Home Games & Tech Review: Octodad: Dadliest Catch

Review: Octodad: Dadliest Catch

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Who’s that man with the three-piece suit?

Makin’ a doll with a log and fruit,

Who’s that man with the eight strong legs?

Tried to make me breakfast but he broke my eggs!

Octodad – nobody suspects a thing…

Image Credits: octodadgame.com
Image Credits: octodadgame.com

(First things first, the suit is only a two-piece. That octopus is not wearing a waistcoat.)

Octodad: Dadliest Catch is the second game from Young Horses, Inc, an independent company formed by students from DePaul University, and is a sequel to the freeware simply known as Octodad. The game’s plot is centred around a man who is trying to raise his family, all the while hiding that he is, in fact, an octopus. His nemesis is a sushi chef trying to reveal his secret so that Octodad can be cooked.

Sounding a bit fishy? (Apologies for the pun.) Well, it gets better.

The gameplay mimics that bane of all casual gamers, QWOP; the left and right mouse buttons control the legs, or tentacles, of Octodad, and if you press spacebar, those mouse controls then operate his ‘arms’. Your missions are to perform domestic tasks, such as gardening and shopping, without knocking over everything in your path and having bystanders realise your hidden ‘squiddiness’.

The game is short, with easily a three-hour completion time; but I would rather call it an experience rather than a game, as the gameplay is where it falls down. Controlling the equivalent of an open-world QWOP is as difficult as it sounds, and after the first few attempts to navigate Octodad from one spot to another, it stops being fun and you start getting the strange desire to stop playing the game and order some fish and chips as revenge. Also, because of the enforced stealth element in certain sections, a mechanic that only belongs in one of the Seven Circles of Hell (or, for the video game equivalent, Dark Souls), parts of the game feel irritatingly complicated – doubly so when the complication is just moving Octodad’s leg.

Image Credits: octodadgame.com
Image Credits: octodadgame.com

However, it is written well. Passing comments from NPCs are the best, from Octodad calling aquariums “festering prisons of iniquity” (all translated from ‘adamant denial blurbs’ by the subtitles), or marine biologists that “know a fish when they see one”, who become obvious enemies remarking “I love when the aquarium is closed…So I can tap on the glass and not feel like a hypocrite.” 

And finally, the game is genuinely heart-warming. Octodad’s daughter (don’t ask, we don’t know how) asking him ‘Do you ever get scared, Dad?’ and his wife’s despondent responses whenever Octodad cannot answer, beautifully puts across the strain this marriage must be under. Y’know, because he’s an octopus.

This game is one of the best three star games I’ve ever played. The comedy makes up for the unpolished gameplay, but not by much. Still, if you have three hours to kill and want a little bit of CGI slapstick, you could do worse than Octodad: Dadliest Catch.

Adam Smith, Games and Tech Editor 

 

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