Getting the non-spoilery thoughts out of the way, the first two zones were pretty slow, most likely because it’s hard to get into the world when your only goal in mind is “purify the land.” Still, the world is bizarre and different enough that it’s not hard to find some nuggets of intrigue in it, the characters are surprisingly endearing, and the monsters are just spectacular to look at.
I’m glad I watched someone play the game as opposed to playing it myself. because some of the puzzles were teeth-gnashingly difficult to watch that I know I’d lose my patience with them easily, though your mileage may vary on that part; the challenge may be refreshing in its difficulty.
Also, when you enter the name of your character, be sure to enter your own name.
So, as I said before, the first zones are a little slow. There’s a cloud of eeriness and dread that lightly hangs over you when you see the purified zones, but not enough to really throw you off. Enter zone three, where the surrealism and morbidity is amped up like nothing else, and that cloud suddenly becomes a thunderstorm. The zone is populated by sugar addicts who will lose their sanity if they don’t consume sugar. Sugar here is made from dead bodies.
It’s twisted, and then it gets downright intense when you reach the room. By the end, you’ve learned that you’ve killed your own wife and son, all in the name of purification. We’re shown that the purification process isn’t a desirable one early on. when you visit the purified zones and see that the population is zero (save for some monsters) and all the color has been sucked out of it, but these murders confirm any uneasiness you had early on.
I’ve played a lot of games where the goal was to “purify the world,” and the plots themselves never quite set well with me. “Purity” is such a subjective concept in general, and despite all the impossible things games offer up, I’ve always had a hard time suspending my disbelief that a world can just easily be cleansed and “purified” by performing X amount of tasks. OFF kind of pinpoints why the concept never sat well with me, and it’s the sheer extremity of it, I think—that there’s only two options and only one of them is blatantly correct, yet it doesn’t feel right, like you’re eliminating something vital to the world, and it’s only “bad” on your terms. Which exactly what happens in OFF.
The batter and the judge’s endings are both haunting in different ways, though the judge’s is easily the more potent of the two. The batter’s is fairly open-and-shut, ending with him turning off the switch, followed by a black screen. The judge’s, on the other hand, shows the consequences of the “purification” of the world, wandering alone in nothingness. It really stuck with me.
But what stuck with me most was Judy Garland’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” playing at the end credits. It’s easy to stick that song in any unsettling context for the sake of eerie contrast, but here it’s absolutely appropriate. My first thought upon hearing it was that it was a reflection of your son, Hugo’s thoughts, especially when taking into account his thoughts at the beginning of each chapter (which is what led me to this conclusion). Longing for a better world, knowing there’s a better world, yet being unable to reach it, due to imprisonment and illness. It makes my heart ache just thinking about it.
This game is many things. But above all, it’s very haunting.