The world’s most famous octopus (not Paul, sorry) returned in the middle of last year for a sequel to the 2010 freeware game Octodad. Now, Octodad: Dadliest Catch has swum over to the Xbox One console, thus bringing this odd adventure to a whole new set of gamers. How will this octopus’ tale fare with the outlandish idea it entails?
Considering the concept of an octopus living a deceptive life on land as a father of two seems pretty uneventful, thanks to the fun factor, it comes across rather well.
Octodad is just trying to get by in his mundane family life, doing the normal things a dad to Stacy and Tommy and husband to Scarlet would do; attempting to stay out of trouble and avoiding unnecessary attention. No one can tell he’s not an ordinary dad, although it’s quite blinking obvious, and he hopes to keep it that way; especially with the crazed Chef Fujimoto chomping at the bit to expose him to the world. The story itself, although fun, plays second fiddle to the rather unique gameplay.
Despite being a cartoony adventure game, there’s a substantial amount of stealth orientated play involved if you want to succeed in not being found out, without resorting to lowering the difficulty to Easy. Given the control scheme this is a tricky task; Octodad doesn’t move like a human nor do you control him like one, instead you can move one leg with each trigger and an analog stick. Without the trigger pressed, each analog stick works as a movement for his arm with one stick moving it up and down whilst the other moves it backwards and forwards. Confused? You should be. It takes a hell of a long while to get used to controlling Octodad and even now I still quite often turn into Bambi on ice.
Taking on a variety of ordinary dad-like duties, I totally expected to get bored when asked to mow the lawn or pick up the kids’ favourite cereal from the local store. However, when the body you control feels similar to that of a puppet on a string, just planning how to navigate the shopping aisles without arousing suspicion and how silly it all looks makes it all the more enjoyable. The shop can get a bit messy though, as do basically every other environment you travel through; I spared a thought for the clean-up crews as I was clambering around.
One of the best places Octodad ends up in whilst visiting the Aquatic Center is a jungle themed arcade room full of classic arcade games that we’ll have all probably seen or played in our lifetimes. Remember the Claw Machines to win the cuddly toys? Well now you can play that by guiding the claw or sneaking a tentacle in to grab a toy the unconventional way. There’s also air hockey, whack-an-eel and basketball to name just a few of the games in the room. I spent quite a while in here having a blast.
Apart from having to sneak past suspicious guards and scientists, there are a couple of boss battles with the angry Chef. Sadly these frustrated me to no end; it’s a bloody nightmare having to do anything hastily and with a mad man after you, there can be no mistakes. Sure you can restart, but moving at speed without lots of room only leads to multiple failures and the least enjoying parts of Octodad.
Once the story mode is over, which took me around two hours, you’re left with two options… you can either replay segments of the story to find the collectible ties or jump into the extra Shorts. Although there are only two short stories present, they are of a decent length and the one focussing on Octodad’s first date with Scarlet took me almost half an hour. I left the restaurant in a bit of a state by the end but multi-tasking as a waiter, a cleaner and being on a date took its toll on me as well as Octodad.
I cannot deny that the seemingly ordinary assignments given in Octodad: Dadliest Catch were far more entertaining thanks to the wacky motion of the Octodad character. Unfortunately the story was over just as I was getting into it but hey, at least I got to find out a back story for how this sneaky octopus and Scarlet first met. Add to this the hard to pickup control scheme and it’s a game that will divide opinions.
The fun and amusing parts get outmuscled by the annoyance of the boss levels and the problematic controls. You’ll either love it, hate it or if you’re like me, be stuck smack bang in the middle of the two.