There comes a time in an octopus’ life, where he just has to scramble out of the ocean, find himself a bride and settle down into suburban bliss. We can’t roam the depths of the ocean, like teenagers forever after all. There are certain rules that apply in this situation however. One; Obviously, never let your family find out you’re a creature from the deep blue, briny sea. Two; watch out for that crazy chef who wants to unmask – and potentially COOK- you.
These are the very real dangers faced by the titular character of Young Horses second Octodad game, Dadliest Catch, which released earlier this year on PC, Mac and Linux, and has finally come to consoles – exclusively on Sony’s PS4. Octodad is one of the most creative, unusual and fun titles released on any next-gen platform to date. It’s an example of just how much can still be done to craft original scenarios in gaming, as we move into this next generation.
At the outset of the game we join Octodad on his wedding day to the lovely Scarlet. Scarlet is a loveable sort, but may need to get her eyes checked.. Y’know considering that she’s about to marry an Octopus and all. Then again no one in Octodad’s vibrant and ridiculous world seems to notice that this mild mannered dude in a 3 piece suit is walking calamari. Except for science dudes. Then again, science dudes know everything.
Simple acts like getting into your tuxedo, shambling up the aisle and placing the ring on your future wife’s finger are all near impossible and simply hilarious to watch. Things get even funnier in the next area, set many years later, when you are doing mundane household tasks like making coffee, putting milk in your daughters sippy cup and grilling some burgers. These everyday odd jobs are so complex, given the games bizarre control scheme, that they’re sure to raise a chuckle – not only from the player but also anyone else fortunate enough to be watching.
So how do the controls work? Well, it’s easy… they don’t. Just kidding. They do work, they are just… as bizarre as the rest of this fun filled little oddity.
Holding the L or R triggers raises each of Octodads legs. Releasing the trigger suctions his tentacle onto the nearest available surface. You can move your arm vertically with the right stick and in all other directions with the left stick, while using the R1 button to grab objects. It’s a cumbersome way to get around, but then again… that’s kind of the whole point. You ARE an octopus pretending to be human after all.
The game excels when it presents the player with simple mundane tasks, as control and precision are not important. Where the game stumbles most is when it tries too hard to be a game. There are several annoying stealth sections, which have been drastically improved since their PC release and some really frustrating encounters with Chef Fujimoto, the main antagonist of the game. In some of these sections, it’s like the developers forgot that they had made such an unwieldy game with the finale being the worst culprit.
Still, it’s hard to stay mad at a game as enjoyable and silly as Octodad. The game does actually have an underlying message. It’s a study of the difficulties many introverts out there face, trying to “pose as human”, while feeling like a complete outsider. There are questions left unanswered when the credits roll, like… why has Scarlet not been arrested for charges of bestiality? Where EXACTLY did those two kids come from? Is this also the sequel to that really weird Japanese anime I saw one night late on cable TV?
Whatever questions remain the answers are irrelevant. The only question you need to be concerned with is “Should I buy Octodad?”. Well luckily, the answer is… Yes. It does have its moments where it takes itself a bit too seriously and loses sight of the overarching punchline present throughout the rest of the game. However, few games feel as truly fresh and creatively free as Octodad: Dadliest Catch – particularly in the console space.
It might only ring in at a few hours play time, but there is just so much replayability on offer, that for the measly price of $14.99 it’s an absolute steal. It’s a game you’ll want to play, time and time again, if only to cheer yourself up after a long day at the office. It’s pure escapism and it deserves your attention.
Now… Back to shambling about like a drunken Irish man in an early twentieth century play, while trying to pull the weeds out of the garden. After that, I might actually play some more Octodad…