Freeware Garden: Off-Peak

Off-Peak, the first game I know of that has been created by a cellist — Archie Pelago’s Cosmo D– is much more than an audio-visual experiment with an appropriately excellent soundtrack. It is a wonderfully odd first person adventure game taking place in a cavernous train station with the kind of geometrically wrong architecture one could only find in Kubrick’s version of The Shining.

You are stuck there searching for a ticket out of a town that could easily be a dystopian version of New York. The graffiti, imagery and skyscrapers seem to suggest so.

Thankfully someone who “believes in you” has torn up his ticket and scattered its pieces throughout the station for you to discover and reassemble into something that might earn you a seat on a train.

Hunting for the pieces of said ticket, you will get to explore and interact with a world where artists and musicians are facing an uncertain future, when their tools and instruments are highly prized. Of course, it is entirely up to the you to decide how deeply you want to look into Off-Peak’s symbolisms, themes and stories and ¬†how thoroughly you care to interact with the characters and places on offer and attempt to interpret Off-Peak’s stories, characters and themes.

Look into every nook and cranny, talk to people, search for hidden passages and explore every area you can find and you might just discover what’s going on. What the union is fighting for, why Marcus isn’t playing the piano or, even, formulate a theory on the game’s differently sized character models.

Failing that, you’ll at least experience strolling through a truly fantastical building filled with Chinese gardens, board game rooms, exotic beer stands run by musicians and whales hanging from either an intricately painted ceiling or the cosmos itself.

Alice and Pip have also been thinking about Off-Peak.


  1. Zallgrin says:

    Oh. My. God.

    This looks brilliant, now I know what I will do as a reward after I’ve written my exam!

  2. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Wait. It’s possible to find out why the giant doesn’t play? Even why there are giants at all?

    Huh. I thought I had thoroughly explored the entire building, but I haven’t even found a hint that it’s possible to discover these things. Seems like I need to go back!

    • April March says:

      That surprised me as well. Can I get a hint as to how to figure that out?

  3. caff says:

    This is well worth a playthrough if you liked “Jazzpunk” or just like crazy games/films in general.

  4. emotionengine says:

    “the first game I know of that has been created by a cellist”

    Well, I could mention Cello Fortress (link to, but maybe van Dongen’s technically more of a programmer-who-plays-cello rather than a-cellist-who-codes-kind of person… not really sure, tbh.

    Also, great stuff, that Off-Peak. Was intrigued by the screenshots in Alice and Pip’s piece and decided to give it a whirl. Thoroughly enjoyed the experience, although reading your article, as someone else mentioned above, I didn’t realise it was possible to dig that deep and uncover more of those plot points. Will have to investigate further!

    • Konstantinos Dimopoulos says:

      And I’ve forgotten the brilliant Jan Kavan creator of JULIA and other stuff I love. Shame on me. Also, thanks for pointing Cello Fortress out; I had totally forgotten it.