We Are OFK has a very cool premise. Mixing collectively the notes of a visible novel and a biopic, it’s the origin of a band referred to as OFK–their first single, Follow/Unfollow, debuted throughout The Game Awards 2020 whereas the remainder of the group’s first EP will launch over a five-week interval later this yr.OFK is an actual band, albeit one which options digital members. This is not a case the place developer Team OFK is making a music-based recreation and subsequently releasing the soundtrack. The workforce has designed OFK in the identical vein as different digital music artists and teams, like Hatsune Miku or Ok/DA. We Are OFK is the “televised” biopic of how the group’s 4 members–pianist Itsumi Saitō (Ally Maki), singer/songwriter Luca Le Fae (Teddy Dief), audiovisual artist Carter Flores (Syhaya Aviel), and producer Jey Zhang (Fiona Rene)–became a gaggle within the first place.
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Now Playing: We are OFK | Playstation State of Play 2021
“[We Are OFK] started as a game project that was meant to be about what we know–a story about people making things and trying to just get shit done in Los Angeles, with focuses on friendships and relationships,” artistic director Teddy Dief informed me. Alongside being the voice for OFK’s lead singer, Dief additionally helms the artistic course of the studio behind the band’s biopic.”But we didn’t want to make a game about people making games,” they continued. “It made a lot of sense to do music because our producer at the time had a background in music business and she knows her way around the industry. And I have a vocal background. So we were like, ‘Oh, we can put something together where we could actually, from the beginning, make a professional music project that isn’t just a traditional video game soundtrack.’ Like we could actually do a proper band and then tell their story.”Though We Are OFK began as a recreation, Dief hopes that that is not how most individuals first expertise the venture. “In terms of how we talk about the project and want people to experience it, the coolest scenario is people hearing the first single on the Spotify app, and then they go, ‘Oh, shit. There’s also a biopic about this band.’ That’s way more interesting to us, and how we want to relate to people–the band first and the stories second.”This state of affairs is not a novel concept–there have been fictional biopics for loads of actual musical artists and bands, akin to The Monkees and Big Time Rush. As far as I can inform although, that is the primary time such a narrative is being informed for a band composed of digital folks in addition to the primary time such a narrative has been informed via the lens of an episodic online game versus a tv sequence, thus inviting the viewer to take part within the narrative.I obtained an opportunity to play the primary episode of We Are OFK, which introduces all 4 members of the group however primarily focuses on the angle of Itsumi. It’s a really dialogue-driven opening, forgoing stilted exposition so as to transfer the motion alongside at a compelling tempo. I managed to catch snippets of characterization that briefly appeared on the backside of previous cellphone textual content chains earlier than new messages pushed them out of body, and dialogue choices supplied perception into how a personality was feeling, no matter which alternative I picked–all of which felt like a extra pure manner of introducing me to those characters than an in depth account of their backstory. I used to be rewarded for paying consideration as a substitute of getting particulars simply being spoon-fed to me.By the tip of the episode’s 50ish minute runtime, I used to be hooked and looking forward to extra. Episode 1 appears like a superb TV present pilot, which is sensible given We Are OFK author Claire Jia’s historical past penning for television–previously, she’s written for TV sequence Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens and Fresh Off the Boat.In persevering with that TV connection, We Are OFK is being launched like a televised sequence. When the sport launches, gamers will solely be capable to entry Episode 1, with every subsequent episode releasing on a weekly schedule. Each of the 5 episodes may also mark the discharge of a brand new single from OFK, all of which can debut on digital music storefronts.”And weekly releases are a thing in music as well,” Dief added. “Our record label person and our manager both said, ‘You should give them weekly releases–that’s what works best on music platforms.’ So it all can be congealed together–weekly releases make sense for TV, and it makes sense for the songs too.”But what in regards to the recreation itself? Team OFK describes We Are OFK much less as a recreation and extra as an “interactive experience,” which appears apt primarily based on what I played–it options moments of gameplay, but it surely performs out much more like a tv present with interactive parts. It’s very Kentucky Route Zero in how every thing performs out, although with a far brighter colour palette and characters who’d match extra at house in one thing like Life is Strange or Persona.The story begins with Itsumi within the midst of an emotional and psychological downward spiral. With over a decade of expertise enjoying the piano, Itsumi is attempting to make it in Los Angeles, however she’s barely scraping by on her meager wage working for a recreation developer, and folk aren’t lining as much as safe her for paying gigs–she’s solely had a couple of gives, none of which have led to an enormous break. She’s burnt out, struggling to seek out the enjoyment in practising music whereas her ex is badgering her with unsolicited textual content messages.Itsumi’s battle is a relatable one–it’s right here that We Are OFK’s first episode finds its biggest energy, and I hope it is one which continues all through the sport’s different 4. Even when you have no connection to the music trade or information of the way it works–like me–We Are OFK’s story remains to be approachable. Its plot is constructed round themes which can be straightforward to grasp no matter your passions. These aren’t of us fighting superstar stardom or stressing about lots of of pages of contracts–in We Are OFK, Itsumi, Luca, Carter, and Jey grapple with imposter syndrome, heartbreak, the undesirable ideas that it’s best to fill free time with sensible actions which can be productive, and what it is like to remodel what you like into the profession that you must do so as to make sufficient cash to reside comfortably.”I think that those experiences transcend the medium,” stated Dief. “My background in music is one of the reasons why we did it the way we did it. Like I sing the songs. And in terms of the writing process, we definitely did have a lot of conversations with our producer Mikayla Foote–who comes from music and artist management–and then set up a lot of phone calls with both people we were working with on the music side, like our songwriter.”But as a lot as we might, we went, ‘Hey, what’s it love to do your job and what sucks and who makes your job laborious?’ It’s not like in Episode 2, [the characters] are going to spend the entire episode within the studio. That’s not truly attention-grabbing to observe. Most of the time you are simply sitting there. It’s extra attention-grabbing to observe what’s taking place proper earlier than and proper after [those moments in the studio].” According to Dief, those are the moments that people will more easily relate to.And they’re right–I walked away from the We Are OFK preview feeling like Team OFK had researched my own life for inspiration in constructing the game’s narrative. As I imagine most folks in their mid-20s to early-30s who pursued careers in writing, music, art, or other creative fields may feel after playing through the first episode of We Are OFK. It certainly doesn’t pull any punches when diving into the struggles that such a career can have–I teared up a bit listening to Itsumi confide in Carter as to why she’s struggling to keep practicing piano (an emotional scene that should be experienced firsthand), and I nodded in deep understanding when Luca tried to explain to his friends that he was working at a company that made him miserable because it not only paid alright but because it offered health insurance that he needed.”There’s no conventional villain as a result of everybody may be very flawed and everybody finally works one another in numerous methods,” writer Claire Jia told me. “Even folks that we arrange as very harmless or incapable of injuring others can finally reveal themselves to have made errors as properly. We simply actually needed it to really feel like while you’re engaged on issues with your mates and it oftentimes shouldn’t be a state of affairs the place somebody is purposely doing all of the fallacious issues and is the dangerous man, it is simply that generally persons are incompatible or they don’t seem to be talking their reality essentially or being susceptible sufficient with one another. So that results in miscommunications.”Dief added, “I agree with Claire, the attention-grabbing battle is that you’re attempting to make one thing with a bunch of different individuals who have their very own priorities and wishes and desires and needs for the venture and issues which can be distracting them. And that is what creates the [conflict] that we truly wish to discuss.”Like a visual novel, most of what you’re doing is selecting how characters respond in text messages or conversations. Your decisions don’t alter the overall narrative–no matter what choices you make, Episode 1 is always going to end in the same way. But your choices can inform the relationships of the characters. Each option reflects one of the varying thoughts in the character’s head–it’s up to you to decide what they actually type out/say out loud. This will, in turn, dictate how the other characters respond.As stated before, Episode 1 focuses on Itsumi, but you occasionally jump into Luca’s perspective too. According to Team OFK, each of the episodes will focus on a different member of the