Is Octodad king squid or a calamari travesty? Find out in our Octodad: Dadliest Catch review.
Published on Jan 30, 2014
“Run like a pony, Dad,”, a phrase now hard-wired into the brain like spatial awareness or the green cross code, never to be forgotten, seared like calamari in a deep fat fryer.
The phrase – squealed on repeat by Octodad's daughter Stacy and uttered during each subsequent failure of a particularly infuriating segment – is a microcosm of Dadliest Catch's inability to sometimes distinguish intentional quirky awkwardness with a profound frustration.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is at its most sprightly at its outset, when ordinary tasks are made near-impossible owed to his peculiar morphology.
Flailing Arms In Octodad
Octodad's main task and gimmick is that he's both octopus and father, only nobody else in this depiction of 50s Americana seems to have clocked on just yet.
Starting at his wedding to human and investigative journalist Scarlet, Octodad: Dadliest Catch thrives on taking the banality of modern life and posing the question, “what would a cephalopod do?”
Between the Mount Your Friends slap of octoflesh or the mesmerising jiggle of his many appendages, moving across a becomes room deceptive challenge. Mowing the grass, brewing a morning cuppa or suckering down the aisle at Octodad’s wedding all prove arduous.
This is especially true when coupled with the odd stray banana skin, thanks to independent limb control with the respective mouse buttons and outlandish tentacle physics.
Perhaps symptomatic of the little-known Irrlicht engine, Octodad's cartoonish demeanour stands in stark contrast to its vast grey environments – rooms scattered with faintly garish physics objects – that are plastered with a dull sheen and lack of imagination.
During these taut beginnings movement is a tantalising prospect, but over its two-and-a-bit hours play-time a pressure to 'innovate' complicates with unintuitive design and awkward, unchangeable camera placement.
The Problems With Octodad: Dadliest Catch
The simple joys are sidelined for awkward mini-games, nonsensical stealth and perfunctory boss encounters made near-impossible without a trusty controller.
Fixed cameras often result in Octodad floundering towards you, achieved through repeatedly dragging the mouse in same direction – the most unintuitive gesture imaginable.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is the kind of short, sweet game that doesn't warrant an expansive difficulty curve yet insists on chucking one in anyway.
The influence of the blockbuster formula strikes a fissure through Dadliest Catch, falling for traps of obligatory stealth, boss fights and an adventure that practically writes itself, jarring against Octodad's invention.
The attention gauge might by the foulest of creations: enemies simply gawp slack-jawed as the screen fills with what looks like Vimto, but is presumably ink. Fill it up and fail the game.
Appearances by Chef Fujimoto – nemesis and antagonist – signpost minutes of furious tedium. A singularity of caricature and problematic 1940s Tom and Jerry Japanese stereotype, speaking with caps-lock jammed down in 'comically' broken English.
A man despised as much as Octodad presumably hates sweet chilli sauce, not for his particularly dastardly deeds – although they would've been a welcome feature – but for being entirely redundant. He is a source of superfluous conflict that does nothing but bog this game down.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch Review
It isn't so much that the jokes never land – the closing gag is a peach of comic timing and self awareness – but that they barely attempt to be funny.
It is as if harbouring a wacky tone meant that further gags were unnecessary, typified by Octodad's babbling that may as well read '[PLACEHOLDER JOKE]' in the subtitles.
Octodad's family are largely unremarkable, muttering predictably and with little conviction, failing to evoke anything other than boredom.
At times Octodad: Dadliest Catch seems to nod towards a satire on intentionally backward controls or American domesticity, but never more than a cursory glance.
For a brief spell aboard the H.M.S How I Met Your Mother sailors band together spouting awful nautical puns and it's marvellous, but moments like this are at a high premium.
At times it's hard to tell if Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a joke without a punchline or simply the same joke stuck on repeat.
Bumbling around the living room is a bizarre ordeal that captivates during the opening and closing credits, but much of the in-between feels either flat or strained.
Version Tested: PC
5.5 / 10
6.0 / 10
6.5 / 10
5.0 / 10
TBA / 10
6.5 / 10
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a game fettered by artifice and a noticeable absence of failure animations suggestions a game unfinished. Send Octodad back to the kitchen, he's not quite done yet.