A raw narrative punch

A raw narrative punch

A raw narrative punch

We are OFK is a coming-of-age story about queer friends struggling to make it in Los Angeles’ brutal music scene that’s part interactive music video, but completely intense. Billed as an extended play (EP) album release with some synth-bops, this narrative adventure grabbed my heart with its harrowing themes about the creative process and its striking pastel visuals. honestly everyone We are OFK It left me teary-eyed after the first two episodes, and there are three more that are released weekly, with the third one dropping on August 25. It’s a heavy emotional journey, so I suggest you keep those tissues close.

The game follows four “super gay” homies—Carter Flores (them/them), Itsumi Saito (she/it), Jey Zhang (she/it), and Luca Le Fae (he/it)—who love music, but they are too afraid to commit to the craft. Instead, they lounge around Los Angeles, falling in and out of love, jumping between jobs, texting, drinking instead of practicing. Typical disgruntled youthful shit when, in all honesty, maybe you’re just afraid of failing. Eventually, some raw and compelling events blow up everyone’s lives and land them in the studio to work on the EP they’ve been avoiding. When Luca, an aspiring singer-songwriter who used to work on games writing character stories, texted upcoming studio producer Jey saying that he had been dodging her because he was afraid he wasn’t good enough and that people wouldn’t understand his expression, I felt it in my bones. I have the same fear

Itsumi Saito is having an existential meltdown in the middle of this boatload.

OK, fuck me, why don’t you…?
Screenshot: OFK Team

Part of the reason the story, and that exchange between Jey and Luca in particular, was so moving was because We are OFK has a dialogue system based on elections. You jump between characters quite frequently throughout the game, choosing things for Carter to speak at one point and selecting texts for Itsumi to send at the next. While each character, who eventually makes up the titular OFK gang, has their own distinct personality, you can imbue these people with a bit of yourself. That is also a slippery slope because sometimes, as was the case with We are OFK for me, the game can reflect something that maybe you didn’t want to hear or that you thought you had buried a long time ago. So there were many instances where, while I thought I was being true to the character, I was actually revealing layers of myself. I was drawn into introspection regarding my own impostor syndrome through the game.

There are a few places, like the interactive music videos that conclude each episode, where you control one of the characters, running around and completing arbitrary tasks like saving cats and popping balls. Low-key gameplay works exceptionally well here because it leaves room for the characters and narrative to fully inhabit the world you interact with. By simply asking her to engage in meaningful interactions instead of giving her the fantasy of constant control, you can soak up both the mesmerizing visuals and the infectious songs.

OFK Team

Thematically connected to the previous episode, the music here is as sumptuous as the visuals. They don’t just compose the game’s soundtrack; they also set the stage for the themes of love and loneliness, failure and friendship, to shine brightly. It is expansive and transporting, a driving force that underlines the story. Sometimes you will even hear song lyrics in the dialogue between characters. In truth, everything in We are OFK it’s a sensory delight, one that captivates at first glance and hooks you throughout its runtime.

From summer hues to soft backgrounds, every panel and screenshot in this game is a feast for the eyes. Sure, the character models are largely low-poly, which doesn’t give them all the face-emotion capabilities. But that lack of facial expressiveness is compensated by body language and vocal tone. These characters act and feel like real people you might meet in Los Angeles or real friends you might have in your circle. They’re believable, flawed individuals who send sentence fragments as text messages and obsess over the shine of their crush’s hair, all of which is a testament to the game’s heartfelt writing.

Each character has something, mostly self-inflicted, that prevents them from pursuing music as their main career. For one thing, it’s the side job that’s always in the way. On the other hand, it is the lack of motivation to finish what was started. In all cases, however, the refusal to pursue your dreams stems from the overwhelming fear of failure, the idea that everything you do will be for nothing and that you will not succeed in the path you choose. It’s a debilitating sentiment explored with aplomb here. I mean, the struggles of the band, both creatively and personally, reflect the struggles of all the artists.

After all, creating is hard. Finishing and sharing that creation with the world is even more difficult, and We are OFK understand that. The game gives you hints about the process of assembling not just music, but art in general. It illustrates the difficulty of putting your whole self into something for everyone to judge. Demonstrating what it takes to do one thing, the game pierced my heart, bringing my own fears around my choice of creative expression, writing, out into the open for me to examine closely. And like the characters towards the final episode of the game, I realized that what I need, what creatives need, more than confidence is a support system that reinforces positive beliefs in oneself. The creative process can be very isolating, but We are OFK It shows that it doesn’t have to be this way, that we can create with those who accept us for who we are and trust that we will be okay in the end.

Despite the fear that held him back, Luca Le Fae jumped into the booth and sang his heart out.

We are all looking for something bigger than this life…
Screenshot: OFK Team

Because that’s the real message at the end of the game. Life blows up sometimes, especially if you’re trying to make a living as a creative. Art is extremely volatile under capitalism. But through the support systems that cheer us on, whether it’s pushing us to do better or joining our indie pop band, we come to find that we’re fucking fine.

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