This interactive story tells the tale of four Los Angeles residents attempting to make it in the music industry.
Interactive story video games have become very popular over the past ten years. Thanks to the boom in popularity the sub-genre received due to the works of Telltale Games and their efforts such as the likes of The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, there have been plenty of similar titles over the past decade. This year alone, over the past few months we've had the well-received The Quarry from Supermassive Games, and soon after got As Dusk Falls from Interior/Night, and now as we head into the middle of August, the indie studio, Team OFK, is ready to grace us with We Are OFK, an episodic interactive story that follows the lives of four individuals based in Los Angeles as they attempt to break into the music industry and grapple with love and other emotions. While this game will debut episodically over the next few weeks, I've already had the chance to check it out in its entirety, and have plenty of thoughts.
First and foremost, I'd like to make it clear, due to its weekly episodic release schedule, that I won't be further exploring the main narrative and plot, at least any more than how I've already summed it up above. All you really need to know is there, as this is a game that mostly tackles the emotions and ways that the crew of four characters interact with the world and rely and develop from one another. It's wonderfully offered and is crammed with emotion and charm, and as you'd expect from a game that is based on LA souls in a creative field, it's incredibly progressive and inclusive in how it tells its tale.
And because it's an interactive story, We Are OFK is really easy to pick up and play. There are basically no controls whatsoever, in fact the bulk of the gameplay revolves around you choosing different responses either in dialogue or in text messages, and that allows you to drive the story and give it a slightly more personal touch. I will say that the ratio of dialogue-to-texting feels a little much, as at least half the game is told through text messaging, which I found to become a little bland as it lacks human emotion. And, the lack of a complex control scheme or much hands-on gameplay is a little bit of a flaw at the same time, as where certain games like As Dusk Falls at least keeps you on your toes with quick-time events, We Are OFK shares more similarities to that of a five-episode TV series - it's that hands-off. There are brief occasions where you get to do something a bit more exciting, as each episode concludes with a musical performance and an accompanying music video, which you can play around with while the song progresses, but there's no gravity to anything you do here, which does beg the question as to why it's even present.
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Still even though it is a video game, you don't come to a title like We Are OFK to be blown away by ingenious gameplay mechanics. No, you come for the story and the visual aesthetic: this game nails both. While it may be a little too emotional and artsy for some, I thought the way that Team OFK managed to breathe life into each character and allow them to shine with brilliant cast performances and plot development made for an entertaining narrative. Each character feels vitally important to what's going on, and likewise no character feels like a drag or dull in comparison - it's all balanced very well.
And as for the art style and visuals, the vibrant hues really do fit the tone of the tale and allow the storyline to excel in and of itself. Sure, it would have been nice to have a bit of extra detail here and there, especially in some of the supporting cast members and crowds who literally appear as faceless entities, but that does in a way affirm whose story is being told here and who the focal points of the game are.
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Team OFK has also done a wonderful job of not overcrowding or biting off more than they can chew. The story doesn't feel like it overstays its welcome, and while the end does come along pretty quickly, the more concise style of the narrative, which clocks in at around six hours, makes for a interesting tale that can be easily digested over one or two sittings - again like a mid-length TV series.
All in all, We Are OFK doesn't quite have that same gripping nature as some other interactive stories do, but what it does have is a boatload of charm and character. Its simplistic design is often positive, and its visuals and appearance are very eye-catching. As I said, it's one of few games in this day and age that is unapologetically progressive, and with that being the case I can already feel the surge of that dark and awful part of the internet who will have problems with it. But, if you're not part of that archaic community, We Are OFK is worth checking out, week-after-week, as there's a lot to appreciate and love in this game.
8 / 10
Story is interesting. Characters are well fleshed-out and developed. Brilliant cast performances. Engaging visuals and art style.
Sometimes its lack of gameplay elements becomes its biggest enemy. Too much of the story is told through text messaging. Music videos were hit or miss.