The sequel to the indie cult classic Octodad, Octodad: Dadliest Catch, is perhaps one of the strangest, weirdest and the most frustratingly fun games you’re likely to play anytime soon.
With the original game first being launched in 2010 on PCs by a small team of developers, the cartoon story of an octopus living his day-to-day life with his human family – who are somehow completely oblivious to his aquatic heritage – quickly developed a considerable online following not for an intricate plot or stunning graphics, but rather for a control system which makes the simplest of tasks in the real world seem like the most challenging co-ordinated movements ever seen in a video game.
Whereas in most modern games you control your character’s movement through a limited selection of turning, jumping and crouching your way across a map, to control Octodad you need to control each individual limb through the four trigger button on the PS4 controller, along with the joysticks to decide where he is going to go.
Similarly, there’s certainly no quick-time events like in games like Call of Duty where you walk up to something a press a particular button at a pre-arranged time.
With the joysticks, Octodad’s trying to grab an item looks more like a person who’s had a few too many drinks beforehand as you try to line up the arm with an item you need to interact with.
Just picking up a bottle of milk can feel like an eternal struggle as you watch the arm flap wildly as you carefully try to guide it to the target. When you eventually pick it up, it’s then a case of trying to put it down without making a complete mess of it which is nigh on impossible.
Frustrating, yet fun
Perhaps its most well-known compatriot in frustration is a free browser-based game called QWOP, called-so because it uses the q, w, o and p keys on the keyboard to control a character as he runs down a track.
Dadliest Catch meanwhile opens with a scene from Octodad’s wedding to his bride-to-be Scarlet, but he appears to be having trouble getting ready in his changing room, along with the fact he’s terrified that his incredibly gullible friends, family and loved ones will realise that he’s so far from the ordinary as to be absurd.
Then your first objective pops up: find your trousers. Simple enough, right? As I stumbled my way across a chair and attempted to navigate past the dreaded pile of boxes, I eventually made it to the closet where I attempted to get Octodad to just open the door. You interact with items by hovering your arm over it and waiting for it to turn green before you latch on to it with your suction cups.
Obviously as the game progresses the challenges become more difficult, like trying to cut the grass with a lawnmower that you try to drag across strips of grass in an attempt which makes you question why he hasn’t sheared off his own limbs at this point.
Despite it being a game that’s designed to be as frustrating and difficult as possible, it’s incredibly hard not to find yourself laughing just at the ridiculous movements that the physics model does. Falling into a stack of cola bottles and attempting to get out of it is like watching an interactive version of Mr Bean, slapstick for the gaming generation.
Also add in the absurdist humour laced throughout a game which is clearly designed like it would be for children, but is perhaps much more aligned to an adult’s sense of humour.
As he’s an octopus, Octodad clearly can’t speak, so the developers at Young Horses have implemented a system where Octodad speaks through blubberings with the helpful addition of quite specific subtitles including: “a blub of forced casualness under duress.”
Could be longer
Yes you will be incredibly frustrated and yes the graphics are obviously not in the standard of what could be considered next-generation, but these small developer type of games are what Sony appear to be pushing more in the coming months and years.
My only criticism is that it’s quite short and while a saga-length Octodad game is unlikely to be of much appeal to the casual game, it just felt slightly lacking when you get to the finish.
So should you get this game? Well, that depends on your disposition. If you’re the type who is easily frustrated when you reach a gaming brick wall, stay well away from this as you’re likely to chuck your controller at the wall. If you’re someone who finds the need to get to the next level more important than anything at that very moment in time (ie Flappy Bird players), then this will definitely be worth it, or even just for the fun of seeing an Octopus flail his limbs like there’s no tomorrow.
The game is available to download on the PS4 Playstation Store or on Windows/Mac OS and Linux for €13.99.
(This review was based off the PS4 version of Octodad: Dadliest Catch)