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Octodad: Dadliest Catch (PC) review

 
Octodad Dadliest Catch logo
Octodad Dadliest Catch logo
Octodad Dadliest Catch logo

 
At a Glance...
 

Formats: PC (reviewed), Mac, Linux, PS4
 
Genre:
 
Year:
 
Publisher:
 
Developer:
 
Final Score
8.0
8/ 10


User Rating
1 total rating

 

We liked?


  • Short and sweet - doesn't last long enough to outstay its welcome
  • Catchy theme song, and generally decent music to maintain atmosphere thoughout
  • Consistently entertaining, even when faced with total co-ordination failure
  • Silly, and knows it - and is funnier for it
  • Steam Workshop integration should extend its lifespan

Not so much?


  • Short may be sweet, but it is still also short
  • Later stealth sections are poorly considered, given the awkward controls and encouraged chaos of the earlier content
  • A couple of moments that seem less funny and more frustrating after several failures


Final Fiendish Findings?

Octodad: Dadliest Catch is silly. But that is ok, because it not only knows it but encourages it to be taken to extremes. The control system is designed to be awkward, but equally the game is very forgiving of your fumblings. You just need to ask yourself “will I find this funny?”.

0
Posted February 18, 2014 by

 
Full Fiendish Findings...
 
 

Role-play exercise: you are an octopus. But not just any old octopus, you are one passing himself off as a human being, fitting into a quiet – if unintentionally destructive – life while trying not to reveal your true nature to you very human wife, two also very-human children (yes, this poses a question best not asked), and local community. How do you do this? If your first answer was to trick people by simply wearing a suit, you’re probably ready to play Octodad: Dadliest Catch. I doubt this was anybody’s first answer.

Octodad is the kind of character that Tex Avery or Chuck Jones would have loved to play with 60 years ago. Life, as experienced in the game, is charmingly mundane for the most part – make some coffee, do various garden chores, go shopping – all to a happy background tune and backdrop that could have been lifted from a 50s sitcom.
Octodad screen
So far, so simple. Except our concealed cephalapod is a creature without any skeletal structure, and controls are deliberately awkward – holding the left or right mouse button will lift a “leg”, allowing mouse movement to try and position where you want the limb to go. Repeat on the other side, and see if you end up with something resembling walking…

Switching to the arms presents similarly challenging controls, now with the option to pick things up (and usually knocking several other things over at the same time).

The game’s controls are deliberately obtuse – Octodad doesn’t have any skeletal structure, and this will never be more obvious than when you need to coordinate his numerous limbs with each other for mundane tasks.

This makes each of them become a sketch, and many of them not only reach into the absurd themselves, but are then paid off with a gag. Of course, a joke can wear thin quickly, which is why the generous placement of checkpoints is a good idea – while there were some points of frustration (including one that involved a necessary breather before trying again for the nth time), generally you’ll keep moving forward. That, combined with the relatively short playing time (it took me just on 2h30m to finish) and the variety of comments that random characters can make means it doesn’t really have time to outstay its welcome.
Octodad screen
The resulting erratic behaviour of the disguised octopus is simply seen with bemusement by people in this world, accepting a disguise as convincing as Bugs Bunny in a dress. The fact that his speech is simply expressive burbling doesn’t prevent anyone from understanding him, or that his moustache is two shortened tentacles ever get noticed…

It’s silly, and unashamedly silly, all in the way that a cartoon short can be. That atmosphere is carried further by the setting, a suburban delight of happy homemakers and picket fences, where mowing the lawn and grocery shopping are highlights of a quiet day.

If you want to look for subtexts, you’ll probably find them – I suspect there is an essay in there on conformity, or of people seeing what they expect to see, or in the dumbing down of education in favour of populism… But these are not important, where you are encouraged to enjoy a badly coordinated octopus knocking over pretty much everything he encounters.

There is a change in approach later in the game though, with some (relatively forgiving) stealth sections, which was perhaps not the right direction to take. With the earlier sections, chaos and exploration were rewarded on route to a task; the later ones instead reward a small amount of control mastery to do exactly the right thing in the right place.
Octodad screen
Personally, seeing Octodad’s daily life was the real pleasure – having an insight into other daily tasks would be a delight. The game does allow a degree of free-play, with sections completed unlocked to be run again; and the Steam Workshop is also used prominently – player created levels ranging from variants on existing areas to platforming challenges are already available… as well as a recreation of a Mario 64 level and a reinterpretation of Shadow of the Colossus!

Octodad: Dadliest Catch is silly. But that is ok, because it not only knows it but encourages it to be taken to extremes. The control system is designed to be awkward, but equally the game is very forgiving of your fumblings (and Octodad’s resulting chaos), leaving you just needing to ask yourself one question – do you think you would find it funny? If you ever laughed at the chaos of a Golden Age cartoon, you probably will.


Peter

 
Peter can be described as an old, hairy gamer, a survivor of the console wars of the 1990s, and a part-time MMO addict. He has an especial fondness for retro gaming and observing the progressions in long running gaming series. When scandalously not caught gaming, he can also be found reading comics and fantasy fiction, or practising terrible photography.