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Octodad: Dadliest Catch Review: It’s Fun To Flail

Posted on February 8, 2014 at 1:12 pm by Victor Chaves

octodad dadliest catch
There’s something about the way a careening cephalopod can always put a smile on my face. The happy accident of knocking over ten boxes of cereal while tumbling down a grocery store aisle, cheating the crane game by bending your body into the machine, and the oblivious nature of no one knowing what you really are makes for a giggly good time. Octodad: Dadliest Catch, by developer and publisher Young Horses, is a game about being a husband and father to a family of humans as an octopus. The game has a fantastic wit and plenty of silliness behind the premise, and the gameplay is purposely chaotic yet controllable, providing an overall satisfying experience.

octodad dadliest catch

Oh, hey! Nothing to see here…

From Eight Legs to All Thumbs

Controlling Octodad is as you’d expect—a body with no bones is going to flail around like a cat o’ nine tails. The basic gist on the Xbox 360 controller is to use the left and right stick to move your arms, and holding L or R will select the corresponding leg you want to around as well. It takes a little while to get the hang of basic moves like walking, which requires holding the left stick up and alternating between L and R. It’s difficult as all heck to wrap your mind around in the beginning, but by the second level the chaos begins to make sense as you refine your skills with more complicated actions. I can’t fully express how awesome it felt to figure out how to climb a ladder, which was an incredibly frustrating endeavor.

That’s the inherent issue with Octodad: Dadliest Catch, though. Although experimentation eventually leads to mastery of the controls, I hesitate to say that most people would enjoy this. The rising frustration when trying to understand how the game wants you to move daddy long-legs can really put off enjoyment of the game, and in turn wreck the more charming aspects of the title. When a moment turned ugly for me, I often had to remind myself that this was the point of the game; the controls walk a fine line between fun and frustrating, and the onus was on me to walk back into fun. That’s why I suggest that if your mind is not open to challenging yourself on the basic premise of learning how to master the character’s movement, then I don’t think you’ll find much satisfaction in having Octodad make coffee.

octodad dadliest catch

I am Octodad, destroyer of kitchens.

A Silly Concept In A Silly World

If you can deal with the fact that you’re going to be fighting the controls the whole time, there’s a wealth of fun in this game. The gameplay generally involves doing simple chores with some light platforming, and the twist of having to do it as an octopus with a penchant for knocking over everything makes for a good joke that lasts throughout the game. Just the simple act of crossing the living room will inevitably leave all your fine china broken on the floor, family pictures dashed to the ground, and kids covered head-to-toe in milk.

That joke is fine, but what makes me really laugh is the fact that nobody bats an eye. It’s an everyday occurrence for them, and you start to wonder how the fact that you’re an octopus never registers. The whole situation is rife with unasked questions. How did they have human kids? Why don’t they notice how he hates aquariums? How do they understand him when he says, “Blolurburbaloo?” What’s on his license? As long as you keep your tongue firmly in cheek, the story and humor will keep you locked in.

The game clocks in at a quick two or three hours since the story is fairly short and the levels aren’t very large. This may seem like a turn-off, but it’s a quality pair of hours. The game is padded by some collectibles that you can search for in the form of ties placed throughout the environment that require some serious mastery if you want to nab the really crazy ones. Aside from the story itself, the game is in freeplay mode, and a Steam Workshop viewer allows you to play custom levels others have made. It provides a great distraction, such as tumbling through the first level of Mario 64, and a Track & Field-inspired level makes hopping hurdles gloriously stupid. It’s a great place to stop by every now and then.

octodad dadliest catch

Sometimes being boneless pays off.

Final Thoughts

Octodad: Dadliest Catch has a crisp story, fun and charming characters, and catchy music. The control scheme is purposely difficult, which makes it hard to recommend since even if you might like playing the game, it can seriously detract from your overall enjoyment. A good rule of thumb would be to look for the original free Octodad student project and give that a shot as the controls are very similar. Personally, I really enjoyed my time, and I look forward to tracking all the dad ties.

Presentation: 8

Gameplay: 8

Replay: 9

Legacy Score: 8.3

Geek Legacy’s review scores are on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest possible score.

This review is based on the Steam download of Octodad: Dadliest Catch, provided by Young Horses.

Follow Victor on Twitter @fake_brasilian to see him realize that he not only smelt it, but he also dealt it.

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