OFF by Mortis Ghost (2008)
RPG Maker has proven once again that when there is a will to create off-putting metaphysical worlds that express the deepest creative mind of an individual, there is certainly a way. In Mortis Ghost’s OFF, you are fill the role of controlling “The Batter” on his crusade to purify several colorful zones of the evil spirits plaguing the residents within. While this may sound like the premise of a typical ‘save the world’ adventure, there are several unique features that set this game apart from anything you’ve ever played before.
The most striking feature being the unusual characters that inhabit each zones. From the eternal fire bird who rules over zone 2 to the horde of fearful workers, every character you meet will usually have an interesting one-liner. Mortis Ghost’s hand-drawn monochrome art style imparts a unique flair that defines the very core of OFF. My favorite entity being Zachary, the omnipresent masked merchant who always greets you with a wry chuckle and his thought of the day.
To give some purpose to these strange appearances comes a story that directs the action in a linear RPG fashion. Despite calling it a story, it harbors some of the most nonsensical dialogue that continues to confound my own theories and speculations (spoilers!). Even the creator himself has admitted to leaving certain questions unanswered, letting imaginations run wild. With that being said, there does appear to be some reason to the madness, but all in all I feel that Mortis Ghost has created an incomplete world with many unfinished thoughts.
The gameplay largely involves working your way through zones riddled with spirits and puzzles. While the random encounter battle system is fairly mundane, even including an auto-play function to relieve all effort, fairly challenging puzzles set at key intervals keep things interesting. To solve these puzzles, just about every piece of information you find is a Checkov’s gun. I tried to breeze past some levels only to find that the scrap of paper I read earlier was a necessary clue to solving the secret code to access the next area. I especially enjoyed exploring through stages that contained reality-bending mechanics that lead to a very logical, but whimsical environment.
To round off this oddity of a game, the soundtrack delivers an appropriately quirky score. Ranging from the zany battle music to the dark and haunting ambient noise of the purified zones, composer Alias Conrad Coldwood’s experimental vibes fit well with the pixelated scenery it brings to life.
While I have been trying hard not mention Yume Nikki throughout this review, I must relate the similarities of what makes them both unique. Both Yume Nikki and OFF use strange, sometimes disturbing, imagery to tell a story of some kind, but is noticeably devoid of any convincing evidence towards what the truth really is. Even though OFF contains a lot of dialogue, the paragraphs of text merely serve to provide some sanity to the journey we’ve been cast upon, leaving any closure to the will of its player, who from the very beginning, is just another character.
You find download links for OFF through it’s Wikia Page in various languages including the original French version, English 2.0, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Thank you once again to the reader who recommended this to me!
A BIRD’S EYE VIEW