Aside from having one of the best names in recent memory, Octodad: Dadliest Catch brings a very unique experience to console gamers with its release on the PS4. It’s as if the developers of an octopus sim and the makers of a dad sim had a chance meeting in an elevator. The what ifs would have started flying. What if an octopus was on dry land? What if the dad had a huge secret to hide from his family? And then the question that sealed the deal: What if the dad WAS the octopus? That’s not really how the creation of the game went down, but in my mind, I can’t imagine the crazy premise coming in any more sane ways.
The main focus point of Octodad is the controls. An octopus is a naturally wobbly creature, not intended for the task of standing as a standard issue dad would on dry land. Unfortunately for Octodad, he can’t let anyone know that he’s an octopus so he must overcome his lack of vertebrae to maintain the dadly ruse. The controls are extraordinarily hilarious and imprecise, and while frustrating, they do manage to accomplish the task of even making failures hilarious. Simple things such as shutting off my alarm clock result in half of the bedroom tossed about the place as I struggled to control each of Octodad’s limbs. I fared no better making coffee or mowing the lawn, and even managed to fry one of my own tentacles while I cooked burgers for lunch. But it was all hilarious no matter how often I felt like i was failing at doing things like a dad truly would.
The variety of control options available offer different experiences, with the ability to use a single DualShock 4, a Move controller, two Moves, or a Move with the navigation controller (or left side of your DS4, if you are like me and lack the motivation to purchase the actual navigation controller). The Move controls very differently than the standard controller and is worth trying out if you have one lying around. There is also a co-op mode, which will test patience and communication in relationships, but inevitably leads to hilarious results. You can set who controls which limb, meaning that player one could control left arm and right leg, while player two controlled right arm and left leg. My wife and I found it easiest to have one person controlling legs and the other doing the arm, however there is also an optional roulette mode that changes who is controlling what after each objective. I recommend playing it solo first to understand the control scheme before sitting down to test how coordinated you and those close to you truly are.
While the act of making breakfast and taking care of the yard were fun to try to attempt as an octopus, I felt that Octodad slipped up towards the end of the game when things became less about the hilarity of typically mundane tasks, and more about action and stealth, which made the normally riotous controls show their truly aggravating side. The novelty quickly wore off and I found myself fighting with the game as I attempted to perform mostly the same tasks of navigation and picking things up. The game is quite short too, with my first run clocking in at just under two hours, including times of trying to figure out what to do next.
While a speed run of Octodad could likely be accomplished in well under an hour, trophies do offer a little bit of replayability, requiring that you complete tasks in unconventional ways that you wouldn’t think of the first time through. There are also three ties in almost every level that can be found and collected, but after you get beyond the first few hours of playtime, the game feels like little more than a silly party gag made for brief bouts of entertainment. The latter half of the game had my limbs getting glitched into a myriad of odd things, and subsequent playthroughs continued to see this same problem. While sometimes funny, occasionally these glitches prevented me from moving forward and impeded my progress.
The graphics are very simple and nothing notable, but effectively do the job that they are trying to do in giving the game a cartoony and zany feel that fits in right along with Octodad’s flopping around with a lack of bones. Dialogue and references made throughout the game kept my constantly laughing, such as a reference to developer thatgamecompany on a carton of milk that said thatMILKcompany. It was worth it to often stop and listen to everything that characters were saying around me before completing objectives (and note that even with doing this constantly, I finished the game in under two hours).
I wanted to like Octodad more than I did. The concept and craziness of the idea intrigued me and the humor was great. If Octodad were a more robust adventure, I would have very few complaints. While it started out as a great experience, sadly, much like the floppy tentacles of Octodad, Dadliest Catch couldn’t hold itself up and began to flail wildly all over the place. The hilarity and novelty wear thin quickly and there was too often that my tentacles became glitched inside of random objects or the environment itself. Octodad is worth experiencing just for how different it is from most other games out there, not to mention the trying multi-limb mode that is the co-op, but don’t expect to be enthralled by it for longer than it takes to watch a couple of ocean life documentaries.
Review copy purchased by reviewer. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.