When I first learned about We Are OFK it didn’t initially capture my interest. A music focused narrative about a band? I’m intrigued, but unsure if the episodic, cinematic nature of the game was something I would latch on to but I’m so glad I decided to plug in my headphones and take the ride. We Are OFK is an interactive story following the birth of the titular OFK, that strums back and forth across the lines of life and music in five episodes that’s just a few notes shy of a standing ovation.
Each episode of We Are OFK has you spending time with Itsumi Saito, Carter Flores, Luca Le Fae, and Jey Zhang by taking turns weaving in-between the cast while showcasing the biopic through multiple lenses. The roughly five and a half hour experience shares a raw and partially true story about music, love, friendship, and realizing it’s okay if everything isn’t perfect. There were dozens of instances where I related to the personal and creative struggles each of the bandmates grappled with, leaving me reflecting on my own relationships and hardships. Throughout OFK’s story, I found myself audibly laughing at band banter and shiny-eyed at earnest moments of truth. It didn’t matter whether I was picking a text response for Luca, listening to Jey drop a snappy one-liner, or watching one of the band members realizing that learning to love the people in your life as they are in the present rather than rejecting their growth, all of the nuances of We Are OFK’s narrative kept me just as hooked as the bops layered throughout the game. Each section of the game builds up towards a music video and after my anticipation of that moment throughout episode one, I expected to feel that way throughout my time with We Are OFK but was both surprised and elated when my voyage through each episode didn’t ever feel like a slog while salivating for the music video to drop.
The music throughout We Are OFK almost always captures the essence of the scenes, helping construct solid foundations for critical moments while also keeping the vibes in check as you sip on boba tea and reply to texts. Although, the score slithering it’s way through each scene is only the accoutrement to the finale of each episode, the single and accompanying music video. Contextually resonant while also being bangers in their own regard, each of the five tracks are presented as interactive music videos. As of writing this, episode two’s Fool’s Gold might be both my favorite video and song in the whole EP, but both episode three and five are closely behind it in terms of which songs I find myself replaying in my car, in my shower, in my head, heck, I’ve had Fool’s Gold on repeat almost exclusively while writing this.
However, the biggest downside to We Are OFK is how the game approaches it’s player interactivity. While the dialogue choices and text conversations were perfect ways to stimulate engagement and add more emotional investment and depth to characters and scenes, the way you interact with most of the music videos is rather bland. Each music video has varied ways in which you play these segments, but aside from fruitless fun the gameplay itself is inconsequential and won’t result in failing or a different narrative outcome if you simply choose to not engage with them in that way. During certain songs, I almost wish you weren’t interacting because the cinematography and artistic choices within them were far more immersive to me than the interactions were. I’ve gone back and played the music videos all more than once, but ever since my first time through the game I have never felt compelled to trigger any inputs during them on repeat viewings.
Although We Are OFK may not hit the high notes with its gameplay, it’s music and narrative coupled together are surely the aural odyssey you’ve been looking for. With a story teeming with multiple beating hearts, honest writing and dialogue that fleshed out each of the band members, believable and energizing performances by the voice actors, all swirling together under its original soundtrack, We Are OFK soars as something I haven’t quite encountered before. Selfishly, I was hoping to find a specific Sayonara Wild Hearts-like experience in We Are OFK and I’m glad I didn’t, because what I found instead was the willingness to whip my woes off a bridge and learn to love my leveled up self, and this galaxy boy can’t wait to listen to it again.
The first two episodes of We Are OFK launch on August 18th, 2022 on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, and Steam. We reviewed We Are OFK on Steam with a key provided by the publisher.
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