A musical miniseries with a surprising dose of heart
I wasn’t sure what to expect with We are OFK. Based on the trailer, I thought this was going to be the usual fare we get with episodic choice-based storytelling (which I love). When I started playing, I was surprised to discover that We are OFK it is less of a game and more of an animated miniseries with interactive elements, including music videos. It made a lot more sense for me to be recommended to play “whatever”. [my] the preferred setting for watching TV is.” We are OFK It’s also considered a biopic by its creators, and while I’d categorize it more like a memoir, the point is that the project is a fictionalized account of the formation of an actual virtual band, which sounds more confusing than it is.
When I sat down to write this review, I thought a lot about whether to review it as a game or more like an interactive series; it’s just some sort of indistinguishable middle ground. I love that though, because it’s not something we see often in the gaming space, and I find it refreshing. That said, I’ll be as honest as possible and criticize the few interactive elements like I would any other narrative game. I have a lot to say. Let’s go.
We are OFK (PERSONAL COMPUTER [reviewed]Nintendo Switch, PlayStation)
Developer: OFK Team
Publisher: OFK Team
Release: August 18, 2022 – Eps. 1 and 2, August 25 – Ep. 3, September 1 – Ep. 4, September 8 – Ep. 5
We are OFK follows a group of four friends in Los Angeles as they navigate work, family, relationships, and the difficult process of creating art. I love a good life story, and this series delivered on that front. The main cast includes Itsumi, a plucky concert pianist and social media manager for a large game company; Carter, an eccentric artist and workaholic who likes to keep his story somewhat mysterious; Luca, a bubbly singer-songwriter struggling with self-doubt; and Jey, a passionate music producer with a no-nonsense perspective.
It’s worth noting that the main cast is part of the LGBTQ+ community, but that never takes center stage as the defining characteristic of who they are. First, they are whole, whole people, and we see their weirdness as a true expression of them, not a preachy claim for the sake of it. Even for a story based on real people, that can be a difficult balance to strike, which is why I’m excited to see such carefully written examples from this community.
i can relate
Here’s the thing: I’m the exact demographic for this game. I live in Los Angeles, I’m a writer, I love pop music, and I’m bisexual. If anyone was going to really relate to this game, it’s me. However, I think the strength of the writing makes it so that anyone can enjoy playing/watching. We are OFK. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to work in the games or music industry, this is one of the most realistic looks at the life you’ll ever have, for better or worse.
Also, this might be a bit of a controversial version, but when it comes to narrative-focused games, I care more about good writing than mechanics. Despite my bias, even I am willing to admit that We are OFK it’s a bit shallow when it comes to its mechanics. If you’re looking for an interactive story that has incredibly calm and relaxing gameplay, like I usually do, it’s pretty much perfect on that front. At that point, it all comes down to preferences.
The first indication that We are OFK was more of a miniseries than a game was the length of the episodes included under their titles, exactly as seen on a streaming platform. I have a weird anxiety about not knowing how long a game will take me to play, so it’s actually a detail I’d love to see some more traditional games take on as well. When you pause, there’s also a progress bar that shows you exactly how much time is left in the episode – again, like any typical VOD UI.
I can’t exaggerate the writing enough
What surprised me most was the quality of the writing. First of all, I thought We are OFK It was going to be an ordinary but lovable story of a band’s rise to fame. Instead, it’s much more character-focused, which was a bold choice, but I thought it was perfect for the grounded story of interpersonal relationships that they’re trying to tell. Right away, we know who all these characters are. They have distinct personalities, flaws, believable motivations, rich relationships with each other, I could go on. This makes sense considering they were all based on real people, but I have no way of knowing how much of the story and characters were actually pulled from their real life counterparts. Either way, they’re the most realistically written characters I’ve seen in games in a long, long time.
Conversations always feel natural, as if you can feel how well these characters know each other and how comfortable they are. You constantly see the values of each member of the group clash with the others as well, perfectly emulating the real-life ebb and flow of modern relationships. They are simply doing the best they can in difficult circumstances and actively trying to be there for each other as they seek what they want in life. I walked away from the game not only rooting for these characters, but also deeply understanding what makes these people tick.
I also have to break down to give additional kudos to the writing of episode four, titled Divisions. I can’t say much, but it was one of the most delicate and complex examinations of grief, trauma, and being there for your friends that I’ve ever seen in anything… ever. Most of the rest of the episodes were on par, but there was something especially moving and beautiful about the fourth episode, and the character he focused on suddenly became my favorite.
