What do you get when you combine a lovable cephalopod posing as a dad, a short yet charming story, and the humor that can only be had from a physics based game that has simple yet hard to master controls? The result happens to be a pleasant indie game in the form of Octodad: Dadliest Catch.
Octodad is your typical father of two living in a quaint suburban town. Except he’s an octopus posing as a human, and for some reason your family doesn’t realize that. Octodad doesn’t look or even talk like a human, and he communicates with his family through shrills and blurbs that somehow his family can understand. The game doesn’t give much context or explanation for the premise, and simply throws you straight into Octodad’s wedding day which serves as the games tutorial. None of this is detrimental to the experience however, and the wedding serves a great way to teach you the controls while also providing players with a good idea of what the rest of the experience will be like.
Octodad : Playstation 4, Xbox One [Reviewed], Wii U, PC,
Developer: Young Horses Inc
Publisher: Young Horses Inc
Release Date: 26th August 2015
Price: £11.99 [Disclosure: Game copy supplied by Developer]
The gameplay of Octodad is fairly simple. The left and right triggers are used to control Octodad’s legs, while you control the movement of each individual leg with the thumbsticks. Players are also able to grab items and move them around with one of your tentacles. Using these simple (yet sometimes confusing) controls, you navigate Octodad through several physics based levels that centre on a typical day for Octodad which include cooking some barbeque in the backyard, grocery shopping, and spending the afternoon at the aquarium.
There’s some humor to be had as you flail about using Octodad’s legs to traverse around the levels while getting them caught or stuck on random objects, but the humor quickly turned into frustration whenever I got stuck on something that I simply couldn’t get out of no matter how hard I swung my legs. Thankfully this didn’t happen often, but it was a bit annoying whenever one of Octodad’s legs got caught on something and I had to mash on the controls in every direction just to get it free again.
Given how awkward the controls were, it’s not a big surprise that the developers made the game rather easy. Most of the puzzles involve you finding objects such as keys in order to get to the next area, or performing simple tasks to complete an objective. There aren’t really any enemies aside from a few marine biologists and a certain chef that just doesn’t know the meaning of the word quit, so there isn’t much danger in the game itself. Despite that, Octodad adds enough creative things for you to do that it never felt stale or repetitive throughout the few hours it took for me to complete the story.
Much like the rest of the game, the presentation in Octodad is quite basic. Each level is bright and colourful, but lacks any real detail. Objects in your environment are broken up simply into objects that you can or can’t interact with. There are some nice melodies that play in the background throughout the game, and the cutscenes offer some of the funniest moments, but outside of the premise there isn’t really much that sets Octodad apart from other games like it.
Due to the games short length and simple ideas, Octodad feels little more than a novel idea which was thrown in with a few levels in order to make a game. There’s some fun to be had as you struggle to do even the most basic things such as walking or mowing the lawn, but Octodad: Dadliest catch still felt like it didn’t quite reach its full potential.