We all want something new. It becomes tiresome to see a concept be repeated over-and-over again, with just the names changing. On that basis alone, jumping into the body of an octopus posing as a father and husband to a loving family is a concept that will surely pique the interests of many. Sure, the gag doesn’t have the legs (or tentacles, I suppose) to last for the entirety of Dadliest Catch, and the controls can be annoying when attempting to do certain tasks – but there’s an evident charm about flailing around an aquarium and trying to look out for the needs of your loved ones.
As Octodad, you have one simple goal: to go about your life with as little hassle as possible, and ensure that your family is happy. It just so happens that your aforementioned family are all human beings and you’re an octopus. This situation is obviously rife for a host of over-the-top goofs, and Dadliest Catch delivers at the very beginning, but the laughs definitely give way for some minor frustration on occasion.
The control scheme is certainly interesting. As the player, you can only move one of Octodad’s limbs at a time. By holding a trigger, you activate one of his legs and then move it back and forth using the left analog stick, or raise and lower it using the right analog stick. Something as simple as walking from one end of a room to another brings with it a ridiculousness that can only be understood once seen. At first, I was uncontrollably chuckling at the sight of an octopus getting dressed up for his wedding, but the quip has limited staying power.
In one instance, Octodad, his wife and the kids are all in the supermarket doing a shop when you’re called upon to grab a pizza from the freezer. Opening the freezer door isn’t a problem, but trying to navigate your way passed the produce and snatch that last Italian pie proves to be an irritating exercise. When you’re called upon to be more precise with your movements, Octodad: Dadliest Catch’s humour gets in the way. The more flexible puzzles that don’t require a rigid approach avoid this issue and are all the better because of it.
On the surface, one would expect that Octodad is just a laugh-a-minute thrill ride of hilarity and even though it will certainly draw out a few giggles, the real story is all about love. Dadliest Catch is genuinely one of the most endearing titles you’ll play all year and voiced by a cast that have a certain warmth in their chords. The cartoon-like nature of what you see adds to the delight that fills your heart. Each character has these big, welcoming eyes –playing up the innocence of Octodad’s family – and the world is popping with colour.
The idea of an eight-tentacled being fathering two children is absurd, obviously. As is the oblivious nature of the cephalopod’s family to see what is right in front of them. But that’s where Octodad: Dadliest Catch excels. Completing meaningless tasks such as barbequing quarter pounders; mowing the lawn, or pouring out some milk for your daughter, are made better by the very relaxed appearance of the people around you.
Although the wonky controls lose their comedic element after a time, there is a co-op mode here too which allows friends to control separate appendages and take a shot at working together to get Octodad moving in an able manner. This will take about twenty-five seconds to descend into absolute chaos and definitely have everyone in the room chortling riotously. Having the option to play through the campaign with friends will be something that will appeal to a lot of you, I’m sure, because Dadliest Catch will be over for most within two hours.
VERDICT: To list the amount of failed comedy projects in video games history is a process that would take far too long. Timing is essential and snappy back-and-forth interaction is near impossible in this medium. Likewise, heart-warming stories are also neglected in favour of gritty, war-torn backdrops with chain-smoking, Caucasian protagonists.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a rare beast, then, because it made me laugh out loud the first moment that I ambled down the aisle to meet my doting bride-to-be. Whilst the joke didn’t have me splitting my sides with laughter for the entire duration, the shift to a more endearing tale of one sea-dwelling creature’s pursuit of a normal life was a welcome one. Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a lovely game, despite its issues.
GOOD. A game that scores 7/10 is worthy of note, but unworthy of fanfare. It does many things well, but only a few of them incredibly well and, despite a handful of good qualities, fresh ideas and solid mechanics, it fails to overwhelm.
Review code provided by publisher.