The Nuclear Family
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is game that definitely catches your attention when you notice its silly looking main character, an octopus pretending to be a man. This is the main idea from Young Horses’s game: How would it be if an octopus decided to live between humans and what kind of silly moments could it cause thanks to its tentacles? This is exactly what they tested with the original Octodad demo and now, Octodad: Dadliest Catch, expands upon that idea.
As previously mentioned, the story of Octodad: Dadliest Catch is really simple but it works perfectly for what the game tries to do. You, the player, are an octopus disguised as a man and somehow also ended up getting married and also have two children. And your objective will be to do a good job as a dad and husband while also making sure no one notices that you’re really an octopus. This task won’t be so simple, though, specially when a certain chef appears who already knows about your secret and will try everything to catch you.
The wierd gameplay controls are something that you will definitely always remember about Octodad, but I mean weird controls in a nice and funny way. As you can expect, controlling an octopus is not easy. The whole game is like a physics toybox and Octodad can’t really balance on himself easily and well… its tentacles are controlled just like what they are: tentacles. When the game starts you’ll get a really short nice tutorial while you clear the first level, starting from learning how to move your “hand” tentacle. This is done by using both sticks on the joycon in combination. For your “legs”, you have to use ZL and ZR to move each of them combining them with your left joycon stick. Pressing and holding these buttons raise the respective tentacle so it’s your job to position them well to do a walking motion which can end up being as awkward looking as you want. As you may expect, the tentacles motion is all wiggly and unprecise which is the main challenge when playing the game.
While the game doesn’t use motion controls (which could be a fun experiment), the game does feature support for HD Rumble which works well but is nothing amazing. You’ll easily feel different kinds of vibrations depending on the actions you do in the game, some of which can be even helpful to your gameplay.
Something worth pointing out is that, due to the physics and the way the character moves, you’ll sometimes encounter issues where Octodad gets stuck into things and is hard to get him out of it. Sometimes you’ll also get random physics effect such as suddenly stretching your “hand” in a really long way, like if it was a rubber band accumulating force. Fortunately, these glitches aren’t that often. The most bothering thing you’ll encounter, specially at the start of the game, is getting used to the way Octodad controls to do precise motions.
While the game is classified as an adventure and action game, I would say it’s more of adventure with a bit of physics based puzzle-action. The game is divided into several levels through which the story of it is told. In each level, you’ll have several objectives to accomplish similar to how it’s presented in point and click adventure games. The big difference here is that you actually have to control your character and that it moves using ragdoll physics. Most of the times, your objectives will be presented one by one but sometimes you’ll find locations where you’ll have multiple tasks to finish in the order that you wish. After clearing each area’s objective, you simply move forward in the level’s story until you finish the whole level itself.
Besides the usual objectives that are in each level, the game also includes some extra tasks such as collecting secret ties to customize Octodad and an achievement system. Each level also records how much time you took to clear it and lists the developers’ times so that you can challenge yourself to beat them. After clearing each level in the normal story mode, you also get the chance to play them at any time you want through a Free Play mode.
The game has a nice cartoon art style which is consistent through the characters and scenery which appear through the whole game. This also matches the goofy style the game is trying to achieve. On the performance side, the game runs really smooth for the most part on both docked and portable mode. While it doesn’t run at 60 fps through the whole adventure, the dips aren’t that big and don’t distract much. There are only a few level sections where the game does struggle and the frame rate lowers considerably. This seems to be mostly on parts where there are a lot of visual effects on screen, such as in the final level.
The game’s audio is great, featuring music that perfectly matches the style of the game and each situation presented in each level. Right from the start, you’ll also notice that the game’s main theme can be quite catchy. The game also features voice acting which sounds all good. It never really feels out of place and makes the whole experience better. It’s specially funny everytime Octodad talks as it’s just gibberish blurbs that somehow are understood by the other people in the game. Sound effects are also done and used well and match the whole cartoon and silly setting.
While the whole game can be played in single-player, the game also features a local co-op mode which can make for really fun experiences with friends. This multiplayer mode can be played by 2 to 4 people and is not your usual multiplayer in which each player gets to control its own character. Instead, each player has to control a separate part of Octodad. If there are four players, each player gets to control only one part of Octodad. As you can imagine, coordination is a big part of co-op mode but it is also an assurance of some really fun and funny moments with friends.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for Octodad: Dadliest Catch was provided by Young Horses for this Octodad: Dadliest Catch review.