OFF is a bizarre surrealist game by Mortis Ghost featuring a strange world of spectres, phantoms, and overworked office drones. The second main area of the game works to expand on this strange world, introducing players to the strange smoke mines, meat fountains, and nature of the elements in the land, each of which is ‘the most important.’ But what are these elements, and how does this weird, weird, world work?
The first element introduced to us is Smoke when the Player discovers the Smoke Mines of Damien. While trying to gain access to the mines, a miner explains this:
“Here, we send workers into deep tunnels to unearth metal from the ground, freeing embedded smoke that was trapped in the depths. […] We are able to put some of it into bottles, which the Queen sends to the other zones. The rest of it flows free, forming the air that our lungs inhale and exhale… Uh… So we can live. As the first of four elements… It’s an important element. Because without smoke, people would have nothing to breath.”
So… smoke is air? A little odd that you mine it out of the ground like natural gas, but overall understandable. The next element is found and explained at the (checks notes) metal farmsteads of Pentel. Metal… farmsteads? A worker explains:
“Our work consists of cutting livestock in two and extracting the metallic boulders that were contained in the cadavers. All the poor quality metal is discarded, forming the ground we walk on. […] Some of it is also put into crates and sent to the other zones, so they have tools and soil as well, I suppose… As the first of four elements… It’s an important element. Because without metal, people would have nothing to walk on. They would sink and drown.”
So… metal grows in cows and other livestock, which you then… bifurcate… and pull the metal out of. To make the ground. Sure. Smoke is air, metal is earth. Next, we can head to the Plastic Administrations of Shachihata. Upon first entering, an Elsen polity explains the nature of plastic:
“[…] we receive parcels full of plastic. There is a lot of liquid plastic that forms lakes and oceans. There is also solid plastic, used to make various objects. As the first of four elements… It’s an important element. Because without plastic, the world would have no boundaries. People would walk and walk without ever stopping.”
Plastic is water? Sometimes solid, sometimes liquid. Although there’s no mention of them drinking plastic, so maybe there is also water for people to drink. What do they eat, anyway, since cattle are grown for metal? Oh wait, there are the meat fountains of Alma, where we are once again forcibly introduced to a bizarre element of the world: meat.
“Here, meat flows freely, continually filling these immense metal pools you see before you. Our work consists of pouring this meat into bottles before the fountains overflow. The meat is then immediately delivered to all the other zones, from zone 1 on. As the first of four elements… It’s an important element. Because without meat, people would have nothing to eat. They would die of starvation, one after another.”
Meat. Well, I guess that answers the question of what they eat. Or drink, considering it’s a fountain. Following the analogy from before, meat would have to be fire, which… if you broaden your definition of ‘fire’ to ‘life’ or ‘energy,’ works? If you squint? Smoke, metal, plastic, and meat. The four elements of OFF.
“But wait! There’s more!”
Zone 3 is the home of the fifth element, the secret element. The man made element. Here’s what we learn at the Sugar Ovens of Vesper.
“Here, we burn the corpses of people who have died, and, […] transform the vapour into sugar. The tubes which traverse the factory walls direct it to […] where it is washed and purified from the remaining ashes. Then the sugar is distributed to all employees as a reward for the work they do every day. It’s a secret element… The fifth element… The most important element… Because without sugar, people could no longer bear reality, and they would go mad.”
Sugar is drugs. Sugar is made of people. A horrible, horrible substance that all the Elsen of Zone 3 are addicted to, resorting to violence if their sugar supply is threatened. They transform into terrifying beasts when angered, for the Batter to mow down alongside the rest of the spectors he purifies. Luckily, that’s the actual last element in this surrealist monstrosity, so with that, we can leave the Batter to his mission.