Off Peak is a game that runs the risk of feeling spoiled by too much explanation. My first playthrough felt so special because I had very little idea what to expect. Once you’re in Off Peak, it feels like an endless exhibit of creativity, self-reflection and expression. If you like weird artsy things, “walking simulators,” or just want to a watch a businessman dance forever in an empty train station, you should take this tour through developer Cosmo D’s mind. Go play it now, be amazed, come back to digest.
The game is set at a train station filled with artists and weirdos, and you’re free to see it all at your leisure. Art is how the station defines itself, with beautiful pieces stretching as far as you can see. Once glance to the left, and you’ll see a tremendous mural of monsters painted on the wall. This mural is, of course, right next to the sad giant sitting at a piano, who is, obviously, sitting in front of the aquarium of giant fish next to the traveling pizza vendor. Off Peak sits itself nicely alongside games like Oneiric Gardens and 2:22AM, where simply seeing what the game has to show you is the reward. Sure, to reach Off Peak‘s endgame you have to track down some hidden objects, but that’s secondary to doing literally everything else the game has for you.
I keep screenshotting everything in Off Peak. Not just of the magnificent pieces of art in the game, but the game’s moody empty space as well. As I descend the stairs to a nearly empty waiting terminal, the red sky looms over me and a bright sun shines into the expanse. Off Peak is loaded with memorable moments like this, whether they be through dialogue with another character, or just with your own thoughts. Or, like I mentioned before, with the silently dancing businessman who just can’t stop himself. He’s really incredible.
Off Peak is a tough thing to describe, because most people don’t make games like this. Imagine exploring BioShock Infinite‘s fascinating world, and doing nothing but seeing what makes it tick. Imagine a dream world where you could interact with BioShock‘s Columbia without ever having to stab anyone in the throat. This world’s inhabitants have stories, as odd, otherworldly, relatable, and fragmented as they may be, and you murder approximately zero of them.
Off Peak isn’t a world without conflict, though, because that one guy was pretty pissed that I ate all his pizza. Oh yeah, you can eat basically any food you see, because of course you can.
There are impossible hallways that lead in circles, scary ladies that follow and scare you, and well, you know. Off Peak is a strange beast, and one that I’m still digesting weeks after I played it. I’m still digging the amazing soundtrack by the developer’s band, Archie Pelago, that naturally melds from one song to another as you explore the game’s many environs.
So what exactly is Off Peak? What’s the point of all this? That’s up to you.
If you’re up for a tour of the weird, wonderful, and surreal, try the game for free here.