We Are OFK Pushes The Boundaries Of What It Means To Be A Video Game
We Are OFK is a strangely dichotomous experience. In some ways the game feels hypermodern, with its Gen Z cast, up to the minute social mores, and extremely current soundtrack. In others it’s dated, with clunky gameplay, PS3-era graphics, and an episodic release format. It’s complex in its emotions and worldview, but simplistic in its plot and morality. Character voices go places we wouldn’t expect, and narrative goes exactly where we knew it always would. It’s a fresh reinvention of what it means to be a video game, made up of all the things we’ve seen before. It’s past. It’s present. It’s future. It’s We Are OFK.
It reminds me a lot of The Artful Escape, which finished a respectable fourth on my Game of the Year list in 2021. We Are OFK is in contention for the lower reaches of this year’s list, but there’s more than just ‘sure, I liked them’ that makes them worthy of comparison. More even than the fact both are infused with music. The Artful Escape's gameplay makes it a fairly generic platformer, walking from the left of the screen to the right, jumping across each platform as required. As a result, it's easy to argue that it's dated. But it alights a feeling in you, a deep connection with music, identity, and destiny, that makes it feel fresh. In a world where the biggest games chase action-packed cinematic storytelling with increasingly stale and similar emotional beats, the buckwild psychedelic freedom of The Artful Escape is just what gaming needed.
We Are OFK does not have the wild screech of The Artful Escape. It is Conan Gray to The Artful Escape's 13th Floor Elevators. It's the quietly resonant emotions of Joji, beabadoobee, Chloe Moriondo, mxmtoon, not the squeals of exuberance of Cream, The Yardbirds, The Who, or Jimi Hendrix. Bedroom pop has been taking over music for the past few years, but We Are OFK might be the world's first bedroom video game. Much like Olivia Rodrigo's melodies, We Are OFK moves in a slow, sweet rhythm. It's rarely challenging, it's often heartbreaking. Many of its more emotional moments see one heart break, four hands bloody.
I was left disappointed that The Artful Escape didn't make much of a splash last year, despite my best efforts of never shutting up about it, and I think We Are OFK might suffer the same fate. We will not look back on We Are OFK as gaming's When We Fall Asleep Where Do We Go, but it still feels like a positive step in gaming seeing itself as more than a platform for interactive movies. We Are OFK relishes its storytelling, becoming almost a visual novel at times, but takes its gamification to surreal and boundless limits, and that's before we meet the infusion of music itself. Much like K/DA, We Are OFK are a band within the reality of the video game, but they exist in our reality too. The game charts their journey in making their first EP, and this EP will be available in the real world.
Quite whether the game becomes a launching pad for a band that continues to thrive, or whether the band is merely an extension of the game to retreat into the shadows as the next project approaches, we have no idea right now, but it's a fascinating collaboration between two (arguably three, with the game acting as a pseudo-documentary a la Driving Home 2 U: A Sour Film) artistic mediums. Gaming sees its future as bigger games, better graphics, and more triangles, but progress is not always so full of glitz and glamour. Progress sometimes comes not with all the sound and fury, but with the flourish of a quiet synth.
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