A well-armed adventure

Octodad: Dadliest Catch review

The Spectrum

Game:Octodad: Dadliest Catch

Platform: Steam (PC, Mac, Linux), PS4 (TBA 2014)

Release Date: Jan. 30, 2013

Developer:Young Horses, Inc.

Publisher:Young Horses, Inc.


You are living the suburban, American dream: you have two kids, a wife and a medium-sized backyard where you mow your lawn, weed the garden and grill up burgers - except you're an octopus.

Octodad: Dadliest Catchis the sequel to Octodad, the 2011 Independent Games Festival Student Showcase winner and freeware game developed by a group of students at DePaul University. The students then went on to comprise the majority of Young Horses, Inc., whose sequel, Octodad: Dadliest Catch,successfully completed its Kickstarter campaign in August 2010. The game was added to Steam Greenlight - a program promoting the best indie games available through the popular games outlet, Steam - later that year in October.

Nobody knows that you're an octopus (obviously because you're wearing a suit and tie), except for the game's villain, an angry chef who wants to turn you into his next batch of calamari. Your tentacles are put into pairs and placed like human limbs, forcing you to stand like a normal human. Using the left stick to control the depth and position of your arms, the right stick to control the height of your arms and the left and right triggers to control the legs, respectively, Octodad awkwardly traverses the environment, clumsily knocking over everything in his path.

As Octodad, you attempt to go about your daily household duties before your wife, who is suspicious of you, decides that she wants to take the kids to the aquarium for a family outing. As a secret octopus, the aquarium is a sore subjectand the last place you want to go.

The game is very self-aware. When Octodad speaks, he sounds as if he's gargling mouthwash. The series of differently pitched blubs and glubs are then loosely translated into the on-screen subtitles that give you the gist of what Octodad is trying to say (but of course, his wife and family understand him perfectly).

Throughout the game, you have a series of objectives to complete that are mostly rudimentary, but prove to be difficult using the clunky control scheme, while maintaining your covert life as an octopus.

The stealth, among most of the game play, is poorly designed and difficult to execute in the physics-driven game. At one point, Octodad needs to maneuver past a series of guards while using a wheeled janitor's bin as cover. Alternately pressing the triggers to force Octodad into the object, which conceals you in attempt to pass the guards, sometimes forces the object to act sporadically or just not in the way you intended. Although rare, Octodad can also get stuck in certain areas in the environment, forcing you to be revealed or restart your game.

Because it's only a couple of hours long, it's easy to look past the game's poor mechanics and pay attention to how funny it is. Octodad: Dadliest Catch survives on its hilariously ironic writing and ridiculous game play. The physics are amusing, making food shopping an interesting activity when you're knocking over an entire shelf of milk that's spilling everywhere just because you need the chocolate milk in the back.

Very few games are able to be funny enough to warrant actual laughter, but Octodad: Dadliest Catch had me laughing several times.

The awkward voice-acting is charming, the writing is the perfect amount of corny and ironic, the concept is enjoyably over-the-top and the game play is just passable enough to make Octodad: Dadliest Catch a fun experience. The light-hearted adventure is a nice break from playing serious AAA titles, forming one of the most outrageous gaming experiences you'll have this year.

Never underestimate Octodad: "loving father, caring husband, secret octopus."

email: arts@ubspectrum.com