Before I get started, yes, I am indeed reviewing a game titled Octodad: Dadliest Catch. And yes, it is just as absurd and ridiculous as that pun-filled title suggests. While it’s far too short for its price tag, and the main gameplay gimmick backfires a bit near the end, Octodad is still an endlessly charming and enjoyable indie game that might just be worth your time. If you know what you’re getting into, that is.
If you didn’t pick up on the premise from the game’s name, Octodad: Dadliest Catch is the story of an octopus who has lived the last ten years of his life as a married man and father of two children. Don’t ask me how he’s pulled it off, or how he fathered two completely normal, very human kids, but it’s a life he has grown to love, and is willing to do almost anything to avoid having to give it up.
While it’s true that that the entire idea behind the game is silly, the game knows that, and takes advantage of its inherent absurdity and just rolls with it, often playing off of the fact that no one in their right mind would confuse Octodad for anything other than what he truly is. It creates some outrageous scenarios that are just as fun to watch as they are to actually play.
The humor at times feels like an homage to classic slapstick comedy of the past, as the simple act of moving across a a living room as Octodad quickly becomes a challenge to see how many pieces of furniture you can destroy. The games thrives off of this, and consistently throws you into rooms and hallways packed full of things just waiting for you to make a mess out of.
While there is a meter that gauges the suspicion of the people around you, that will result in a temporary game over if it fills up, I found that it took a conscious, deliberate effort to get even the slightest response from the people around me as I tried my hardest to destroy every organized space I found myself in. This means the game is hardly difficult, until the final level that is, but for a game like this, that’s hardly a bad thing.
Simple objectives such as making coffee, mowing the lawn, or making some hamburgers become hilariously destructive acts of nonsense that become a delightful challenge to complete simply because of the way Octodad moves around. It’s almost always entertaining to watch him wave his tentacles around like a maniac, and I spent about half of the game just laughing at my TV screen.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch has a lot of fun with its exaggerated physics engine, and much of the humor the game produces comes from watching things fly through the air as Octodad attempts to simply walk in a straight line inside of a grocery store. The graphics are also great, and their bright, cartoonish colors are a delight and only increases the game’s impeccable charm.
My main problem with the game comes from its gameplay, however, which can be its saving grace one moment, and an infuriating test of patience the next. You control each of Octodad’s legs individually, which means in order to move forward, you have to do this strange kind of cartwheel motion with his limbs that, while fun to watch, can actually get really tricky to pull off.
For the most part, the game understands this and allows the player freedom to make mistakes, go off course, and basically just make a mess of things. But as you continue on, and your objectives begin to increase in difficulty, a degree of precision is demanded of you that just isn’t possible with the way the controls are constructed.
I enjoyed many, if not the majority, of Octodad: Dadliest Catch‘s puzzles, but towards the game’s conclusion there’s such a sharp increase in difficulty that the game ends up becoming more frustrating than enjoyable. While I loved the simple yet heartfelt story, I couldn’t help but feel more annoyed with the game the more I played it. I’m sure this would change if I were to play it again, but I just don’t see myself doing that anytime soon.
There’s some real deep, meaningful themes existing right beneath the surface of this game as well, and it characterizes the way we all desperately try to fit in in a very poignant yet humorous way, and it never once took it too seriously. This is one of the finale’s saving graces, as the almost infuriating final objective ends on such a heartfelt and witty note that I still couldn’t help but smile as the credits rolled.
At only two-hours long, however, the game’s fifteen-dollar price tag seems pretty steep, and while I certainly enjoyed my time with Octodad: Dadliest Catch, I doubt I’ll come rushing back to it anytime soon. There is a co-op mode I’ll likely experiment with, but since it tasks two players with controlling Octodad at the same time, I can only imagine how much more difficult it would make the game’s trickier puzzles.
Still, I think this game is definitely worth checking out. I can guarantee that you’ve never played anything like it before, and its bright color palette and refreshingly sweet, clever story was a breath of fresh air. Even with its uneven difficulty and occasionally frustrating gameplay, Octodad: Dadliest Catch is the kind of game I will fondly look back on, and I definitely recommend you try it out; just wait for it to go on sale.