A Bat, A Cat, A World Of Weird: OFF
OFF could be this year's Space Funeral, except that it wasn't released this year. It's an RPGMaker 2003 game made by a group going by the name Unproductive Fun Time and everybody at all interested in the wonderfully weird world of bizarre and creepy SNES-style RPGs should have played it already. The only barrier to entry was the Frenchness of it all, which isn't a way of referring to a certain Gallic oddness, but rather the fact that it was written by French people in the French language. A heroic group have now finished their translation so it is surely time to play. Listen to the battle music below and then see if you can resist downloading.
Ragtime roustabouts in rollicking rumpus!
In OFF, you play The Batter, who appears to be a baseball player who is trying to purify a world of odd zones, some quietly nightmarish, some strangely bureaucratic and stubborn. It would be more accurate to say that you play yourself playing The Batter because you are referred to, by name, as the entity controlling the oddly compliant chap.
There are smoke mines, necessary because what would people breathe if they didn't pull smoke out of the ground, there's a feline guide who looks a little worse for wear but talks a good talk, and there's an increasing sense of skin-crawling regret. I'll be the first to admit that regret doesn't normally make my skin crawl but the flesh was definitely undulating up and down my arms when I reached the later zones, even as I frowned and doubted the purity of my purifying actions.
You can download the game here and when you've unzipped it you'll need to install all the font files that are in the base directory. You can also find the soundtrack here, although I'd recommend playing through the game first.
Thanks to the ever-lovely Terry Cavanagh for recognising the brilliance of OFF and posting about it over at the fantastic Free Indie Games.