Off-Peak was a game I immediately wanted to leave.
Entering the train station which makes up its sole environment, you could almost feel as if the world had frozen around you, relinquishing your right to leave and forcing you to live out your days among the other citizens who all seem to be thinking the same thing: something here isn’t right.
But at the same time, the bizarre artwork and the humming music drew me in. Off-Peak is hypnotizing in its weirdness, often taking disturbing turns yet always remaining intensely intriguing. The more time I spent within the station’s walls, the more I wanted to stay and learn about it, the desire to leave lessening with each new-found corner and the oddities it contained.
Yet, the station isn’t something that allows you to stay; it’s one which demands you to. Exploring of your own volition is all fine and well, but it comes at a price, one which can be seen in the faces of all its other victims. The people of Off-Peak feel like a glimpse at the subconscious of someone who feels trapped yet content in the understandable routines they’ve been stuck in.
Everyone wants to leave, but nobody can afford a ticket. And so they set up shops and stalls and wait for the day they can afford to leave, only to watch as more people join their ranks all convinced they won’t be there forever. But if they were, that wouldn’t be so bad, would it?
In a lot of ways Off-Peak seems to draw inspiration from last year’s Jazzpunk, only far more cynical and disturbing in its madness. This isn’t satire, but a distorted snapshot existing on the fringe of society. Its exact meaning isn’t often clear, whether an analogy for the hopeless grind of the working lower class, or an experiment to test our limits when there are seemingly no consequences for our actions.
The only thing I know for sure is Off-Peak made me uneasy; like I was violating someone’s private thoughts and tampering with their inner secrets. I wanted out, but even with ticket in hand, there was never a chance I would be leaving the station.