band, but you’ll regularly switch between multiple characters, occasionally even participating in one conversation from both characters’ point-of-view.”We swap views with every episode,” Jia said. “Each episode takes place chronologically after the opposite, however we needed you to see the occasions play out via totally different folks’s eyes and regardless that it is a recreation, it is also a sequence, and we love the thought of this like TV-esque launch construction the place you are enjoying one episode after which ready for the subsequent episode.Also, the episodes themselves observe [the passing of time], just like the second episode takes place roughly per week after the primary episode. We needed the sport to be very hyper sensible. So as you are enjoying it, you might be in there dwelling with them. In the identical manner that they’ve to attend, you need to wait as properly.”It’s a bit too soon for me to say that We Are OFK doesn’t have much in terms of gameplay–it could be way more game-like than I’m giving it credit for. The one part of We Are OFK that looks to be most interactive and video game-like is also the only aspect I wasn’t able to try: the music videos. Each episode introduces one of OFK’s first five songs, and you’ll have some control in how the music videos for these songs play out. The music videos weren’t ready in the build I played, but I did get to see how they might work in a video, and Dief described how each features different gameplay.”We actually did signal ourselves up for making 5 further video video games,” Dief said. Unlike most music-focused games, We Are OFK won’t test you on your rhythm or ability to memorize the notes of a song. As Dief describes it, the music video sections are designed more around the idea of “making you are feeling musical.” You can’t mess up and enter a fail state.”And the interactions are all completely totally different,” Dief continued. “There’s one simply the place you are doing a bunch of destruction as a result of it is like a really aggressive track. There’s one which options a little bit island builder, as a result of there is a artistic ingredient to it. But they’re all meant to be playful and make you are feeling concerned within the music, which is what this entire factor is about–us attempting to be like, ‘Hey, we now have this band and this music and we would like you to be concerned with it.'”Jia added, “We undoubtedly are striving to actually put you in [OFK’s] footwear. So the music movies are very a lot of the emotion of regardless of the character is feeling in that particular second. [Dief] talked about earlier than the destruction one the place one of many music movies is available in throughout a very emotionally salient second and the music video is what the participant chooses to do in that emotional second. It’s all about destroying as a result of that is what the character goes via of their thoughts as properly. It’s just like the dialogue choices–our interactivity is much less about deciding how one can change every thing, and extra like, ‘Oh, there are a few issues you’ll be able to say.’ And then it’d have an effect on the state of affairs in a small way–sort of like a dialog in actual life, the refined methods by which you reply to somebody and alter the way in which that somebody thinks about you or responds.”We Are OFK’s soundtrack is a collaboration, composed from the combined talents of Dief and indie musicians Luna Shadows and Thom Powers. Episode 1 features a lot of soft rhythmic beats–it’s got a relaxing dream-like quality to it. I like it, though I’m hopeful we get to see a larger variety of stylistic choices throughout the course of the game as the members of OFK experiment and try to find their respective identities in the musical world.Though We Are OFK isn’t even out yet, I did ask Dief and Jia about the future of OFK. Once the game and all the songs are out, what’s next? Do we get another game continuing the band’s journey? Or does OFK release more music? Short answer: It could be both.”Claire and I discuss this, and folks go, ‘Oh what’s subsequent?’ or, ‘When it comes out, then what occurs?’ and, properly, it relies upon. If the band takes off, then the band is happening tour,” Dief said. “But perhaps somebody is like, ‘Oh I need you to make extra sequence or do DLC,’ Like, it is both–every day it is each.And since we’re workshopping the long run as a venture proper now, I really feel just like the band wants time. Like they want time to play reveals and reside and do all that stuff earlier than we might even wish to inform the subsequent stage of the story, as a result of the entire idea–without spoiling–is that the story [of We Are OFK] shouldn’t be imagined to get into the long run [of OFK].”So I suppose we’ll simply have to attend and see what the reception to OFK is like. We Are OFK is scheduled to launch someday this yr, releasing for PS5, PS4, and PC. If you are looking for extra indie video games to look ahead to, try our record of 27 video games in 2022 you should not overlook–one of which is We Are OFK.