What defines the self? A name? A role? The tasks we are set to? What others perceive us to be? What we perceive ourselves to be? Or perhaps something more? This question has possibly plagued mankind more throughout the ages than any other, but it defines a key conflict in the world of OFF in which we emerge fully-formed, and find our existence immediately questioned. As we begin we find ourselves perceived as little more than a figment of the imagination of a humble cat.
However, this is not to be our role.
Nor is this our role. We are a puppeteer, steering the Batter through the world in his sacred mission. Purification. This much the world makes explicitly clear to us. What, then, is the Batter? Just a puppet? We control his actions, but his story controls the direction of those actions. The Batter is at once the puppet and the puppeteer, and we find ourselves guided as much by his mission as we guide his actions.
OFF presents its core dilemma to us upfront. This is a world of muddied definitions, confusion, and misperceptions centering this conflict extensively throughout our journey. And our duty is to assist the Batter in purifying these confusions with divine efficiency.
We have our role, but what of the world we are to purify? We find it inhabited by an enigmatic lot known as Elsen punctuated by a sigh, the Zone Guardians: a set of powerful beings given the task of creating the world and acting at once as protectors and anchors for the reality of their respective Zones, some Cats, a Merchant, a Child, and a Queen.
This world however, is haunted. Not by spectres, although there are plenty of those, but by memory. The Elsen have their roles, mining and manufacturing the respective elements of their Zones, but have long-since forgotten their context, perceived only as things to be utilized in the continuation of the world as it is.
Some Elsen have become so muddled as to even forget their origins, frustrating their Guardian at every turn. This is the core conflict of Zone 2 where we find Japhet trapped inside Valerie the cat. He presents himself to his subjects with all of the requisite pomp and circumstance, which is immediately stymied by the Elsen’s perception of him, reducing him to the role of a cat so thoroughly as to make his speech unintelligible to them.
Japhet sets to eradicating his own people with his spectres, not a task of purification but one of revenge for this insult and the ingratitude of his subjects for his role in the creation of a world of eminent safety from all harm, except that of fear and apprehension. The Elsen simply seek a life safe from danger to the point where they have been rendered inert and terrified at the prospect of the most minor of injury, shrinking even from Japhet as his sharp kitty claws may wreak unforetold havoc upon their soft supple skin.
The world drips with muddled meanings and definitions, unclear roles, things misremembered, purposes forgotten, the self replaced with the faulty perceptions of others, and elements derived from sources entirely unrelated to them and used for purposes they are eminently unfit for. These are less redefinitions than misdefinitions. But an errant memory is a memory none-the-less, and is the destruction of such a memory truly the correct choice?
There is, of course, far more to the game than this, and far more meaning contained within than one could hope to cover in a slew of articles, let-alone one. So, take a trip down bad memory lane, and enjoy the world’s Final Inning.
Mx. Medea is a writer, artist, and editor who spends most of their time drawing things with squares and buried under a small pile of endless paper copy. When not working they can be found playing everything from interesting indie fare to oldschool games. You can find them, their art, and their opinions @Mx_Medea on Twitter.