Octodad: Dadliest Catch Review (PS4)
Big bad T-bone Tony gets all squid-gy with Octodad
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is an inspirational success story from Young Horses. Originally developed as a student based game, it was picked up and developed into a cross-platform indie title. Octodad is a comedy/slapstick-oriented adventure game, where you take on the role of an octopus disguised as a loving husband and dad. The aim of EVERY level is to bumble around a variety of environments completing a checklist of tasks whilst remaining undetected by your family and passers-by, lest they discover your true identity.
The game begins by thrusting you into the wedding of Mr & Mrs O.Pus (I totally made that up), acting as a sort of back-story and tutorial mission wrapped in one. And here we come to the first intriguing part of the game. As a boneless octopus, your movements in the game are fluid and free-flowing. To make Octodad walk, and mimic his lack of coordination, you control two of your limbs by holding R2 or L2 and pushing the analogue sticks in the desired direction. In sequence it mimics walking. This is a unique mechanic and really does help impart the feeling of confusion and coordination, but after about an hour it begins to grate. This mechanic is understandable, it’s what sets this game apart from the rest of its competitors. However, as your limbs are fluid and bendy, you can often find yourself tangled within the environment and it can take way too long to get from point A to B. The analogues alone move your limb to pick up almost every item in the environment, half of which are useless and serve no purpose other than to (occasionally) find a different tie for Octodad. Again this mechanic is original and fun but just as irritating as the movement. Having no way to adjust the sensitivity you find yourself picking up so many trivial items and twisting yourself into a variety of poses that would put a Russian gymnast to shame.
But wait! I DID say this game was a comedy slapstick and therefore these shenanigans are an intentional mechanic. Implemented to make you guffaw at the screen every time you get caught on the table leg and fall to the floor or grab your gut when Octodad gropes for the wedding ring in a random box of junk whilst the wife-to-be waits patiently at the altar. Yes, once or twice. Sadly I’m past the age where slipping on banana skin repeatedly for five minutes counts as comedy. The game comes across like it’s trying to be funny, and this is where it fails. The jokes in the game are so transparent, and delivered in such a monotone way that they are cringe worthy, not funny.
The aim of the game is to complete a series of given tasks, which you inevitably fumble and stumble through due to your elasticity. Some of these tasks were made into puzzles such as retrieving an item through a broken freezer by manipulating your limbs to fit through the various shelving units. During these tasks the game showed great potential and made the flexi-limb mechanic seem different and useful when mapped to something intuitive like a puzzle, or an actual challenge. Finally! The game’s original mechanics had a unique and ingenious purpose that hasn’t featured readily in other games. Sadly these were short-lived and afterwards you were sent back to rake through a bin of apples to find the “right” one again. The tasks were a nice idea to show off the mechanics properly as these had taken a lot of time to perfect and some of them were actually fun. However, the fact that they went from this intuitive puzzle element back to mundane tasks like mowing a lawn were a real turn off. Okay, so the game is trying to show everyday tasks from Octodad’s perspective, and how they’re not so easy as a cephalopod. But I really didn’t care, the game relies so heavily on the John Cleese esque comedy walk to sell Octodad that they forget to actually develop the character. Admittedly late into the game you find out his origin but even then that leaves more questions than answers. And yes, the game is tongue in cheek and perhaps I’m overthinking it but if you make me plod through a dozen menial tasks for EVERY level, at least be sure I give a shit about the character and his life first!
The game also employs a line of sight mechanic. If you make too many mistakes during these tasks then your true identity is revealed. At first I really took care, and done the tasks the way the way they were planned. The only problem with this is that, when you fail- nothing happens! Yep, the screen just fills purple and the level reloads, no big reveal, no quips or funny dialogue or anything. So basically, you really don’t want to get caught because having to use the stupid walk and grab mechanics to spend ages attempting one task is a pain in the arse.
So I have bashed this game around a bit over what seems like silly things. But the game sells itself as a fun filled slapstick adventure of fun! And it is not, not fun, or funny. The game is definitely an inspiration to all aspiring indie developers that if you have an idea and belief, then run with it, it is possible. The parts of the game that really shine are beautiful; using the limb mechanics within puzzles and that one level with the shark. Hell even the premise of the game is a good one, it’s just the way it’s delivered that is the let down. The whole game is based on the joke that you’re an octopus. Ha ha, Okay, I get the irony and I even chuckled the first few times I fell over and got tangled and struggled to get through the wedding chapel. But you know, after forty five minutes of the same task wrapped in a different skin, I really lost love for this nice-in-parts little game.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a good time filler, to put on whist you have a spare fifteen twenty minutes. But I wouldn’t recommend paying the full asking price for something thats gimmick wears off pretty fast and leaves you longing for “those good parts”.
2.5 flippy floppy tentacles out of 5Octodad: Dadliest Catch Review (PS4),