Welcome to At a Glance where first impressions mean everything! Ladies, gentlemen and undercover sea creatures, I present to you; Octodad Dadliest Catch.
Videos games are interesting medium. So many games attempt to tell impressive and epic tales of war, loss, oppression etc. but many have opted for the easy route by aping films. While I don’t like the argument that cutscenes are destroying true narrative in games, it is interesting to see that many games have not fully utilized the controls to set a tone or mood instead of just showing it to us. In recent years there has been a rise in the theory that controls can put the player into a certain mindset. These titles would include say, Papers Please, with its complicated and stressful focus on organization to make the player feel like they are indeed in a oppressive Soviet state, or one of the best examples of marrying game play and story; Brothers:A Tale of two sons, which really made you feel the dependency of the two brothers using the joysticks. Well today I am here to look at a game that follows in these games’ footsteps, by using the game-play to convey something more then a cutscene could. Today we are looking at the tale of an octopus who disguises himself as a human to fit in with everyday life. Yes I am being serious. No, you’re the insane one here.
Octodad:Dadliest Catch follows the tale of a male Octopus who falls in love with a woman named Crystal. He disguises himself in order to fit in with society and the two soon fall deeply in love. They marry, have children(I don’t want to know either) and live the perfect suburban life, complete with white picket fences. Octodad spends his days covering the fact he is actually an 8 legged fish by being a wonderful father and a loving husband, all the while being chased by a crazed chef who wants to serve him as lean cuisine. Yeah the plot does sound a little Saturday-morning-cartoon but it does feel very genuine at times. From the just slightly insane wife to the adorable daughter interested in “wizard princesses”,the characters are all very charming and the soft home setting adds to the feeling of a truly perfect yet flawed family that supports Octodad no matter what. We don’t see a story about a family that much in video games. It’s nice to see a quirky, funny and charming story about family.
Octodad may ring in a lot of peoples’ ears, as the title originally found it’s feet with a college project by a group of game developers that put the game up for free on their website. The money making machine known as YouTube caught a hold of this free version and began to produce videos on the game. The thing that caught peoples’ attention wasn’t the characters or the setting, it was the game-play. The game-play of Octodad is where a lot of the humor comes from as you control each of his limbs. No, really. Due to this unusual game play style,the game looks very silly. Limbs fly everywhere with a rag doll physics engine, as trying to do anything becomes much more difficult. In a way the title is a pseudo stealth game as you are pretending to be human. You have a gauge that fills up the more suspicious you are being (falling over, throwing things). This becomes even more difficult when you are around marine biologists,who can spot an octopus a mile away. This blend of wacky over the top physics and stealth works together to bring a real sense of stress to the game,the kind of stress a parent goes through every day. The most menial tasks like mowing the lawn or getting milk are increased in difficulty for Octodad and the controls mirror this due to the purposely unique game-play system and stealth mechanics. The game uses its game play to put you in the mindset of a parent and makes the narrative work even better as everything in Octodad’s life is stressful; his kids need attention, his wife is skeptical if he is a human or not and an insane chief is after him. The controls just add to all this. Also they are funny as hell.
Octodad isn’t exactly the most visually impressive game, but that’s not saying its visuals don’t have charm by any means. Octodad himself is adorable,moving in ridiculous ways all around the screen. The art style is basic ,but fits the Americana style the game is going for. From the 1950’s style themed house to the picket fences ,everything fits in with the perfect household style. The game is also chock full of references. From films to Youtuber’s(my personal favorite being a snack called The Total Biscuit). All the character designs look good, Octodad especially, as I can just imagine the coding that went into making his legs work. The score for the game is also very nice, adding a fun upbeat feeling at all times. The soundtrack works perfectly to add to the silly tone, almost giving the feeling of a Pixar film at times. The stand out song definitely being the main theme.
Octodad really is a breath of fresh air in terms of setting, characters, plot and especially controls. While its silly over the top nature isn’t for everyone, if you’re looking for a delightful little indie game that deals with family, normality and undercover sea creatures, then Octodad is for you…well really it’s the only game for you.
Octodad:Dadliest Catch is out right now on PC and will be coming to PS4 later this year.
You can buy the on the official website: http://www.octodadgame.com/
Or on Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/224480/