Octodad: Dadliest Catch Review – Joyous Flailing
The video game industry has a great way of reminding us of alternatives to the popular norm. While most video games want to make us feel things with grand epics like BioShock Infinite, The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls, games like Octodad: Dadliest Catch simply want to make us laugh. Created by independent studio Young Horses, Octodad takes a simple concept and makes it entertaining for its entire campaign, which is an admittedly short 2-3 hours. However, it doesn’t need to be any longer as it only sticks around as long as it needs, bringing a smile to your face and leaves before it gets frustrating or the joke gets old.
Developed by Young Horses
Published by Young Horses
Platform: Windows [reviewed], OS X, Linux
Released on 1-30-2014
So what’s the joke? You are an octopus dressed in a suit trying to keep your cephalopod identity from society, as well as your wife and kids. Yes, for some reason, your wife and somehow conceived kids don’t know you’re an octopus. However, this becomes more difficult when your family takes an impromptu trip to the aquarium, where a sushi chef who knows your secret identity, resides. Most of the game is you trying to perform simple tasks like putting on a hat, mowing the lawn or getting a carton of milk. However, being an octopus turns these simple everyday tasks into awkward but hilarious endeavors.
Much of this awkwardness is due to the controls, which are intentionally clumsy. On the PC, the game is mostly controlled with the mouse only and you must switch between your arm and legs by clicking the middle mouse button. This is actually too unintuitive and I would recommend using a PC controller, which has your legs controlled with the triggers and left analog stick and your arm with the right bumper and right analog stick. Still not the best layout but it makes more sense and it’s actually enjoyable to fumble with this layout.
Unintuitive controls may sound like a negative to any game but it actually makes sense when the person you’re controlling isn’t a person at all but an octopus with tentacles trying to use said tentacles as human arms and legs. Much of the enjoyment of the game comes from you failing miserably to do average tasks normally and for the most part, people around you being completely oblivious to it.
Now, one mechanic of the game is if you screw up badly, such as by hitting people or being seen by marine biologists who can see through your disguise, you’ll be found out and will have to try again. However, this mechanic is very forgiving and you’ll only worry about this during the few stealth sections in the game.
The few stealth sections of the game do ask you to be more prescise with your movements, which is not what the game has been about for the most part up until then. However, I found these sections to be fairly simple and straight forward and not difficult at all.
However, one section that was difficult was the final boss fight, in which you are now meant to do the more precise movements quickly with the threat of a one hit kill. This encounter was the one section of the game where it was more irritating than enjoyable. Talking about faults, the game’s camera can sometimes make it hard to see what you’re doing and the camera controls don’t really do much of anything other than nudge it slightly.
Graphically, the game is pretty ugly and basic, but again this feels like an intentional decision. The music is very catchy and has a simple wholesome feel to it. Octodad himself gurgles when he talks, which somehow everyone understands, and the captions of what he says describes his dialogue rather than directly translating it, often to great comedic effect.
Aside from some user generated levels options, the game’s campaign is all there is to do. However, the game does feature a local cooperative mode, where each player controls a different limb, that you assign. There’s even a roulette mode, that has the limb you and your friend control change each time you finish an objective. Although perhaps too difficult for later levels, this is a hilarious option for people to try out. Flailing around, desperately trying to work together will make for a fun time.
Octodad is a short game with one well done gimmick. As such, this isn’t for everyone. A game where just walking across a room can be challenging will frustrate some people and the mundane tasks may bore some people who don’t find the controls entertaining enough to carry the game. However, this is still an entertaining title that’s well worth your time if you like quirky or funny games or if you are tired of the triple A games industry.
3.5 out of 5