Review: We Are OFK is stylish, subversive TV disguised as an indie game
Think about variations of The Monkees TV sequence, subversive TV disguised or Beatles movies like Arduous Day’s Night time for the trendy period. What would possibly these appear like? I do not simply imply aesthetically—though any “songs throughout the present” would definitely differ from the jangly ’60s likes of “Daydream Believer.” What sort of story would it not inform? The place would the sequence air? How would it not be offered?
I returned to this thought typically whereas having fun with this week’s We Are OFK, which is as near a solution to my query as I’ve seen in a contemporary, hyper-connected period. This format-blurring expertise could also be marketed as a online game, out Thursday on PlayStation consoles, Swap, and PC, nevertheless it’s someplace between an interactive expertise, a passive TV sequence, and a visual novel. And its manufacturing values and courageous storytelling decisions profit wildly from this platform-agnostic method.
A “online game” that leaves exes on learn
The six-hour expertise, damaged up into 5 “episodes,” follows 4 stressed and disaffected Los Angelenos in a fictional, barely modified model of our personal world, as they be a part of forces to start out a pop band named OFK. Sure model names are modified (Twitter is now “Twitter,” Tinder is “Phoenix,” and so forth.), however, its characters in any other case order ride-share vehicles, go away messages on read, and doomscroll like modern-day twenty-somethings. Every of the 4 lead characters got here to LA to flee their outdated lives—a difficulty every reckons with in several methods—and, on the outset of this sequence’ episodes, discover themselves drawn to one another as a “band” whereas chasing their very own respective inventive and romantic goals.
This largely resembles an anime or CW TV sequence that focuses on the lives of younger individuals, versus a thriller or action-filled drama. But, regardless of not often tuning in to that type of fare, I discovered myself engrossed by We Are OFK‘s mixture of excessive manufacturing values, incredible voice appearing, and tasteful dollops of interactivity. Mechanically, the episodes can both work as a visible novel or an entirely passive TV-watching expertise. Selections don’t create diversions within the plot; as a substitute, gamers sometimes select considered one of three dialogue choices for a major character. These seem as thought bubbles with differing opinions that logically coexist as a response to what has simply occurred. You’ll be able to decide your favorite to information a personality’s dialogue in a given scene or let the sport auto-select one after a 10-second pause.
The sport’s different intelligent “interactive” content material comes when the angle zooms to a personality’s smartphone, the place gamers watch textual content message conversations play out in actual time. These alternate between rapid-fire message bursts and an ellipses icon (…) indicating that the character on the opposite finish is both typing, pausing, or deleting. We Are OFK is cautious to not overdo this with excruciatingly lengthy pauses. As an alternative, typically the sport permits you to press a button to skip forward with an immediate saying one thing like, “stare on the cellphone for 5 minutes whereas ready for a response.” In these interfaces, the sport permits you to use a joystick or a mouse to optionally scroll up on the digital smartphone display screen and see prior messages and emoji exchanged between characters. This cute Easter egg of character improvement jogs my memory of hidden, clickable bits in Flash animations of yore.