A game about an octopus living among humans should be more ridiculous and entertaining than Octodad: Dadliest Catch.
In most games, physical prowess is a defining aspect of the main character. Mario climbs flagpoles in a elegant way, the Prince of Persia jumps over walls and lands on wooden beams as gracefully as he can, Kratos is a expert in combat, throwing the Blades of Chaos with violence and precision. But what if there was a game where the main character was woefully unprepared for the world around him? What if he couldn’t pull out the simplest of tasks due to his clumsiness? Such character exists and he’s called Octodad.
In Octodad: Dadliest Catch, you assume the role of an octopus walking among humans, but there’s a catch (pun not intended): with the exception of an angry chef who follows him around and threatens to reveal his secret identity, nobody knows that he’s an octopus in disguise. In fact, Octodad has managed to get married and he even has two human kids (don’t try to figure that out, believe me, I’ve tried.) But the most interesting aspect about the game is that playing as an octopus is reflected in both the story and controls.
In terms of controls, Octodad: Dadliest Catch shares some similarities with QWOP and Surgeon Simulator. So doing the simplest of things is remarkably daunting for both the main character and the player who’s trying to control him. Setting the table, preparing breakfast, cleaning the backyard, getting dressed, buying groceries and even walking are complex tasks with hilarious results. The main character is an outcast, a loser and a freak and that’s what makes this story so heartfelt and poignant. Can you imagine what if would living in a world that hasn’t been designed for you be like? I guess we all do, since asking those sort of questions is part of being human.
So this is one of those instances where the controls don’t respond precisely to your input, but that’s the point of the game. Of course, this doesn’t make controlling the character less frustrating. Doing something as simple as opening a cabinet can take a few minutes and as Octodad walks, he clumsily swings his limbs around, destroying everything in his path. But the more mayhem you cause, the more attention you draw, so the main objective is to complete missions destroying as few items as you can.
But while the clumsy controls are an essential part of the experience, they are also maddening. There were instances where my character got stuck in the environments and the only solution was restarting the mission from the last checkpoint. Other missions were just frustrating and I had to keep playing them over and over until I succeeded. When that happened, I didn’t feel a sense of gratification for completing a challenging mission. Instead, I felt relieved I didn’t have to play that mission in particular ever again. When you’re retrying the same mission for the umpteenth time, you wish you were playing something other than a flawed, frustrating and repetitive game.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a one trick pony, since you’re always doing the same things, but you can do something in a clumsy way a limited number of times before it gets boring. As a consequence, the game’s three-hour length feels long. But the poor controls isn’t the only problem with the game, the repetitive nature, frustrating missions, terrible camera that doesn’t know how to provide the best look of the action and other flawed elements make Octodad frustrating and disappointing.
It’s worth mentioning that the stealth missions are the worst part of the game. One particular mission, for instance, encourages you to escape from a boat undetected and if someone sees you (and they will,) you fail and you have to start from the beginning. To mitigate this, you can always switch to an easier difficulty level and while the game’s more lenient in easy mode, there are still frustrations and caveats to take into consideration.
Misery loves company or so they say. Apart from the single-player mode, you can play a local cooperative mode with a friend. Having a friend alongside contributes to the game’s sense of clumsiness and random destruction, but all the other problems the game has are still here, even if you’re playing with someone else.
In conclusion, Octodad: Dadliest Catch has a promising premise that was poorly executed. The game feels frustrating, repetitive, overly long and there’s nothing here to keep you entertained for long. A game about an octopus living among humans should have been more ridiculous and entertaining than this.