Flail, flail, open the door, move on forward then flail some more. That simple rhetoric is representative of the conclusive cycle of events players will experience during their time playing the wonderfully named Octodad: The Dadliest Catch. They’re few games I’ve ever played that exuberantly present a concept that’s simultaneously so absurdly ridiculous, maddeningly fun and deliberately frustrating the way Octodad does. At it’s core Octodad is about piloting the most unwieldy and bizarre video game character ever conceived, an octopus disguised as a human, through a slew of typical everyday scenarios. If you’re not taking it too seriously Octodad’s intentionally difficult control scheme is smile inducing rather than infinitely annoying – regardless it’s hard not to enjoy it’s lighthearted surreal sense of humour.
Octodad is a secret octopus, no one must learn of his true identity, luckily he’s expertly infiltrated our human inhabitants ranks with his flawless three piece suit disguise – to residents of the game world he’s indistinguishable from a normal person. Conversely to anyone living in reality the fumbling eight legged sea creature attempting to flip burgers is hilariously clearly an octopus. The fact that the protagonist is married with children makes the whole situation even more unusual, as you inevitably find yourself questioning how his wife could possibly be unaware she’s done the deed with an octopus but, I digress. The surreal charm proliferates into every aspect of the game: visuals are bright and kooky, Octodad controls stupendously and the narrative is charmingly ridiculous. It all contributes to an experience that can’t help but raise a smile.
Our demo allowed us to get to grips naturally taking place at the opening of the games first chapter, our objective was clear, get dressed then make our way to and, attend Octodads wedding. This introductory sequence quickly got us introduced to the zany mechanics teaching us the fundamentals. Firstly we were told how to control arms, hastily we used the new found knowledge to skillessly fling a whole manner of objects on the dresser in front of us carelessly across the room at immense velocity – the slapstick was immediately enamouring. After picking up a few other basic skills the wedding tuxedo was on, we were then ordered to exit the dressing room – which was difficult. Each step was a battle unto itself, pressing R2 raised the right “leg” and L2 the left, using the analog stick to determine the length and speed of each step. Octodad clumsily proceeded to the door and slapped it with his tentacle multiple times before finally reaching the handle, pushing the door forward and falling through.
Quickly it was becoming evident that the difficulty in controlling the action was an integral mechanic, if I was to keep my well earned cover amongst society I’d need to slow down, think more logically and then progress, simply furiously slapping doors wouldn’t do. Continuing the journey to the altar Octodad hurriedly made his way down the churches long hallways in the most unelegant strut ever seen. Along the way he met his undoubtedly most dangerous adversary in the world of humans – the dreaded slapstick comedy icon, the banana peel. Even touching the slippery shell of the fruit caused the wobbly cephalopod to fumble onto his face, arousing unneeded suspicion from human cohorts. Other obstacles included stacks of wedding gifts and a ballroom full of neatly arranged chairs and tables – frankly a disaster area.
After trial and tribulation we’d made it to the chapel door, picking up his hat from the coat rack and placing it on his own head on the fourth attempt Octodad strode purposefully into the church. This was it, the most integral part of the day, with all eyes on him a suspicion meter popped onto the screen, along with line of sight indicators for attending NPCs. Now oafish actions would surely be detected with ease by the humans, who’d certainly call out poor Octodad as a good for nuthin’ lying octopus. With a deep breath to calm myself I strode forward, immediately knocking vase of flowers from it’s humble perching leading it to tumble gracefully to the floor where upon it shattered. No matter, that wasn’t too suspicious – apparently, making my way to the altar with no other disasters the demo was over.
My short time with the insane demo left me with an deep rooted grin plastered across my face. Navigating the colourful world of octodad was an infuriating hilarious joy. After just a ten minutes fumbling around a church as an octopus disguised as a human it became outstandingly apparent this isn’t an experience to be taken seriously. For all it’s controls are intentionally rage inducing it’s surreal sense of humour, silly slapstick and at times funny control scheme quirks means Octodad fulfils it’s primary promise of being genuinely funny. It won’t win awards for aesthetic beauty, nor will it be named the mechanically strongest game ever made but, it will leave you with a big dumb grin, and that’s what gamings about.
Remember to check out our other PlayStation 4 coverage.