(I actually wrote a whole article
to answer this, anon! It nearly reached six pages on Word, but I had to cut it
down. And I think I took advantage of this Ask to make an analysis. Do forgive
me. I love this game so much.)
Let’s establish, OFF takes place
in a world that is very unnatural and dystopia-like, specters plague the land,
occupants breathe smoke, water is made out of liquid plastic and solid plastic
makes out other objects, and meat is the
only thing edible. Nameless inhabitants with the same dress code live their
life in fear of the ghosts, and under the tyranny of the Zones’ ruthless and corrupted
Guardians, withstanding a never-ending life of work.
You, the Player, control the
Batter, an emotionless holy man who seeks to purify the world.
In general: OFF is about a father
ridding all hopes, dreams and affection for his terminally ill son. We play as
his persona, but we are in the view of his child.
It protects the books, but it can’t read them. Maybe we’re all protecting something, but we just don’t know what… or maybe we’re ruining it. - Elsen, Zone 2
Hugo is sick. It is hinted in the
events of the Room when he mentions being told by his papa, and his sound clip
being a cough. He had to take pills, and he wasn’t allowed to go outside. He looks
like a baby, but he probably didn’t grow up well, he also has no trace of hair
on his head or eyebrow.
Each time you enter the Room, the
surroundings change. First, a smiley face made out of chairs is present; next a
frown with tears, a bunch of computers with floors that hurts, people going to
and fro, but you can’t touch them. And then the room itself turned into a
prison cell. This is a manifestation of Hugo’s feelings towards his dwelling
place, dark, isolated, frightening, and lonely.
Sundays were probably special to
him in a way, considering most of the calendars noted “Sunday” and the Batter
keeps some Days with himself too as well.
There are six personalities
This game delves into psychology and
many symbolisms, which involves the characters themselves. If you would notice,
most characters in the game are male except the Queen and Sucre. This supports
the idea that all the male characters are manifestations of the father’s
different personalities.(I’m referencing the inspirations of this game being, Silent
Hill 2, where every character faces manifestations of their fears, an ill Mary;
Brazil, with Jill and Sam; The Wizard of Oz; Killer7 etc.)
The Batter is dressed in a
baseball uniform, manifesting how Hugo viewed his father as an enemy like the antagonist,
Ballman, in his comic book. He is a Puppet, representing the Decision, being
stripped off of all emotions and empathy so that he can fulfill his goal to
purify. What does purifying mean? To hide. And what are the specters? The truth.
The truth that Hugo is dying. This is to achieve peace. Most parents wish to
help their child continue living life as comfortable as possible despite their incurable
illness. Talking to a kid about death is the most difficult thing to do.
Valerie and the Judge are the father’s subconscious mind, the Judge being the
wise conscience, and Valerie being judgment.
However, the father realized that
the truth was undeniable. The specters were too many and the only way for them
to come to an end was to finally turn the switch off, which belongs to the life
support of his vegetable/comatose son.
Dedan is a tall, foul mouthed, and
ill-tempered man. He is the guardian of Zone 1 which supports all the other
Zones with its production of the elements that is vital for their world to
continue living. He works endlessly to supply the needs and is loyal to the
Queen. Dedan represents the father as the provider, who works hard to support his
family, and protect them. He has regards for time as hinted in the Room:
Chapter 4 and his competencies. Overworking probably took the best of him. And
thus the Batter finishes him.
Japhet is a firebird that
manifests the father’s other role who gives the pleasures and a future to his family.
At some point, Hugo and his mother became engrossed with all the troubles that
they forgot about what the father gave them, ‘peace’, ‘security’,
'entertainment’, that being the abandoned Mall, Library, and Amusement Park. In
the Room: Chapter 4, he was a small humble bird, but then grew into one of
those god-looking mythological creatures full of pride. His taking over Valerie
is a symbol of being held by back his judgment, only to tear it to shreds and to
allow his arrogance to get the best of him, lashing out at his people to hurt
them. He knew of what he became and is guilty of it. Thus following after
But that was me! It was I who made it all like that for you! Are you all so blinded by your pathetic fear of living? - Japhet
Enoch represents the father’s
hard attempts to feed his family sugar-coated lies, telling them that
everything will be okay, denying the truth of Hugo’s illness, even to the point
of chasing the Batter down and breaking through pipes just to stop him from
telling the truth.
Zacharie manifests the father’s
passive attitude. Careless, and being preoccupied with messing you around, he’s
a deceiver. A man who wears a mask and has a heart stuck to his shirt. Sugar is
another representation of Hugo’s mother. And she’s nothing but boss hidden deep
in Zone 0, obsessing over the lies. The two are manifestations of the father
and mother’s relationship. Despite having killed Sugar, Zacharie just simply
remarks, “It’s better that way.”
The Queen represents the mother. Beautiful,
loving, powerful, and the light of Hugo’s world. She’s the Batter’s parallel,
having add-ons of her own, and being much grander as compared to his simple
design. The battle against her is an important one, as we get hints on what
happened. If you would notice, it seemed similar to a couple fighting, referenced
by their dialogue, and the soundtracks played during the chapter, “Woman of
your Dreams” and “The Meaning of His Tears”. Each word she said hurt him. Not
only was she berating him, she was also fighting to keep the lies but lost.
The Batter’s confrontation with Hugo
Each blow of his bat symbolized
the father finally telling Hugo of his situation, however, still giving him the
assurance that “There will be no more darkness”.
Unfortunately, all these events
have already happened, and Hugo was just having flashbacks of his life. And we,
the Player, spectated. We were only allowed to actually intervene when we were
given a choice, to side with the Batter, or the Judge.
The final clash with the Judge represents the
father and his conscience. This very moment was beyond Hugo’s reach, and is no
longer a memory, but was actually taking place in the present. The father had
to make a final decision, and you were in his shoes. Pull the switch and the
father ends Hugo’s life, as well as his. Choose either way and it’s nothing but
regrets, and a life of loneliness.
OFF did a good job in using
symbolism in its narrative. It actually nearly covered most topics. Examples are
bureaucracy, environmental problems, sickness, family, and imagination but
still not resulting in clichés. It’s bizarre, comedic, yet dark. Simple but
still complex. This game never ceases to fascinate me, truly the best horror
But remember, it’s just a theory!
Nothing is right or wrong, it’s all up to you. Thanks for reading.
I noticed this
was pointed out already in @krazehcakes’ post, but I thought the exact same way
before even reading theories online. Screenshots are property of Panzer’s text
Hello again, my dear readers! Here I am again with a new chapter for “Price of Freedom”!
Once again, I cannot express how grateful I am to you guys for reading it and supporting this fanfic! Thank you so much! ^^
And here we go…
“Can you check again please?”
Specter asked for the fiftieth time through the phone. “It’s Carnation. C-A-R—”
“I’m sorry sir,” the receptionist
at the other end of the line spoke, “but there is no Cagney Carnation working
in this department. You should call somewhere else.”
Specter sighed. “OK…thanks
He hung up the phone and sighed.
Once again another call resulted in nothing. He glanced through the glass
window of the phone booth towards the public clock.
Noon already? Where had the last
four hours had gone?
The ghost pushed aside the phone
booth doors and drifted out, feeling extremely discouraged. He had arrived back
at the city really late last night and had to check in at the Iwerks Hotel to
get some rest. Early that morning he had woken up to find more information
about Cagney but so far nobody was able to tell him what happened to Cagney
when the flower first arrived in the city. With each dead end Specter was
feeling more and more discouraged.