We are OFK Part interactive music video, but full of intensity, is a coming-of-age story about queer friends struggling to break into LA’s brutal music scene. Announced as an Extended Play (EP) album launch featuring some synths, this narrative adventure grabbed my heart with its heartbreaking themes about the creative process and its striking pastel visuals. Honestly, you We are OFK left me in tears after the first two episodes – and there are three more weekly releases, with the third releasing on August 25th. It’s an emotional and heavy ride, so I suggest you keep those tissues nearby.
The game follows four “super gay” homies – Carter Flores (she/she), Itsumi Saito (she/she), Jey Zhang (she/she) and Luca Le Fae (he/him) – who all have a love for music, but are too scared to devote themselves to the craft. Instead, they lounge around Los Angeles, falling in and out of love, jumping between jobs, texting, drinking instead of exercising. The usual disaffected teenage shit when honestly maybe you’re just afraid of failing. Eventually, some raw and compelling events blast everyone’s lives and get them in the studio to work on the EP they avoided. When Luca, an aspiring singer-songwriter who used to work in games and write character stories, texted aspiring studio producer Jey that he avoided her because he feared he wasn’t good enough and people wouldn’t understand the look on his face , I felt this in my bones. i have the same fear
One of the reasons the story, and this exchange between Jey and Luca in particular, was so touching was because We are OFK has a choice-based dialogue system. You’ll bounce between characters quite often throughout the game, choosing things for Carter to talk about one moment and choosing texts for Itsumi to send the next. While each character that eventually makes up the cover volume OFK has their own personality, you can infuse those people with a little bit of yourself. This is also a slippery slope because sometimes, as was the case with We are OFK To me, the game can reflect something you might not have wanted to hear or thought you buried deep inside you a long time ago. So there were many instances where when I thought I was being faithful to the character, I actually revealed layers of myself. I was lured into introspection of my own impostor syndrome by the gameplay.
There are a few places, such as the interactive music videos that wrap up each episode, where you control one of the characters, walking around and doing random tasks like rescuing cats and popping balls. The restrained gameplay works exceptionally well here, allowing room for the characters and storytelling to fully inhabit the world you interact with. By only asking you to engage in meaningful interactions rather than giving you the fantasy of constant control, you can enjoy both the captivating graphics and the infectious songs.
Thematically based on the previous episode, the music here is just as lush as the visuals. They don’t just make up the game’s soundtrack; They also stage the themes of love and loneliness, failure and friendship. It’s expansive and transporting, a driving force that underscores the story. You will sometimes even hear song lyrics in the dialogue between characters. Really everything in it We are OFK is a sensual pleasure that captivates at first sight and keeps you hooked throughout its duration.
From the summery hues to the soft backgrounds, every panel and screenshot of this game is a feast for the eyes. Sure, the character models are mostly low-poly, which doesn’t give them the full ability to evoke emotion with their face. But this lack of facial expression is made up for in body language and tone of voice. These characters act and feel like real people you might meet in LA or real friends you might actually have in your circle. They’re believable, flawed individuals who send fragmented sentences as text and are obsessed with a crush’s shiny hair, all a testament to the game’s open-ended writing.
Each character has something – mostly self-inflicted – that prevents them from pursuing music as their main career. On the one hand, it is the part-time job that always stands in the way. On the other hand, there is a lack of motivation to finish what you have started. In all cases, however, the refusal to pursue their dreams stems from the crushing fear of failure, the thought that whatever you do will come to naught and there will be no success on your chosen path. It’s a debilitating sentiment explored with aplomb here. I mean, the band’s struggles, both creatively and personally, reflect each artist’s struggles.
After all, creating is hard. Completing this creation and sharing it with the world is even more difficult, and We are OFK gets this. The game guides you in the process of assembling not just music, but art in general. It illustrates the difficulty of putting your whole self into something for all to judge. By showing what it takes to create, the game pierced my heart and pulled out my own fears about my choice of creative expression – writing – for me to examine closely. And much like the characters in the game’s final installment, I realized that what I need – what creative people need – more than just confidence is a support system that reinforces positive self-beliefs. The creative process can be very isolating, however We are OFK shows that we don’t have to be able to create with those who accept us for who we are and trust that we’ll be fine in the end.
Because that’s the real message at the end of the game. Life explodes sometimes, especially when you’re trying to make a living as a creative. Art is extremely volatile in capitalism. But through support systems that uplift us, whether that pushes us to do better or join our indie pop band, we find out we’re o-fucking-kay.
https://kotaku.com/we-are-ofk-kotaku-review-adventure-visual-novel-music-1849425358 A raw narrative gut punch