We Are OFK Review (PC)

We Are OFK Review: Is It A Game?

We Are OFK review

I’ve wrestled with whether certain visual novels are really video games before, but We Are OFK pushes me beyond that to the point where I actually lean towards not calling it one. There are choices to be made at times and mini-games in each chapter, but none of the choices you make in these have any impact on the ongoing game. The developers don’t even call it a game, instead referring to it as an interactive E.P. and biopic, which feels right.

The good news is that it doesn’t really matter. Those looking for deep gameplay, or really any gameplay, need not apply but judged on its own merits, We Are OFK is an excellent story. That it has more in common with an animated TV show than video games doesn’t take away from that. It’s just the latest example of the lines between media blurring.

Over five chapters, ranging between 52 and 84 minutes apiece, We Are OFK tells the story of the four members of this band as they come together and form something new. It’s a story deeply interested in what it means to create art, the difficulty of putting yourself out there, what life is like trying to make it in the entertainment industry, and how hard it is to find love.

 

Come Together

 

We Are OFK

The four members of the band are all interesting, though some chapters will focus on one or two of them over the others. First, you have Luca, who has always really wanted to make music but for years hasn’t really done so. Instead, he works as a game developer writing backstory for a game that is thriving in the eSports scene. At least, he works there until one day, he doesn’t, which forces him to evaluate what he wants out of life.

Luca’s friend Itsumi works with him at the game developer, but unlike Luca, this hasn’t stopped her from pursuing her musical aspirations, at least not entirely. She’s a trained concert pianist and continues to practice and work at it, though it’s hard to find the time she feels she needs for this while holding down a full-time job and trying to have a life. She’s also recently out of a relationship and having a hard time dealing with it.

Luca lives with Carter, an award-winning visual effects artist who is reserved and keeps their friends at arm’s length. While the group all like Carter and are wowed by their success and talent, they don’t fully allow their friends to get to know them. From early on, some conversations Carter has with Luca around loss make it clear they’re dealing with something, and We Are OFK eventually digs into where this is coming from, though it takes until chapter 4 for Carter to really get a spotlight. In the early going, they feel like the least developed part of the group. That said, Carter’s virtual cat Debug is almost the game’s mascot and is worthy of the role. They’re delightful.

The last group member is Jey, a hot producer who has developed a following but hasn’t quite hit the big time yet. She seems to have everything together and pushes Luca to take his music seriously and really commit to a new project. She sees a ton of potential in him but wants to make sure if she’s going to be a part of things, that it has a real shot at success. Unfortunately, while her career is going well, her personal life isn’t quite as well managed. Her family clearly loves her, but they also have expectations of her that she struggles to push back against, and she’s hiding significant aspects of her life from them.

 

A Diverse Cast

 

We Are OFK

All four members of the group are members of the queer community, something I’m not sure I’ve seen a game, or in this case something at least game adjacent, attempt before, and it’s great to see so many perspectives represented here. As we get to know these characters, romance is a major part of at least a few of their character arcs, but everyone is a fully developed character with wants and desires that go way beyond their romantic interests. I love how well the different aspects of each character are integrated into the ongoing plot and into why they want to work together as a group.

We Are OFK is incredibly well written, with dialogue which is believable while also incorporating fake slang and names. I loved the developer’s alternate versions of various social media sites, for example, which are sprinkled liberally throughout the game. Some of these choices might come across poorly in the hands of a weaker voice cast, but the cast assembled here, made up of a series of veterans of animated films, television, and games, handle it with ease and help make these characters deeply relatable.

 

Dabbles In Gameplay

 

We Are OFK

I still haven’t really talked about what it’s like to play We Are OFK though, and there’s a reason for that. There’s just very little to it. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a game that gives you a runtime for each chapter, but that’s because, with most games, the runtime will depend on the player. That’s not the case here. You frequently get to make dialogue (or text messaging) choices, but none of them seem to have any impact on the ongoing narrative. Often none of them really could because the choices aren’t really that different. While you jump between the perspectives of the four characters, you’re not really controlling who they are, that’s established. If Luca gets bad news, your choice often isn’t whether to react well or react badly, but rather in how snarky you want your negative reaction to be.

The only other gameplay comes in the form of a music video which ends each chapter. As this is meant to be an interactive E.P., theoretically, each chapter should tie in with the music which ends it. How successful that is varies by chapter. Some of the songs work as the capper to their segment while others feel a bit more tacked on. The music itself is as mixed as its implementation. Follow/Unfollow is a genuinely good song, and Fool’s Gold works well in context, even if it’s a bit generic. Other songs are just okay, though none of them are bad. Each music video features some sort of gameplay. One has you controlling a flame and destroying everything that comes before you. Another has you riding a skateboard and gathering tokens shaped like Debug. The videos themselves are visually interesting, but the gameplay is consistently shallow and pointless. Even making these segments mechanically interesting and offering a high score leaderboard would have added some sort of interesting gameplay to the mix, but that just doesn’t seem to be something the development team were interested in.

 

Conclusion

 

The developers of We Are OFK don’t even pretend to care about making a traditional video game. It’s clear that instead, the entire goal here was to tell a story, and that’s incredibly well done. Not perfectly so. I don’t love where We Are OFK leaves one of their characters in particular, and the ending feels rushed. After spending hours with these four characters, setting up conflict, it feels like a lot of things get pushed aside to get to where the game needs them to end up, almost like the development team ran out of time. With deep character writing, fantastic voice acting, and killer visuals, though, I’d recommend We Are OFK to anyone who is okay with this being a story first, a vehicle for releasing music second, and barely a game at all.

 


Final Verdict: 4/5

Available on: PC (Reviewed), PS5, PS4, Switch; Publisher:  Team OFK; Developer: Team OFK; Players: 1; Released: August 18th, 2022; ESRB: M for Mature; MSRP: $19.99

Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of We Are OFK provided by the publisher.

Andrew Thornton
Andrew has been writing about video games for nearly twenty years, contributing to publications such as DarkStation, Games Are Fun, and the E-mpire Ltd. network. He enjoys most genres but is always pulled back to classic RPG's, with his favorite games ever including Suikoden II, Panzer Dragoon Saga, and Phantasy Star IV. Don't worry though, he thinks new games are cool too, with more recent favorites like Hades, Rocket League, and Splatoon 2 stealing hundreds of hours of his life. When he isn't playing games he's often watching classic movies, catching a basketball game, or reading the first twenty pages of a book before getting busy and forgetting about it.

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