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Octodad: Dadliest Catch Review: That’s Our Cephalopod

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Title: Octodad: Dadliest Catch
Price: $14.99
System(s): PS4 (Also available on PC)
Release Date: April 22, 2014
Publisher (Developer): Young Horses (Young Horses)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone 10+” for Fantasy Violence

Back in 2010, a group of college students from DePaul University in Chicago created Octodad. It was an action game about an undercover octopus attempting to live a normal life with his happy family. The key was to get things done without the people he loved realizing he was really a mollusc. But they couldn’t just let Octodad languish. So the students formed Young Horses and took it to the next level, launching a successful Kickstarter to fund Octodad 2, then bringing Octodad: Dadliest Catch to the world in 2014. Now, he’s come to the PS4, and this impressive father’s tale can finally be told on the PS4.

octodad: dadliest catch

Octodad is the best dad.

Greetings, Octodad! You’re an octopus, but you’re also a family man. A “human” family man. You’ve really done it. You’ve won the heart of a (relatively) smart, attractive woman, and you’re preparing to walk down the aisle and marry her. But, no one else knows exactly what you are, and you’ve got to keep up that facade. If you can make it through the wedding without anyone catching on, you’ll find yourself facing what could be the worst day of your life. The one day when your wife of 10 years and your two kids might learn exactly who, and what, you are.

Now, given how short Octodad: Dadliest Catch is, I don’t want to go any further and spoil anything. So let me just say that the premise is beyond funny, with a hilarious script and perfect voice acting. The last line in the game made me laugh way harder than it should have, and it’s just a delightful affair.

octodad: dadliest catch

The first time an exercise in frustration is a good thing.

In most games, when you talk about the controls, you want precision. You want to know your character is going to react exactly the way you want, when you want him or her to. Octodad: Dadliest Catch doesn’t make that guarantee, and that’s exactly why someone is playing. It’s more of a QWOP kind of affair. You have some idea of what needs to be done and how to do it, but Octodad is an octopus. That’s part of the magic. Most of his challenges are routine, but it’s the fact that each limb must be controlled separately that makes it entertaining.

And, once you do figure out how to properly manuever Octodad, the control schemes feel absolutely brilliant. I didn’t have a PlayStation Move on hand for that option, but the DualShock 4 is perfect for sending Octodad about his day. Even better is if you take on the cooperate multiplayer challenge. Up to four people can play, each controlling a limb, and hijinks ensue. It’s like Twitch Plays Pokemon only in the same room and with people you know, which makes the experience both better and worse. (Especially since Twitch Plays Pokemon seemed to accomplish more with Pokemon Red than my friends and I in Octodad: Dadliest Catch.)

Unfortunately, a few times Octodad’s control scheme floundered. (Pun intended.) The haphazard controls work against you. Which is, admittedly, a gameplay feature and selling point, but still. Sometimes, it’s unintentionally troublesome For example, just past the halfway point, Octodad is reminiscing about his origins and thinks back to when he first met his wife, Scarlet. One challenge involves acquiring an outfit so he can wander around deck undetected. However, there’s also a table in the room and, for about five minutes, I found myself stuck under there because the boat pitched. I had looked away from the TV for a moment and, when I looked back, Octodad was trapped under the table, with limbs flailing through the tabletop as I attempted to escape. I basically had to wait for the boat to send me sliding again. Certain challenges in the aquarium also felt harder than they needed to be, and I wasn’t even undertaking the hardest difficulty level.

Which brings us to the replay value. Octodad: Dadliest Catch is short. I beat it in three hours, and that’s with having to replay the shark escape segment about 7 times before I got the timing right. There are 33 ties hidden throughout the game, some trophies that can’t be earned without performing special actions, and multiple difficulty levels, which offers some encouragement to step back into the cephalopod’s shoes on your own. Not to mention, the aforementioned, cooperative multiplayer. Still, it’s missing the added, replay value of the PC version’s level editor and Workshop levels. As entertaining as it is, I don’t see most people playing Octodad: Dadliest Catch more than once.

octodad: dadliest catch

Flailing doesn’t equal failing.

Octodad: Dadliest Catch is the epitome of charming. It’s a personality filled romp in the shoes of one of the smartest cephalopods you’ll ever meet, and is probably one of the most unique games on the PS4. Still, it is an incredibly short adventure and, for most people, one round of adventure with Octodad will be enough. It’s a well made and enjoyable game, and I’d encourage people to support Young Horses so we can eventually see more. Just know going in that you’re getting what will probably only be three hours of entertainment, prepared to savor every moment before it ends, and you’ll be fine.

Site [Octodad: Dadliest Catch]

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