Octodad is a mental game. I’m not sure how else to describe it so succinctly. Playing it results in a rather puzzled facial expression. A mix between “what am I doing with my life?” and “This is genius.”
The game puts you in the shoes (or tentacles) of Octodad, an octopus secretly living a double life as a family man. He escaped the ocean and is now living in suburbia with a wife and two young kids. Let’s not go into detail about how they got the kids. The prologue (i.e. the tutorial) starts you off at your very own wedding. The bride is waiting at the altar and your first task is to make your way there to say your vows.
It’s a nice way to introduce the game and its wacky set of controls. You must control your limbs separately. The analogue sticks control your arm (or the tentacle that’s used like and arm!). The right analogue stick controls the height of the arm, as in up and down make it go up and down. The left analogue stick controls the depth so pushing up makes the arm go away from you, holding down makes in come closer to the camera. It’s confusing and utterly mental.
If that’s not weird enough, holding either the ZL or ZR buttons switches the control from the arm to the left or right leg, respectively. You can only walk in the game by moving each leg independently. It’s totally insane and totally hilarious, made all the more so by the over zealous physics.
After the prologue you awake in your home many years later. At the beginning your goal is just to fulfil everyday menial tasks like make coffee, mow the lawn and go shopping, all while trying to avoid giving it away that you’re a cephalopod in disguise. Using the physics and controls while doing adult chores is the best part of the game to be fair. It’s hilarious swinging the lawn mower around and around, or trying to swipe the last box of cereal from a lady’s shopping trolley, inadvertently smashing the whole cart into her.
The more chaos you cause, the more likely you are to be discovered for what you really are. You have to do everything as “normal” as possible. If you attract too much attention then it’s over for you.
I can’t say I ever felt in danger of being discovered. There is a meter at the bottom of the screen that shows you how suspicious people are of you. Even when I was going mental slipping on banana peels, accidentally grabbing fruit out of a bloke’s hand and then smashing it into his face, I still didn’t really get close to being discovered.
If it’s not clicked in your head already, Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a comedy game at heart. The premise, the controls and the physics all have a lot of promise for a hilarious experience.
However, let’s not beat around the bush. It’s an absolute pain in the arse to control, but that’s also what makes it’s so entertaining. There’s a fine line between having a laugh and feeling frustrated. Octodad does cross that line sometimes unfortunately. Well, I’d say it’s frustrating pretty much all of the time, but because it’s so weird and funny, you don’t really notice it. Only in moments when the joke falls flat or when you spend 10 minutes just trying to climb a ladder for the tenth time, or knock down things in a throwing game, do you notice it.
It’s not long before the menial tasks come to a sad end. Soon you’re whisked away to an aquarium (something Octodad is of course scared about) and the real plot begins. Up until now, your everyday tasks have been occasionally interrupted by a crazed chef who is hell bent on exposing you for what you are. It turns out he also works at the aquarium.
It’s at the aquarium that it becomes more like an actual “game” with stealth and adventure sections, and that’s sort of where the game loses it’s way a little. You can see why Young Horses went in this direction, as they needed to give the game some meaning. But personally I would have been more than happy to do episodes of random everyday occurrences: Getting forced into the hairdresser’s, going to the dentist, having Christmas dinner with the extended family, seeing Octodad do all of these and seeing how he can get through them without being exposed would have been great enough for me. I don’t think boss battles and stealth sections need to be part of it.
It’s actually a very short game. I finished the main story in less than two hours and I don’t think I was particularly rushing it. Although if you want to explore every little bit and find all the interactive sections outside the main story then you’d probably be able to stretch it out a bit longer.
There are also two extra episodes available. These play out similar to sections of the story mode, but are just random scenes not tied to the story. Honestly they are the silliest party of the game. Indeed, they are the epitome of Octodad. Short 15-minute scenes that are inconsequential to anything, but are funny in their own little bubble. This is what Octodad should have been.
If you want even more things to do, then there are plenty of internal achievements to get (usually by doing something silly or random) or you can go around and collect different ties for Octodad to wear. There a good few dozen of them to find and it’s actually quite fun scouting them out. You really need to be inquisitive to find all of them.
There’s also a rather bizarre if ingenious multiplayer mode where different players are able to control different limbs. It definitely gives a different experiences playing with other people, as it’s more of a focus on cooperation and teamwork. It’s also massive test on your patience. It’s still fun though and worth a shot if you have friends over.
Back when I reviewed the Wii U version of Octodad there was one massive issue. The performance. To put it bluntly, it was a shambles and should never have been released in the state it was. The frame rate was horrendous with frequent freezes and so on. Thankfully, Young Horses have released a solid version here with none of the issues that plagued the Wii U port so if you were worried, don’t be. As the second time me playing this game, it’s almost like a fresh new experience, like an awakening compared to the Wii U one.
Overall, they’re asking for a slightly high price for such a short, silly, sometimes frustrating game. But it’s fun. You can’t get away from that. It really has its moments. It’s probably worth it to you if you love slapstick humour and loopy gameplay mechanics, and this is a great, smooth port. It’s sad that the story goes in slightly wrong direction but you can still find enjoyment in it. I think it could be a good one for couples to play especially if you enjoyed playing Snipperclips together.
Game provided by Young Horses