There is currently a wonderful trend in the indie gaming market whereby seemingly every title released is excellently designed and bursting with character and wonderfully crafted mechanics leading to an abundance of high hitters with deservedly earned positive reviews. Octodad: Dadliest Catch thankfully follows suit and makes a huge splash in the indie pool of games arriving on the PS4.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a game about destruction, deception, and fatherhood. The player controls Octodad, a dapper octopus masquerading as a human, as he goes about his life. Octodad’s existence is a constant struggle, as he must master mundane tasks with his unwieldy boneless tentacles while simultaneously keeping his cephalopodan nature a secret from his human family.
The story of Octodad is remarkably charming, pleasing and downright hilarious to experience. The absurdity of the concept alone is interesting, but also worthy of a chuckle. Floundering amongst regular people as they go about their day, trying to hide your identity never ceases to be funny. Watching Octodad’s limbs flail wildly from taking a simple step, any of the, “translations,” given of his blubs when he talks to his wife and kids, the narrative itself that involves a trip to the grocery store to going to an aquarium (against his wishes) to a chef with a personal vendetta against him, who seems to be the only one aware of his fishy identity and tries to expose him and cook him into moderately priced sushi, it all amounts into a delightfully funny package with the slapstick and jokes never letting up and are nicely complimented by the heartwarming moments of love from your wife and kids.
It’s somewhat difficult to explain the joy this game exuberates. Much of the humour comes out in the gameplay where the controls are intentionally distinct and odd as you take control of Octodad’s legs and one of his arms. Initially this feel foreign, almost backwards, leading you to fumble around knocking into everything in site from just simply trying to walk across the room.
While you never quite perfect the controls and feel like a fish out of water throughout, it never feel as if the odds are stacked against you. The game wants you to mess up and destroy your surroundings, as it just adds to the physical humour of it all. Even coming to grips with Octodad’s oddball way of moving you’ll find yourself laughing after falling over for 100th time and hearing him blub and apologise to any passerby that end up in your line of fire.
In the beginning, you start off performing rather mundane tasks that you would do in everyday life. However the difficulty of said tasks is significantly amped up by the fact you’re an octopus, and gently pouring a cup of coffee or mowing the lawn suddenly become an olypmic sport. As you progress, new challenges present themselves, such as stealthily sneaking your way past eagle eyed biologists who know a fish when they see them, or carefully maneuvering your tentacles along a narrow pathway along a perilous edge, the game always ensures there’s something fun around the corner for you to experience no matter how simple or silly it may sound.
Presentation is also thankfully top notch, perfectly suiting the games style and comedic tone. It takes on a cartoony appearance with bright and vividly coloured areas and characters that always look friendly and kind with their large, oblivious eyes no matter who they are. Level design is excellent, areas are always lively and full of movement with a plethora of objects for you to interact with and cleverly designed puzzles and conundrums made into your given space for you to solve. The soundtrack is also beautifully complimentary of the atmosphere as it has a somewhat bubbly feel. Tunes are catchy and always fit in to each situation, even throwing in moments of dramatic tension when the need arises. It all breathes life and character in a game already crammed with personality, giving it that extra appeal of a lasting experience.
Overall, Octodad is easily one of my favourite gems on the PS4 and is certainly the most fun I’ve had with a game in a long time. It’s packed with so many genuinely clever and hilarious moments and is a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable ride from start to finish. While many have gripes with the relatively short run time of about 2-3 hours, (and it was a somewhat disappointing feeling knowing it’s over) I would argue that it is the perfect length. It remains as amusingly entertaining over it’s course without overstaying it’s welcome and ends with you wanting more, which for a title as absurd as this, is quite an achievement, not to mention the hidden ties scattered amongst each stage extending it’s play time. While many will find it’s price of €14 to be too steep an investment, I cannot recommend this more to anybody with even the slightest passing interest in it. It’s a positively unique experience everyone should enjoy. Who knew a fish could be so refreshing?