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Octodad: Dadliest Catch / 12th of September 2015

Octodad is a very curious release, it reminds me somewhat of Namco’s quirky, yet utterly infectious Katamari series for both the good reasons and the bad, but there can simply be no denying that it’s a bizarre, original concept that certainly makes for an intriguing play, and that, perhaps most of all, is reason enough to try it. Whilst it certainly isn’t perfect by any means, quite frankly, who hasn’t wondered how an octopus could possibly disguise himself as a man and attempt to blend in to society? Well, herein lies the answer to that very puzzle, though it unquestionably raises the question of how he managed to impregnate his human wife in the first place, but that, we shall obviously leave for another time. Thankfully.

To set the scene, Octodad is an octopus cunningly disguising himself as a human, he is married and has two children, and so it is that he must hide his true identity from both them and the world at large, whilst also managing to play the roles of both attentive father and husband. Typically, the game sees the hapless cephalopod attempt to manoeuvre his awkward body around otherwise mundane situations, with typically varying levels of success due, primarily, to the game’s weakest points, which I’ll start with now.



For anyone that has played a Katamari game before, you’ll surely recall that in each and every release, the principle issues that the game possesses are found in its control scheme and uncooperative camera. And so it is with Octodad, though like Namco’s idiosyncratic item collector, there probably isn’t a better way to accomplish what the team were aiming for, yet that simply doesn’t stop the controlling of the titular characters obstinate limbs from becoming a rather frustrating affair as they constantly wrap themselves around objects within the level or become trapped as you attempt to climb a ladder. This is further worsened by the fact that there are no camera controls whatsoever, which – in a third person game – are truly essential. To give Young Horses their due though, the camera still manages to perform fairly adequately, it’s just that when the player is required to provide that little bit more finesse, it often feels as though it simply isn’t possible due to the limited view of the game world that they have.

In fairness, however, the control scheme – as I said earlier – is actually as good as it could have been, feeling almost intuitive as it gives control of individual limbs to the player, and they are taught through the best possible tutorial; Octodad’s wedding day. Here, it feels as though the facsimile humanoid required a little too much Dutch courage, as players drunkenly swan around the church, looking for his tuxedo, bow tie and eventually the wedding ring itself. This effectively serves as the prologue to the game’s story. Setting the scene perfectly before throwing player’s into the rigmarole of Octodad’s daily life.



Graphically speaking, Octodad: Dadliest Catch is relatively simplistic, but it’s heavily stylised, and that certainly lets the game away with it, in fact, there’s actually a hefty dose charm to found in the game’s aesthetics, bought to life with some hammy B-movie like voice acting that surely puts a smile on the face of everyone who’s had the pleasure of trying the game already. The animation is wonderfully whimsical too, so the bulk of the laughs that the game provides are likely to stem from its slapstick stylings which emerge with their heads held high from Monty Python’s Ministry of Silly Walks, as the invertebrate Octodad contorts his body this way and that in order to remain upright as he makes his way around. Banana peels line some areas too, but I think it’s needless to say what happens when you accidentally step on one of those.

Whilst each of the human characters speak as one would expect them to, Octodad communicates with a series of nonsensical outbursts that typically delight throughout, particularly at the start of the game when he attempts to resolve some biological concerns of his two children. Evidently then, the focus for Young Horses was to create a heart-warming and humorous experience, as opposed to a genuinely challenging one, which, to be perfectly honest, probably wouldn’t have worked out favourably anyway, so they definitely made the correct choice, but there can be no denying that the story mode is rather short as a result. However, each level presents new challenges that mix up the gameplay to no end, from preparing lunch for the kids or shopping for the family’s groceries to evading the clutches of both a hammerhead shark and a maniacal chef hell bent on ousting the poor protagonist as the invertebrate imposter that he is.



There is, unfortunately, little reason to return to Octodad: Deadliest Catch having already bested it, but developer, Young Horses, has seen fit to add in a range of collectible neck ties that can be picked up, though strangely some have to be found within the story mode rather than allowing players to return to replay the level on its own to do so. On top of this, there’s also a co-operative mode wherein two to four players each take control of one or more of the protagonist’s elongated, and rather pliant limbs, which is undoubtedly an unexpected, yet welcome treat.

Coming in at £11.99, Octodad: Dadliest Catch is something of a budget title that I can’t help but recommend; it’s funny and it’s unusual, so sadly, it probably won’t be enjoyed by all. Still though, at that price, I thoroughly recommend that you all dip your toe in the ocean and give it a shot, you never know, you may just enjoy it as much as I did.

 
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