Some of the dialogue annoyed me a bit, just because it strayed into no-one-really-talks-like-that territory, similar to the problem Life is strange Dyed. But the character arcs and structure were very strong, and it didn’t happen that often, so it wasn’t a deal breaker for me. The other criticism I have of the story is that it felt like things ended too quickly, but again, that’s a minor gripe against some of the best character-centric writing I’ve seen in years.
Let’s talk about interactivity
As I said, the interactive elements were not very frequent. The most common were the dialogue options, either through text messages or in a normal conversation. This is standard fare: if you’ve played just about any narrative adventure, you know what’s in store. Options are almost always flavor text, but I don’t really care. We are OFK it’s never presented as a game where your choices matter, or much of a game at all. I for one like flavor text, but while some people may disagree with me on that, it can still be fun to choose how your character reacts in a given situation just for the sake of it.
You can also access some text conversations in the main menu, which are fun little surprises to watch between episodes. It’s a nice touch to get a glimpse of what the characters are doing when we’re not there.
Then there are the interactive music videos. There is one per episode, usually placed to accentuate a strong narrative beat that occurred in the story. Now, I don’t know much about music, but the EP is considered indie pop. I listen to a lot of CHVRCHES, and the music in We are OFK It reminded me a bit of his early work. From what I can guess, virtual bands like Gorillaz and K/DA were a big influence. Sorry if that doesn’t help music people, it’s the best I’ve got. However, OFK does have a single that appears in the game, so you can listen to it before you play if you want.
Anyway, back to interactivity: Just like dialogue options, interactive music videos are more about style than anything else. There are no glitch states and for the most part they include clicking pretty pictures to the beat. I thought they were really fun because of how they went along with the songs and how they tied into the story at the same time.
We’re not reinventing the wheel here, but if you like small, no-stakes interactive musical vignettes that are easy on the eyes, you’ll have a good time with these. I also enjoyed every song, which was a nice surprise. I guess if you’re going to make a whole game about making an EP, it’s good that there aren’t any weak links in the track listing.
There are a couple of more stylized interactive pieces, and they were my favorite “game” moments of the whole thing. They were usually short and again completely unrelated to the development of the story, but it was fun to have a few different styles mixed in with the low-poly characters and painted backgrounds.
Criticisms and final reflections
as much as i enjoyed We are OFK, I have to reveal some problems that I encountered. Some of the bits of the music video were lacking in polish, and I would have liked to see those moments really blocked out considering they were the only parts that had more complicated mechanics. Also, while the art style is deliberately minimal, the animations can be quite stiff. You also get a lot of items by slashing through characters, which only becomes more noticeable when you don’t have much else to pay attention to than them.
I also had subtitles all the time, and I was pretty upset that they didn’t show up during the music videos, which is when I needed them the most. Interestingly, there were times in the narrative portion of the game where subs weren’t randomly appearing either.
The way interaction is incorporated reminds me of Netflix. Bandersnatch, in some way. Not because it’s similar to We are OFK no way, but it makes me think of how my friends and I spent a night sitting, watching Bandersnatch, and arguing about each other’s choices. Obviously We are OFK It has basically the opposite tone, but the idea is the same in principle. It feels like it’s cool to watch it with friends, casually pass the controller and spend a quiet night. I know if my roommate hadn’t been out of town this week, it would have been something they would have loved. sit back and watch/play with me.
We are OFK absolutely not for everyone. I feel like a lot of people are going to write it off before they even try it, which I think is a shame because as self-indulgent and downright silly as it can be at times, it’s also very compelling. , inspiring, and damn well written.
as much of We are OFKThe identity of is her style, but I must say she has the substance to back up her hyper-stylized vision. When you look at it less as a game and more as an interactive expression of the creative process behind an EP, it really is a lot of fun – you just have to be willing to find it there and look at it for what it is. instead of what you think it should be.
Do you benefit from being interactive when it comes to your storytelling? It depends on you. If you allow yourself to immerse yourself in it, using the interactive bits to express how your feel like an observer of this story, that’s when you’re going to get the most out of this experience.
It’s my job to be honest here, and the conclusion I’ve come to is that I’m very happy We are OFK exists, and I think you should absolutely play it if you’re looking for a good narrative game. It’s not a great representation of an in-depth game, but it’s just a story well told, plain and simple. I’ve heard some people say that the series looks like nothing more than an ad for the OFK EP, and if that’s the case, it’s the best ad I’ve ever seen. Even if you feel out of your comfort zone, you can say with absolute certainty that We are OFK it’s a fun time…if you lean into all that is.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]