“Have you tried turning it off and on again?” It’s hard not to think of the classic sitcom when seeing these words (a point for you if you can name it). Who knows, it may well have inspired the title of this very game. Sadly, Off And On Again doesn’t tell the story of a dysfunctional I.T. department, but rather an epic quest set in the digital realm to reset time and eradicate an insidious corruption.
Sounds exciting, right? Despite the rather epic bio on the game’s store page, you’re thrown straight into the action without any real backstory, instead you’ll just have to use your imagination I’m afraid. You assume the role of a white silhouetted hero who is referred to by several names, but most commonly “Legs”.
Off And On Again is a puzzle platformer where you manipulate the stage itself to progress. You have limited abilities at your disposal, those being jumping and wall jumping to avoid hazards. You’ll come face to face with lasers, fireballs and enemies which you have no choice but to avoid, as you aren’t able to engage in combat.
Small squares represent switches that will alter your path to the exit in most of the 64 levels on offer. Things start off very easy, but gradually get more challenging as you progress. What starts as minor alterations, such as lasers, will progress into the very blueprint of the levels themselves substantially changing. Some of the levels are quite clever, for example one is made up of four mini levels which you will need to navigate in a certain order to escape. Puzzle wise it never gets too taxing on the old grey matter however, with most levels remaining fairly linear. Keep your eyes peeled though, as some contain data fragments which, when collected, will reward you with a generous amount of Gamerscore.
You’re not alone on your quest to reboot the digital world as a mildly irritating little white pixel comes along for the ride. Despite not actually doing anything, it’s unclear whether your companion is friend or foe at first, instead just providing an unhelpful commentary on your progress. There is really no value in your partner accompanying you through the game – I would have much rather gone solo.
Despite the fairly manageable difficulty curve, you’ll die pretty regularly in Off And On Again. Why is this I hear you ask? Put simply, it’s down to the game’s controls. They are less than precise when it really matters, and this is laid bare in the latter levels which ask just that of you. “Legs” is floaty but whilst he is midair, directing him is extremely sensitive. This means that sometimes you’ll aim to land safely on the edge of a platform, but will instead slide right off and fall with the slightest movement of the thumbstick, potentially to your death. Thankfully then, you’re checkpointed in a way that often means you will never lose any substantial progress.
Something else that is made more frustrating by the controls is wall jumping. It’s hit and miss, and very annoying when you find yourself in situations one wrong move away from death. This is especially apparent in levels where you are trying to avoid huge rotating lasers, which spin pretty darn quickly.
Rather unexpectedly, there’s local multiplayer for up to four in Off And On Again. The Death Match and Elimination modes speak for themselves, whilst Invasion and Break It are heavily influenced by a couple of arcade classics (I’m sure you can figure out which). In all four you only have one shot to fire, meaning you then have to collect it before you can use it again. The multiplayer is a brief diversion from the main game, which is entertaining if only for a short time.
In terms of looks, it’s hard to describe Off And On Again. It clearly does the job of creating a digital world, but at the same time it really can’t be described as pretty (as evidenced by the screenshots). Functional is probably the best adjective, which extends to the game’s soundtrack too. They both do the job fine, despite the backdrop looking similar to my shower curtain.
On balance, Off And On Again is still an entertaining little platformer with a single player campaign that will keep you busy for a couple of hours. Despite the inclusion of local multiplayer, £9.99 is very much at the top end of what I would expect to pay.
Hopefully Off And On Again won’t have you reaching for the power button, because despite costing perhaps more than it should, there’s a decent little adventure on offer here.
Off And On Again turns on by releasing on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One