An animated drama more than a video game, We Are OFK isn’t going to appeal to everyone.
Go into this drama about a group of LA friends in the process of setting up a band expecting something like Life is Strange, and you’re going to be disappointed. Sure, you have the odd dialogue choice to make but these are entirely superfluous, added simply to gamify the experience to some degree. Mostly, this is a passive experience: there are five episodes in total, each around an hour long, each unravelling the lives of its characters in one way or another.
We can’t help but feel that We Are OFK would have been better as a limited television series. After all, it has all the hallmarkings of a Netflix teen special: annoying gen-Y characters, over-the-top text speak and a plot concerned with sex, LGBT romance and young people figuring out how to find themselves in the world while not disappointing their parents.
It’s not a bad plot, per se, but it’s hard to get into at first, burdened by characters that are initially unlikeable and unrelatable thanks to the annoying way they speak to each other. Do people actually converse like this in real life? Spoken dialogue often feels like nothing but overexcited nonsense with far too many “fucks” thrown in, and text messages – of which there are also far too many – are a deluge of undecipherable emojis and little else. Perhaps that’s just us showing our age, but it makes for cringeworthy reading and listening at times.
That’s not to say the acting in We Are OFK is bad. The cast delivers what they have to work with well, and as annoying as they may be, the characters are at least believable. Perhaps the biggest problem here is that getting to know each of the characters feels like a chore; for the first few episodes we felt like an outsider being forced to listen to “inside” conversations between an impenetrable friendship group. Thankfully, we eventually warmed to them as we learned more about their lives, but had We Are OFK actually been a TV series, we don’t think we would have continued past the first episode.
There are things to like about We Are OFK, however. This is a wonderfully animated series, and the art direction deserves to be celebrated. It’s colourful, vibrant and filled with life. And, being about a budding band, music is of course very important. The score throughout is excellent, perfectly matched to the action on screen, but the real highlights of We Are OFK are its music videos. Each episode features one full-length song accompanied by an interactive video, and they’re just wonderful.
Whether you enjoy the songs will depend on your taste in music, but even if they’re not your cup of tea there’s no denying that they’re well-produced. A poppy mix of electro and indie, each track is equally enjoyable, brought to life with a music video that both ties into the narrative of its respective episode and the themes of the song. Every video has an interactive element of some sort: maybe you can control a character, or perhaps you can move a cursor over a statue to destroy it. The actions are optional – you can simply sit back and enjoy the video if you like. But you might as well join in: after all, it’s the most interaction that We Are OFK will ever give you.
It’s safe to say that We Are OFK won’t be for everyone. As far as interactive narrative adventures go, it’s one of the most passive we’ve encountered, feeling more like an animated TV series than a video game. Add in characters that are difficult to get to know and dialogue that’s likely to grate, and you’ve got an experience that’s tough to recommend. Thankfully, the excellent music videos do offer some redemption, and if you stick with it, you’ll eventually warm to its colourful cast. However you feel about them though, you probably won’t have played anything else quite like this.