To describe Octodad: Dadliest Catch in just a few words, it would be just that – deliciously absurd. This game is just hilarious and fun. Why wouldn’t a game about an octopus pretending to be human be anything but fun? Octodad is just pure silly fun. It can be a bit tough at times, though – ridiculously tough. The easiest tasks can be laughably difficult. In a good way for most of the time.
Young Horses has been perfecting their Octodad formula for a while now with the original indie game being released back in 2010. It was highly praised and earned some attention for its inventiveness, enough to earn itself a sequel opportunity. Dadliest Catch was funded with Kickstarter and was one of the earliest games to be greenlit by Steam for publication. It released on PC and Mac earlier this year and has now made its PS4 debut. This review will be based on my experience with the game on the Playstation 4.
The main draw to this game is the gameplay. Its crazy fun and crazy hard because you control each of Octodad’s legs independently. You swing your jiggly tentacles around by pressing and releasing the respective triggers and alternating between them as you slink toward to the direction you aim the left thumbstick. It makes for some really funny moments as you come tearing through a room and knock over everything in sight, despite trying to be careful. I found myself walking backwards the whole time but Octodad didn't seem to mind.
While the triggers control each foot; the R1 button and both thumbsticks control your arm. You only use one arm because having access to both would be way too complicated. You only need one tentacle despite having eight. The right stick moves your arm around up, down, left, and right of your body, while the left stick controls the depth your tentacle can move into the world. The R1 button simply allows you to attach to highlighted objects.
Octodad shoots his hoops without even looking.
The developers make full use of these controls by giving you interesting and challenging objectives. They seem like simple and easy tasks but the fact you are a cephalopod in a suit makes everything hard. The first chapter serves as your tutorial as you prep Octodad for his wedding day. You’ll tumble around trying to find your tux, knocking over tables and chairs and slipping on banana peels. Slipping on banana peels is just delightful as it gives you a nice “wheeeooooppp” sound effect like something out of The Three Stooges.
Each of the levels you go through in the game ups the ante and fluctuates from being super simple to super frustrating. Not so frustrating as, say, Dark Souls. You can laugh a bit at yourself the first few times you fail to do something but after a while it gets really rage inducing. Pulling weeds in the garden is pretty straightforward but climbing a ladder is beyond hard. I could barely walk in a straight line. This game requires patience because you can and will get frustrated at some of the games objectives.
The way you can fail an objective is dependent on the level. Some levels want you to be careful around other people so you don’t “blow your cover” and be found out to be a bipedal octopus. Whenever you’re in someone’s line of sight, an eye pops up near your objective and their line of sight projects right on you. You can be “found out” by being a jerk to those around you, cutting in line or get spotted by a marine biologist. Other times you can fail a level by just simply falling off to your death.
Graphics & Sound
The graphics are a lot better than they were back in the original Octodad back in 2010. Everything is cleaned up and smooth. It looks as good as a game about an octopus father should look. The game looks like an early Pixar film. Like a dated The Incredibles. That’s the closest I can describe it.
There are a lot of sight gags that can be found if you’re looking out for them. Small jokes on the milk cartons and a little Minecraft cameo. (Notch himself is listed as a Kickstarter donor during the games credits.) There’s a lot of little nuggets of comedy to be found if you have a keen eye.
Yes. That's a pony.
The sound is very good in this game. Appropriate suction cup sound effects are heard when you latch onto something as well as splats when you bump into humans and start to blow your cover. The voice acting is good as well. While the humans speak clear English; Octodad speaks in “blurbs and gurgles.” You know exactly what Octodad is trying to say as the subtitles differentiate between gurgles. Octodad will “blurble concernedly” or he’ll “gurgle with a scared lump in his throat.” All a part of this game’s great sense of humor.
The small bits of dialogue are great too. Short little quips in the grocery store of customers wondering where employees are to a mascot having a mental breakdown over the status of his life. There are a lot of funny bits of dialogue to enjoy to the careful listener.
As far as sound goes – the theme song for Octodad: Dadliest Catch is the best thing I've ever heard. A great throw back to old sitcom theme songs. The kind that explain everything about the show so you don’t have to think or question what you’re watching.
The theme song was so great that Octodad should totally be an animated sitcom. It has all the makings of a great 70's or 80's sitcom. Crazy premise with all the normal tropes of having a family and being pursued by a crazy neighbor. I can totally see it being a regular YouTube channel show, or even a Netflix or Hulu original. Xbox One is getting original television programming -here’s your chance Sony. Make Octodad an animated series!
While the story of Octodad isn’t the main draw to the game as the controls are – the story is what moves Octodad around town to the different levels. You start as Octodad getting hitched and then instantly jump to him rolling out of bed like a pile of wet noodles as he desperately seeks out coffee.
A rush of nostalgia hit me as I walked around Octodad’s humble abode for the first time. I felt like I was playing Rugrats: Search for Reptar. An old PS1 game that makes me feel old for mentioning it. In that game, you play as the Rugrats as they run around simple environments like the living room and the grocery store while searching for Reptar. I haven’t seen these domestic environments in games for a long time. Octodad starts with simple environments as he is tasked with making coffee and giving his daughter a glass of milk. That task was my favorite because I completed it by pelting her in the head and knocking her down with the milk jug. She got her milk, Octodad did his task, and I laughed pretty hard.
Octodad playing Santa would make for some great Holiday DLC.
You start it off simple enough with small household chores, grocery shopping, and then things get dangerous as Octodad visits his own personal hell – the aquarium. The story arc is a pretty typical one. Introduction leads to conflict and Octodad overcomes it leading to a nice happy ending. A simple yet enjoyable ride. The only issue I had with the story was at one point you play through a flashback and I didn’t even realize it till I finished it. I can’t tell if that’s good or bad. Other than that, the story is solid and filled with humor.
There is enough replayability in Octodad: Dadliest Catch to keep interest. You can go back and try to beat the developer’s times for each level, if that’s something that interests you. The game does feature collectibles in the form of finding different ties for Octodad. An Octodad needs his ironic shark design tie. You can also go back and play through things differently. Maybe Trophy hunt but it’s not worth too much effort as all the Trophies are Bronze level.
Dadliest Catch does feature a co-op mode you can enable that allows you to allocate different controls of Octodad to others. You can control his left side while your friend gets his right. The co-op experience is completely customizable. Someone can be the legs while you control the arms. You can basically make Octodad your own personal Megazord and finally get the feeling how in the world those things worked.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is one of the reasons why I wanted a PS4. The footage I saw of it in E3 before the console’s release was just so absurd and crazy looking that I knew I had to own it when it came out. Well, the time finally came and I am pretty happy with it. It’s ridiculous, fun, but also ridiculously tough at times. In a good way. The game loses its wondrous charm once thing’s get serious. Funny moments of doing chores awkwardly are sorely missed as the game later makes you ascend a playhouse that isn’t octopus accessible. Mundane tasks become pretty hard to do with the control scheme but that’s the point of the game. If walking around on tentacles was easy, all the octopi would do it. I’m happy with the final product and would love to see future DLC of Octodad on other wacky adventures. Maybe follow him on a day at work as he files paperwork or does a coffee run. I can only imagine the absurdity. If nautical nonsense is something you wish, then pick up Dadliest Catch on your respective platform. For $15, you can have a whale of a time.
This review is based on Octodad: Dadliest Catch for the Playstation 4. The wallet got off easy with this one thanks to Playstation Plus making it a little cheaper. Make no mistake, the wallet still feels empty inside: emotionally and monetarily. Let me know how many TV quotes you discovered in the review or what you think of this game in the comments or on Twitter @whitechrishenry.