Fitting in and maintaining a successful marriage are two difficult tasks in real life. Imagine having to do that as an octopus living in secret among the humans. Wait, what?
The concept of Octodad: Dadliest Catch is as simple as it is absurd; you’re an octopus that’s living among the humans to escape from a menacing chef, but you’ll need to perform mundane, everyday activities so no one catches on to your true identity. The problem here is that not only are you married to a human who has no idea you’re an octopus, but you have no skeletal structure, turning the easiest of tasks in to a constant struggle. The end result is a highlight reel of your comedic failures, but also a surprisingly sweet tale of love and fatherhood.
The game’s charm lies in its ridiculous control scheme, in which you control Octodad’s supposed arms and legs using both analog sticks in combination with the L2 and R2 buttons. If you’re familiar with the insanely difficult browser game QWOP, you’ll have a better understanding of what I’m talking about. It’s not nearly as difficult as QWOP, but simple activities like making coffee or unlocking a door generally turn in to a trashed kitchen or what resembles the aftermath of a tornado.
The controls will no doubt frustrate some, but the struggle is often hilarious enough that overcoming every challenge will reward you with the sweet taste of victory. During my time with the game, I somehow managed to go grocery shopping and take my children to the aquarium, but some of the tasks really tested my patience — climbing an obstacle course or scaling tiny beams across a ceiling, for instance. The frustrating parts weren’t controller-tossing, as it’s hard to get upset at a game where you’re failing at controlling an octopus mowing his lawn.
Simple premise aside, Octodad: Dadliest Catch never wastes the chance to make your life a living hell. Every environment is littered with objects to get caught on, stumble over and throw about the room using its physics-based control scheme. Each scenario gives you so much room for error, but acting suspicious does fill a meter at the bottom of your screen that will cause you to fail should you manage to fill it completely. You also have to worry about the marine biologists and your nemesis, the Chef, who can easily detect your presence.
It does feature a solid cast of memorable characters, especially the titular Octodad. His dialogue is all blurbs and blubs, but comedically subtitled to coincide with the conversation. The dialogue between Octodad and his wife and children is well written and does a great job of keeping the mood light, although it does hide the sad fact that maybe Octodad isn’t the best husband or father after all. The second half of the game does manage to pull at your feel glands though, and provides a fun a story that ends as abruptly as it began.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is fairly short, clocking in around 2 hours on my first playthrough. It does offer a decent amount of replay value with collectible ties to find in each level, fun achievements to earn and time trials in which you race against the best developer times in each chapter, but the end result is still a short romp. I found this to be a good thing, as I’d rather remember the game for the short-yet-sweet experience it provided than ever feel like it overstayed its welcome, although I still wish I had a little more to do in the end.
Overall I found Octodad: Dadliest Catch to be a worthy purchase and another solid indie title in the Playstation 4‘s lineup. It’s a short game with a great cast and a ridiculous concept that left a lasting impression on my girlfriend and I. It somehow caused my girlfriend to have a dream where her body reacted like Octodad’s, flailing arms and all, and she keeps calling me OctoBrad, which is something I can totally get behind. I loved the theme song as much as I loved the amount of chaos I accidentally caused during my playthrough, but not as much as I enjoyed the quirky notion of hiding among the humans as the lovable Octodad. Viva la cephalopod!
Recommended for fans of: QWOP, Surgeon Simulator, quirky niche titles, cephalopods.
Bradley Keene is an avid gamer & aspiring writer from Baltimore, MD that handles news, reviews and editing here at What’s Your Tag?. If he’s not writing or knee-deep in a video game, he’s usually watching low-budget horror films or following Orioles baseball. Follow him on Twitter, Twitch or contact him by e-mail. Love gaming? Join TEAM XBRO today!