There are many difficult things in a man’s life. Being a dad is one. Being married is another. But what about being an octopus in disguise? Octodad: Dadliest Catch is the perfect answer to that question.
Octodad is a game that’s incredibly silly. Well, silly doesn’t fully describe it. Sometimes, it’s a little stupid, but in a good way. Rarely, it turns out to be a little annoying and unhinged. But… then again, when you are controlling a cephalopod trying to pass off as a human family man to everyone else, including his family, you can expect to have an tinsy bit of trouble, right?
An Xbox 360 or similar controller is by far the best way to play Octodad. Grasping the control scheme is easy enough, even though it sounds anything but intuitive at first. Each of ‘Dad’s arms is controlled by an analog stick and his legs (basically two of his tentacles bounded together so he can stand up straight) are controlled by the triggers. The trick is to get into a rhythmic pattern of pumping the triggers in order to get him to walk, which becomes second nature in the first few minutes of playing.
Picking up and using items, though, is a little trickier thanks to the constant camera shifts and the inherent “wobbly-ness” that comes with controlling a cartoony creature with no bones. Useful objects that can be grabbed and that are close to Octodad are highlighted, which streamlines the process of finding what you need to be using. The game is quite forgiving in regards to making use of what you are holding, so long as you get close enough to where it needs to be used.
The obvious fun in Octodad is fumbling around and trying to get through the ridiculously common family situations he’s put through, like going to the market or cooking a barbeque for his family. Towards the end of the game you are put into spots that require more finesse and precision, which an octopus, surprisingly enough, is anything but.
As easygoing as Dadliest Catch is most of the time, it’s very possible to fail. Too much fumbling, which mostly boils down to hitting other people, raises a suspicion meter. Once that’s full, you get a reload to the previous checkpoint. No worries, though, most of the time, your failures result in hilarious disasters thanks to the humor that stems from the absurd physics engine within the game.
Gags and references to pop culture and indie games are just a few of the little tidbits of laughs that manage to keep you into the game ’til the end. That and ‘Dad’s absurd amount of charm right from the start of the game, cutely burbbling and tumbling his way through life.
In fact, the entirety of Octodad: Dadliest Catch is cute. Graphically, it’s a simple looking but very colorful game. Octodad’s design evolved a lot from its original concept featured in the older free to play version; he’s now much more expressive. He can’t utter a word and his blurbbling speak makes him even more appealing as a character. Side characters are also very well put together, especially Octodad’s family members, who are as oblivious to his true nature as everyone else.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch was my favorite game of last year’s E3. The full version only impressed me further. This isn’t the deepest game you are likely to play in 2014, but it just might be the funniest. The idea of having a three hour long downloadable title that hinges on clumsy controls might sound like a nightmare at first… this game is anything but.