I’ve not played a game like Octodad in quite a while. Normally if I like a game, it spurs me on to finish every aspect, collect every trophy and get all the extras. Octodad sits in a weird area of games that I genuinely enjoyed, but I had to put the mouse down for fear of throwing it through the screen in front of me! Now, please don’t make the assumption that I had a bad time while playing, like I said before, it was a tricky relationship. I guess I can best describe Octodad as saving up for something. You hate seeing all that money in your bank that you can’t touch, but in the end the reward feels amazing.
Now one of the reasons this game is so much fun, is the simple context of the story. The game opens with you getting married and moves on to mowing the lawn, getting some food for the kids, going shopping. Oh and I of course forgot to mention that you are an Octopus … that’s right, you heard me correctly, and to be honest, if you can see the picture above the review and read the name that may not be as much of a surprise. So then, how can this not be fantastic, an Octopus that is living the life of a human! It’s simple random stuff that has become almost their own genre of nonsense in the last year or so. Of course, being an octopus does cause all sorts of issues when trying to live a normal life. You will knock things over, run a muck and try not to get noticed by any of the humans you are interacting with. You can tell if you are leaving it a little close as a meter will fill along the bottom of the screen. At first this will increase if you knock over objects or run into people, but later in the game this gets a little harder. At one point you take the family to the aquarium were you run into a marine biologist who will out you if you get too close. There is also a particularly tense point where you are required to plug a leaking tank, however, the room begins to fill with water and spectators will begin to wonder how you can breath underwater. All together, the story is truly something that you have to play and no octopus eating maniac chef will stop you from having a laugh (and they will try).
The most frustrating thing about Octodad is the control system. You are trying to manoeuvre what is effectively a rag doll so you can imagine it is not going to be the most responsive thing in the world. Depending on your set up, you can either use a track pad or a mouse to move the Dad, and both have challenges of their own. For this review I will mention the mouse as I had the most time with it an found it, if anything, to be slightly easier to use. To walk forward you will have to click each side to move the respective leg and can tab the space bar to swap to the arms. You can then pick things up, open doors etc, etc. This system of ‘one at a time’ is incredible frustrating at times, when trying to navigate maps that would be a piece of piss with normal controls, but are almost impossible here.
So upon mastering, or at least putting up with the controls, you are sent into the real world to perform, initially at least, a series of relatively straightforward tasks. The first sort of thing you will have to do is get dressed, get some coffee, mow the lawn, all things that sound pretty boring. But this of course is a video game about an Octopus, so it’s not quite that simple. The challenge comes, not in the tasks themselves but manoeuvring the player around them. A simple task of getting some frozen pizza turns into a maze, having to dodge obstacles inside a freezer system to get to the prize. The fact that it is such a seemingly normal situation just adds to the fun of it all and you have to take a step back at each one and say “how is climbing a ladder this hard?”.
Octodad is set for PS4 release this month and I for one am very excited about it. My hope would be that the controls are slightly easier on the console and actually allows me to get past a couple of levels which, I am ashamed to admit, I have gotten stuck on. I would be keen to also see how they can sharpen the graphics up, it doesn’t need it, but it would be nice to see nonetheless.
Overall, I had fun with Octodad. Sure, I felt like destroying my computer a few times and I now get nervous twitches whenever I see a rag doll, but it’s a game that is very hard not to like. With its quirky writing and silly humour you find yourself attached to the characters and there is a definite urge to see the game through. I am looking forward to the console release and hope this will mean a few more games in the series.
This review was based on a review copy of Octodad: Dadliest Catch, on the PC