By Phil Schipper / July 13th, 2013
Publisher: DePaul Game Experience 2
Developer: DePaul Game Experience 2
Release Date: November 1st, 2010
Age Rating: N/A
Where can I even begin with a game like this one? My interest in it was piqued when I saw the trailer for its sequel, Octodad: Dadliest Catch, during E3. You play as an octopus disguised as an ordinary man. How could I resist the call of such a blatantly strange and silly concept? As I was about to find out, however, Octodad is even weirder than I ever imagined…
The game’s centerpiece is its gameplay, which tasks you first with learning to control an octopus’ body. When walking, you must hold the left or right mouse button in order to lift the corresponding “foot” off the floor, then move the mouse to position that tentacle before letting go to put it down. You’ll constantly be switching back and forth between this and “hands mode.” You have to direct one probing tentacle with the mouse, trying to get into the exact position in three dimensions before clicking to grab onto the nearest object. You can then move it around, switch to walk around with it… or just flail your tentacle to knock everything over.
Sound stupidly complicated? It is… and that’s what this game is all about. When you’re a sloshy octopus wiggling across the floor, even tasks that would otherwise be ridiculously simple, like mopping the floor or kicking a soccer ball, suddenly become a crazy exercise in getting things just right.
Your motivation is also pretty ordinary: it’s your anniversary with your wife, but you haven’t finished her present yet! You’ll have to obtain several objects to create a fake Octodad to distract her, then sneak into your secret lab to retrieve the gift. Meanwhile, your family remains completely oblivious to the fact that you’re an octopus, but it seems there’s an evil sushi chef who knows everything…
Getting the materials you need is a matter of performing everyday tasks to satisfy your family. Some are easy, like putting dishes in the sink. Others become a frantic rush, particularly one part where you must squish an oncoming group of spiders before they get to your daughter. Maintaining your facade is also important, as you have a Suspicion Meter that increases as you do particularly weird things in front of the family. Getting too much suspicion can lead to Game Over. The meter sometimes functions as health, as in the final act where Octodad goes into his secret lab, only to find that the evil sushi chef has hijacked the security system–forcing you through a gauntlet of pesky lasers.
Have I mentioned yet that this game is weird?
The dialogue is so corny and stupid that it’s almost as funny as the fact that your wife will accept throwing everything on the floor as “cleaning out” the refrigerator. Yes, there is not a single moment in which you can take anything seriously in this game. I’ve tried, and it’s impossible.
Graphically… it’s kind of all over the place. Yes, there are definitely some things that look nice, including the player model itself. But the cut scenes often look like they were drawn in MS Paint and filled in automatically with random textures. And speaking of textures, some objects in the game have very simple ones–or apparently none at all.
The sound and music are okay. Really, the only song in the game that I found catchy or memorable was the theme for Octodad’s secret lab. Every character has a voice, but they’re nothing too special. Probably the best sounds come from the octopus himself: the satisfying slurps when you pick something up, the happy blubbering tune he hums when you accomplish something. He’s just a lovable guy, I tell ya.
In case it hasn’t been clear yet, the entire point of Octodad’s very short adventure is to win you over with “what the heck” value. And… surprisingly enough, it sort of works. The whole game is just a giant pile of nonsense. If not for the character’s strange control style, none of the tasks in the game would be remotely fun. I dare say the only reason they are fun is because of the extremely silly feeling you get when you try to do things an octopus just isn’t good at. It’s sort of like those videos on YouTube that challenge you not to laugh at them.
Of course, Octodad is a free download for the PC, so it’s not like you’re making a real investment if you just want to try it out. While it’s certainly lacking in a few areas and is hardly a shining star of game development, it’s probably still worth a download… just to get your sea legs, and laugh at yourself a little bit. (And then you might as well finish it–it’s only an hour or two.)
DePaul Game Experienceoctodad