So, let’s be real up front: I was dreading playing Tales From Off-Peak City Volume 1.. For whatever reason, my brain has barely any appetite for unlocking locked doors, solving mysteries, unravelling conspiracies or piecing together intricately implied backstories. A lot of adventure games just ain’t for me, because I’m a brute and a philistine. Added to that, I’ve got an abiding fear of being outed as intellectually inferior, and nothing makes that anxiety tingle like high-brow stories about music, a subject that makes me feel like a complete, trudging dunce.
And here was this first-person point and click game, set in an intellectually formidable surrealist landscape, about stealing a famous jazzman’s saxophone and getting sucked into a shadowy world where all was not as it seemed. Our Adam Smith described Off-Peak’s predecessor, The Norwood Suite, as being about discovering the secrets behind a hotel, but really being about “learning about music and the creative process”. I knew I was going to hate it, not because it was going to be bad, but because it was going to expose me for the idiot I was. And if you can’t already tell by how heavily I’ve set this up, I ended up loving it.