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Review: Octodad: Dadliest Catch

Young Horses Steam PS4 Octodad: Dadliest Catch

Developer: Young Horses
Publisher: Young Horses
Platform: PC (Steam)
Release Date: January 30, 2014
ESRB: Rating Pending (E10+ suggested)



It was 2010 when Octodad first entered my life. At the time, it was a freely downloadable game by some DePaul University students. The concept was simple: You were an octopus in a suit who had to tend to the mundane aspects of adulthood. The game was completely silly, but also a lot of fun. In 2011, developer Young Horses decided to revisit their invertebrate friend’s world and ran a Kickstarter for Octodad 2. Finally, in 2014, Octodad: Dadliest Catch has finally arrived! Was it worth the wait?

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That all depends on how much you adore the novelty of Octodad’s world. In Dadliest Catch, things begin much like they did in the original game. You’re just a dad with a human family who is seeking to tend to their needs. Oh, and they don’t know you’re an octopus so don’t do anything too weird. However, in this adventure you are able to leave the safety of home and experience the thrill of grocery shopping or going to an aquarium. The fun of the game is hard to convey because the real amusement comes via the controls.

Every octopus has eight arms (yes, not tentacles, which are what squids have) and Octodad is no different. The only change for him is that he is capable of bipedal locomotion. I say capable because most of your experience controlling him will make motion more akin to wildly flailing limbs. The difficulty of walking and manipulating objects is created by the control scheme, which requires separate buttons for moving his left or right “legs” and another for arm control. All limbs are free to move in the 3D environment, making it very easy to fumble around.

As you might expect, it’s hilarious to see Octodad sliding around while human onlookers stare. If you’ve ever played Surgeon Simulator 2013 or QWOP then you’ve probably already got an idea of how purposefully difficult controls make for funny gameplay. For most of Dadliest Catch, you can accomplish most goals by flinging arms around wildly in hopes of finishing missions. Some involve more finesse, but the difficulty is generous enough to allow for a lot of mistakes early on.

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Unfortunately, because of this, some players may get by without ever coming to grips with the controls. This is an issue because there are some sections that require one to be fairly good at maneuvering Octodad around. At these points, the game suddenly became tedious at best and infuriating at worst. Since one of these segments is right near the end of the game it is doubly annoying - it’s all that stands between you and finishing! Similarly, there are stealth segments included and they remove much of the fun. After all, most want to fling Octodad around rather than exercise caution.

Although these moments are a bother, at least they happen rarely. For the most part, as long as you can figure out the basic concepts of Octodad’s movements it won’t provide too much trouble. Part of the reason it’s easy to forgive Dadliest Catch is because the world is very colorful and humorous. Each member of the family has their own unique personality and offers many fun quips. Even the subtitles offer an extra layer of silliness as they vaguely translate what Octodad’s burbles might mean.

It seems that once you finally get into the groove of the game that it ends. The story completes its arc and all, but it serves to make you want more! According to the in-game timer, my first playthrough took a little over two hours. You can go back and play any stage again to collect hidden ties or simply try to complete it as fast as possible. Those who aren’t ‘into collectibles or testing themselves won’t see much added gameplay time via these additions, though. The silver lining is Dadliest Catch has Steam Workshop support which means the community may very well make some great new stages in the future.

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There’s also a local co-op mode which is bound to make or break friendships. You define which player will have control of the different parts of Octodad’s body and then must work together to get him moving anywhere. As the plain single player game is hard enough, this is quite the ridiculous (but neat) addition. In general, it’s probably best to just stick with a controller to play, although keyboard and mouse control works too.

Octodad: Dadliest Catch lives up to and surpasses the original game, but is not without its problems. Sometimes there is a level of control required that many players won’t have when they reach certain sections. Every once in a while, there is a mission prompt that is not as obvious as the rest are, which is odd. But still, Octodad is incredibly silly and offers a mostly entertaining few hours of play. If you’ve never played the first game then go grab the free download. Those who enjoy it will most certainly enjoy Octodad: Dadliest Catch too.

 

Pros:

+ Fleshed-out characters and backstory for Octodad and the human family he lives with
+ Wacky control scheme leads to hilarious moments
+ Cute, colorful visuals match the goofy tone

Cons:

- Instances where you must move Octodad precisely are tough
- Stealth segments aren’t fun
- It would be nice to see the developer bring more stages to extend the game


 

Overall Score: 7 (out of 10)
Good


Being a father is tough - especially when you’re an octopus trying to convince your human family you aren’t a creature of the ocean. Give it a shot if you want to see everyday, mundane life transformed into a ridiculous cartoon.


A download code was provided by the publisher for this review




2 Comments

Sounds much along the lines of what I've been hearing: funny and silly when it's not trying to be a typical video game; tedious and frustrating when it is.

 

I'm still very interested in getting my hands on it eventually, but I'll be waiting for a sale it would seem (was really close to picking it up at launch since for some reason I'm drawn to it).

I hear people found this game pretty fun at shows, and after the release I hear even if the stealth sequences are pretty bad most of the game is charming enough (and silly fun). But at the same time, I don't really care for these games with novel controls for very long (like I was amused by QWOP for like two minutes before I had my fill) so I can't decide if it would be for me. Still, I will be keeping my eye on the PS4 version...whenever I get a PS4.

 

 

 

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