, if that makes sense. The final chapter does get somewhat surreal, but otherwise the only really surreal thing in the rest of the game would be the battlers.

Oh and the game decides to suddenly turn into Yume Nikki in this one bit for some reason.

My only other minor complaint about OFF would be that it feels a tiny bit unpolished at times. There are a lot of times you character will become invisible for a few frames before one of those lore exposition scenes play out. Some of the visuals do clash here and there. Oh, and also, the menus. The ''dark'' color of the font is the same as the windowskin, so items tend to become invisble in the menu unless you hover over them or you can't see how much your stats will drop when you unequip something and stuff like that. It's nothing too jarring and doesn't hinder much from the experience. I only came across one minor bug near the end. Oh, actually, there was also a door in zone 3 that freezed and crashed my game twice? I think that might have been rpg maker's fault, though, because doing the same thing later on didn't result in anything, and it wasn't an error message sort of crash, the game just straight up stopped responding.

All in all, do I recommend OFF? Hell yeah. While I do not personally think it's the best game I've played or anything, I still found a lot here to enjoy. It can be funny or emotional, uncanny or bright and friendly. It's a very memorable experience that gets held back by a few flaws, but otherwise, I give the game four add-on rings out of five.