Read my Review Here: OFF – Somewhere, Over the Smokestacks
My current theory stands as this:
Hugo is a child that has created this world, with his own childish drawings, conjuring up each of the zones including the mother and the batter (both are in-human according to Mr. Ghost himself). He does this as a means of escapism due to being terribly sick and having to stay inside all day (evidence being the coughing, taking pills, and being adverse to going outside). His noble batter was sent on a mission to purify the world, the sickness within his body. It turns out that this noble batter is in reality, a terrible cancer that is destroying his body. The guardians are Hugo’s bodily systems while the Elsen are mindless cells, slowly corrupted into the Burnt by the cancerous spread. How has he become so sick? Well let’s look at the elements that are so dear to the inhabitants of this world.
1) Smoke – Without smoke, people would have nothing to breath…
This may be the primary evidence that Hugo is a victim of second hand smoke and is ill due to this. He doesn’t understand that it’s harmful though and just assumes that breathing it is just as normal as breathing air. The cancer is created due to all of this smoke, which may affect his lungs as well as his mind.
2) Metal – Without metal, people would have nothing to walk on. They would sink and drown…
What’s hard like metal and cold to walk on? Hospital floors that’s what. This may be a bit of a stretch, but if Hugo has lived a long time in the hospital he may not know of true earth to stand on.
3) Plastic – Without plastic, the world would have no boundaries. People would walk and walk without ever stopping…
The game describes plastic being delivered in parcels which in turn are used to make objects. These may refer to plastic toys Hugo plays with and the sea of plastic may represent an entire world of fun outside. Yeah I know, that one’s a bit of a stretch.
4) Meat – Without meat, people would have nothing to eat. They would die of starvation one after another…
Well, Hugo is seen holding a hock of ham showing his love for meat. In Dedans world, meat flows as easily as water which may signify that Hugo values meat to be just as precious.
Secret 5th Element) Sugar – Because without sugar, people could no longer bear reality and would go mad…
This element may have a double meaning. It could simply be that Hugo likes sugary treats brought by Enoch in the hospital.
It could also be a metaphor for some sort of painkiller that keeps people content. The fact that sugar is made from the burning of corpses may indicate that death is a necessity for sugar to be made. My thoughts are that people take sugar, hospital patients take painkillers, to dull the effect of seeing so many people die around them. This also means that Hugo could be near terminally ill people, as well as one himself.
Now that we have a theoretical premise set-up, let’s take a look at the characters in Hugo’s world. Each “zone” has a guardian, which I believe signifies certain stages in Hugo’s life leading up to his final moments…
The batter starts off here on his crusade to purify the world of evil spirits with the first person he meets is the Judge, the cat what accompanies him until zone 2. Evidence shows that the batter may be based off the villain in the comic book series that Hugo was given. The Judge decides to aid the batter, oblivious to the seed of darkness within him.
As you pass through the zones, Hugo is reliving his past. Exposed to the smoke and other elements, everything leads up to The Room where he lives his final moments. The Guardians of each zone are actually fellow patients of his that one-by-one, succumb to their illnesses. The characters even say that when the mother comes, she will makes things all better. But in the end, they are all purified by the batters strength.
Zone 0 is the introduction of the batter/cancer
Zone 1 describes the major elements in Hugo’s life
Zone 2 shows a safe world where fear eventually overcomes good intentions
Zone 3 describes the hospital where sugar is made to keep reality at bay
The Room is the final moments
The only characters who supposedly survive the final purification are Zacharie and the Judge, shown to be wandering the empty world after the Judge ending (though with the true ending, they technically disappear as well since Hugo’s perception of them is destroyed). Zacharie, wearing a surgical mask all the time, may represent the doctor trying to help him with medicine (the items he sells) and even breaks the fourth wall as a sign that he plays along with Hugo’s fantasies of a batter defeating the sickness.
Even sugar, a girl close to Zacaharie in some way succumbs to the batter, cancer, to which Zacharie ultimately says it may have been for the better (to put her out of her pain).
The batter passes through each stage believing himself to be doing good, picking up the Father, son, and holy ghost along the way signifying that Hugo has adopted religion is some form and imagines it to be aiding in the fight to purify his body. Each guardian however, tries to stop the cancer, with Enoch even pleading with it that everything will disappear if the batter purifies it.
Towards the end though, Hugo realizes that the batter isn’t purifying his body, but merely destroying it. The zones have become whitewashed wastelands inhabited by, showing what the cancer is doing to his being.
THE ROOM (FINAL DAYS)
The room is a countdown to Hugo’s last moments. He “had three friends”, the guardians/fellow patients who died before him, and “saw the world through a window” that was his hospital room. Japhet, the bird probably didn’t die of cancer, but may have died when a cat ate him. When the batter finally confronts the queen, his memory of his mother, she is the last defense against the cancer who is still insistent on purifying the world. After the queen is defeated, the cancer finally makes his way to a defenseless Hugo..ultimately killing him.
How the Judge manages to find his way to the end may be a representation of Hugo’s life flashing before his eyes as a last ditch effort to stop the batter/cancer. Despite which ending you choose, the body still dies. If you choose to side with the judge however, you at least give Hugo the satisfaction of overcoming his fear of the cancer, now shown in its true terrifying form.
Either way though, The Batter, Hugo, and all of the other characters were destined to be purified. The entire game is Hugo’s fantasies before inevitably being turned…OFF.
I do understand that there are a lot of holes in my theory, the largest one being what kind of role the player has in this situation to the point where characters even speak to us. Other unexplained oddities include the relationship between the batter and the mother in their dialogue, what the secretaries are doing in the purified zones, and even the biblical references.
It is obvious that Mortis Ghost has taken inspiration from religious texts and figures from the names Japhet, Dedan, Enoch, etc. But I find it hard to believe that Hugo as a child understands the dense religious texts they come from.
Or of course, it could just be about a guy wanting to play baseball on a ghost infected field
Or the batter is just annoyed that everyone else plays soccer: PURIFIED! DIOS MIO!
In the end, just cut Zachary some Slackerie…