Indie Review: Octodad: Dadliest Catch
How hard is it for an Octopus to make a cup of coffee? Dadliest Catch answers this, and even more ridiculous, questions.
- Worth The Time?Although it's short, Octodad: Dadliest Catch rarely made me regret the time I spent with it, and more often than not had me grinning. It's a pity the final levels lose some of the splendour.
- Things LovedRidiculous running gag that keeps the entire narrative together. Hilarious animations and models really bring Octodad and his world to life. Great soundtrack and opening theme song. Simple challenges that put the complicated controls into focus. Normal tasks are made obscenely difficult by movement constraints. Hilarious to watch and play.
- Things HatedLater levels are far too difficult to be enjoyable. Gameplay shifts from simple tasks to over the top and unnecessary stealth objectives. The entire thing is over far too quickly.
- RecommendationComing in at $15, Octodad: Dadliest Catch doesn't offer much in terms of content. It does, however, offer a hilarious tale coupled with some great gameplay that will most certainly have you laughing and grinning most of the way through.
- Name: Octodad: Dadliest Catch
- Genre: Adventure
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: Co-Op
- Platforms: PC (Soon on PS4)
- Developer: Young Horses
- Publisher: Young Horses
- Price: $15
- Reviewed On: PC
Octodad is a pretty average family guy. He wakes up, has his morning coffee, gives his beautiful wife a kiss and heads off around the house doing all sorts of chores, like chopping some fire wood and mowing the lawn. He shops at a regular grocery for ordinary things. Chocolate milk for his son, an apple for his daughter and a frozen pizza for the whole family to enjoy later. There’s nothing at all odd about Octodad to the outside world, and it’s this very gag that keeps the entire narrative of this charming yet short indie title following. Because, if you haven’t figured it out by now, Octodad is an octopus. Spoilers, I know.
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A sequel to the IGF winning prototype, Octodad!, Dadliest Catch once again puts players in control of the eight legged family figure as he attempts to perform daily tasks with extreme difficulty. This amusing and imaginative gameplay take a lot of hints from games such as QWOP and, more recently, Surgeon Simulator, where even the simple act of movement is made obscenely difficult by unintuitive and awkward controls. Octodad can only have one appendage moved at any given time, with a choice between one arm and his two legs. Switching from arm to leg mode is probably the simplest mechanic in the entire game, with the simple act of picking up a carton of milk and shifting it over to the left a bit requiring more thought and finesse than you’d probably expect. Even walking around without tentacle slapping someone in the face is made overly complicated, although most of the time the results are extremely hilarious.
Octodad has its best moments when you’re tasked with performing simple, family chores. The second level has you running around your house chopping firewood, mowing the lawn, pulling out weeds and even cooking lunch for the rest of your family. While it’s hilarious to see an octopus in a suit fulfil his family duties, these tasks represent what it so great about Dadliest Catch. Although movement and general control is difficult, these tasks are relatively easy, which make the game enjoyable while never feeling frustrating. This is echoed in the level after, even though the stakes are raised a bit by the introduction of a meter that measures how suspicious your actions are. Simply going through the motions of a regular, Octodad day could have kept the entire game going for its entire runtime, but sadly the game seems to forget why it’s so fun during the latter half if it’s short, two hour duration.
When the daily chores stop, Octodad becomes more about silly little mini-games that precede some unnecessarily difficult stealth segments that end the level, should you be seen. It adds to the challenge, but when you’re combining really compact and narrow level design with a character that takes more thinking to just move than most game’s entire gameplay structure combined, you have a bit of a recipe for disaster. The game up until these points is a pleasant, mildly challenging, light-hearted title, but as soon as you’re on a ship ducking and hiding from sailors (who, granted, have some great little dialogue between each other) the game turns sour. Gone is the light and simple gameplay, replaced by something that had me screaming at the screen every time my new effort failed, since the entire thing couldn’t be beaten without some trial and error. This is somewhat mended by an expertly designed penultimate stealth level that actually feels the right amount of forgiving, but the support beam act right at the end is just ridiculous on so many level that it may very well leave a terrible last impression.
Coupled with that is the fact that Octodad: Dadliest Catch feels far too short. You’re only just starting to feel comfortable with your movements until you’re thrown into near impossible situations, which are then quickly followed by the end credits. You could easily finish Octodad in around two or three hours, and while it’s entertaining most of the time the entire thing doesn’t exactly justify a $15 asking price. There are small incentives to revisit levels, like hunting for hidden ties and beating some ridiculously fast developer times, but aside from that you’ll find it hard to repeat challenges that you’ve already figured out. The co-operative mode allows you and some friends to tackle the mayhem together, with each player individually controlling one of Octodad’s appendages, and is good for a few quick laughs but not much else.
Visually, Octodad: Dadliest Catch hits the mark. A colourful palette with some simplistic yet appropriate character models work in the game’s favour, and the way in which Octodad is animated during his movements adds to the comical nature of the entire thing. It’s truly hysterical, and one of the best things the entire title has going for it. On top of that, the soundtrack is spectacular, and I’m almost certain the catchy theme song will be stuck in my head for weeks to come. There’s also this weird sensation that I had after playing the game, which made me think about playing other games in the exact same way as Octodad. I’m not sure if that means the game drove me crazy in a sort space of time, but it seemed relevant somewhere.
Although there are notable flaws, I really enjoyed my time with Octodad: Dadliest Catch. The game has some undeniable charm at the beginning and ultimately delivers a subtle but powerful message throughout its narrative, teaching you to love someone for who they are and not what they are. In a sense, the same could be said for the game itself. I love the game for what it is, an enjoyable, fun and hilarious title that never failed to bring a smile to my face. It’s just a shame that it forgot what it was near the end and tried to change the great formula in favour of something more challenging. If something is working, why not keep it that way?