GAME NAME: Octodad: Dadliest Catch
DEVELOPER(S): Young Horses, Inc.
PUBLISHER(S): Young Horses, Inc.
PLATFORM(S): PC, Mac, Linux (Steam), PS4
GENRE(S): Adventure, Experimental
RELEASE DATE(S): January 30th, 2014
Getting through life’s mundanities can be a chore unto itself, but it becomes all the more complicated when you’re an octopus in a suit trying to keep your invertebrate status a secret from society in general and your human family in particular. That’s the concept behind Octodad: Dadliest Catch, and it’s every bit as crazy as it sounds.
A sucker for details
Octodad is sort of an experimental narrative physics game with assorted mechanics that come close to what might be described as “puzzles”. There is a strong element of humour as players take on the titular character and quite literally bumble their way through his life. It is absurdism on a cartoonish level, particularly because almost everybody in the game’s world is cheerfully oblivious to Octodad’s true identify, despite the glaringly obvious giveaways. He also leaves behind a trail of destruction wherever he goes, mainly because his movement isn’t exactly – how shall we say – of the most graceful variety.
Players alternate between controlling Octodad’s “legs” and “arms” via the mouse. The arms are the most manageable; objects in the game world may be picked up and dropped with a fair degree of accuracy thanks to these sucker-endued appendages. The legs, however, are another story, as they flay and limp around your body’s centre of gravity with much recklessness. The end result is a hilarious slapstick tour-de-force taken to the nth degree and it’s nigh-impossible to sit through the story without a giggle and a smirk on your face. In short, the developers have managed to take bad controls and turn it into the focus of a game. Surgeon Simulator also did it previously (with similarly hilarious results), but Dadliest Catch expands the concept much further.
Poking and cephalopoding
Of course, life as an octopus masquerading as a human is not all fun and games. Octodad, despite his unwieldy movement, is expected to do a husband’s requisite chores such as mowing the lawn and shopping for groceries. Maintaining the façade becomes your prime concern, as acting too clumsily will arouse suspicion. To make matters worse, an evil chef knows your secret and is out to turn you into a seafood platter; battles with the chef occur at various intervals and, once again, your family and bystanders are left laughably oblivious to just what exactly is going on.
Later on in his pursuit of the American Dream, our boneless protagonist is expected to take on various stealth missions which are the low point of the game. It doesn’t gel with the light-hearted tone of the rest of the story and quickly becomes a monotonous chore. Fortunately, these don’t detract from the overall enjoyment… too much. It seems to work surprisingly better when you have another player in co-op helping you; and yes, as you can imagine, two players trying to control Octodad’s body is hysterically funny.
Going in for the tenta-kill
The title has a wonderfully cartoony CGI look going for it, which perfectly suits the atmosphere. Characters are well-animated, fluid and objects in the game world are easily identifiable. The voice acting is top-notch, and you can’t help but love the cheerfully mundane banter from your wife and kids. The only downside seems to be the music: it’s uplifting and all, in a Sims sorta way, but it starts to get grating after a while. Other neat touches include assorted references to other indie games and cute easter eggs scattered throughout.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is quite a refreshing gaming experience. Well, insomuch as it can actually be called a “game”, at any rate. At times, it’s more along the lines of an interactive cartoon. Despite an overall short play length time and the inclusion of questionable mechanics such as stealth, it’s a testament to the creative and zany spirit that can still be found in the gaming scene and it comes recommended to anybody looking for something a little bit different and off-the-wall without being trashy and vulgar. Oh, and you might want to tackle this one with a partner if you want some extra laughs. Snag it on Steam here.