We had the opportunity this weekend to try Chris James and Stratus Games’ next game, Off Your Rocker, which is currently on Kickstarter. I’m always a tad skeptical about party games, but even with games prejudices are bad, and so we went ahead and tried.
Off your Rocker basic mechanic is very similar to many other party games: all but one player see a card, the remaining player then has to tickle out of them what the card says. But there is one key difference to other games of this style: in Off Your Rocker, the one player is the psychiatrist and the others are his patients, afflicted by more or less severe quirks. We’re not talking about severe disorders here, the quirks in Off Your Rocker really are just that: quirky. A quirk card might, for example, say “Players think they are in the Wild West”, “Players are obsessed with the colour purple” or “Players believe they are werewolves” – that last one actually is a real psychological disorder, but somehow I don’t think that any real patient would use a number of bad 80’s horror movie quotes that is anywhere close to ours.
Some of these quirks are, naturally, more funny than others. Being afraid of the colour yellow can be entertaining, depending on the players, but it doesn’t measure up to thinking that your eyes are on your feet. Of course, it also doesn’t give you leg cramps, but such are the side effects of therapy sessions. In the same way, some quirks are much easier for the psychiatrist to figure out than others. Someone clapping and yelling “Good Answer!” every time a patient answers a question is not hard to figure out. All patients thinking they are from the future is still not tough, but less obvious. But being only able to give answers starting with an R is pretty hard to see through. And for all quirks, the patients are sniggering about the clever answers of their co-sufferers. If they give clever answers, that is. Like every party game, maybe even more so, having fun with Off Your Rocker depends on the players – you want quick-witted people with a good sense of humor or the game will just drag. But if you have the right people – as I’d like to believe we did – then the game is quite hilarious.
There are some more rules to keep in mind, but nothing challenging: after one initial question to every patient, the psychiatrist has a time limit of three minutes to figure out what’s wrong with people. If he manages, he receives a point. All the patients then get to vote which patient – except themselves, for obvious reasons – delivered the most entertaining performance and each player with one or more votes receives one point as well. Only one, though, no matter how many votes he received. The only way to get two points at once is to play the advanced version of the game: the psychiatrist may opt for the patients to depict both quirks on the card, at the same time. However, this is an all-or-nothing deal: once the doctor picked this option, he can only gain points for guessing both quirks, just one gives him nothing. Who’s the insane one now, Doctor?
Off Your Rocker was a great deal of fun for us, with the aforementioned warning of needing the right people. The other worry I would have at this point is the number of quirks in the game as frequent repetitions of quirks would be very, very boring. But the promised number of 800 quirks should last for a good while before you see one of them again. If you got interested in Off Your Rocker now, there is a giveaway going on (see below) that might just get you one for free. Good Luck!
And also, good night. We have friends coming over as dinner, and I still have to get the Chianti from the fridge.