|Dev: Young Horses|
|Pub: Young Horses|
|Release: April 22, 2014|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Fantasy Violence|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
When a game has complicated and hard to understand controls, it’s usually a flaw. However, Octodad: Dadliest Catch for the PS4 has some of the worst controls of any game I have ever played… and that’s the entire point. In a way, Octodad manages to satire the very things we take for granted in gaming, the control scheme, using a unique light hearted brand of comedy that will have you laughing to the end. OF course, this still comes with more than its fair share of frustration and failure, considering the whole point of the game is to struggle with the controls, but you never quite get to the point of wanting to throw your controller through your TV screen. You just laugh off the roadblocks you encounter and go on your squishy way.
Here’s the premise: you are an octopus that has grown tired of his uneventful life in the sea. Jealous of the life that land dwellers live, you pull a Little Mermaid and climb out of the ocean to experience all the wonders that human life has to offer. Unfortunately, there is no magic sea witch to make you appear human, so instead you just cram yourself into a three piece suit, shoving your floppy tentacles into the sleeves, and just pretend as hard as you can, hoping that no one notices you are a cephalopod.
… and it works! Our protagonist finds a lovely human woman who falls head over heels for him. Adrift in an ocean of romance, he decides to marry this woman, and help her take care of her two kids, totally turning his back on the ocean. Now he has the life that every man dreams of. He has a happy family, a nice house, and a well-paying job. Unfortunately, he has to live with his squiddy shame every day. Every bend of a tentacle, every squirt of ink, every blurble that tries to mimic human speech risks outing him and taking away all that he loves, and it doesn’t help that a crazed sushi chef already knows his secret and is trying to out his true identity to the world. As our protagonist tries to stay hidden, he will work out issues with his family, form bonds of everlasting love, and learn important life lessons for man and fish alike. This… is the story of Octodad.
So now for the gameplay of Octodad. You see octopi move in a very different way than we do. They don’t have… like… bones. Their tentacles are all flippy floppy and hard to get control of, and that’s what the controls of the game are trying to emulate. To move one of Octodad’s arm tentacles, you basically have to control its exact position in 3D space. You use one stick to control its movement on the X and Y axis and another to control its movement on the Z axis. Moving his legs isn’t much easier. You need to individually unstick each tentacle from the ground, move it to where you want it to go, and then stick it to the ground again, creating a complicated pattern of controls just for walking.
This makes a lot of daily activities actually quite complicated, especially because Octodad has some sort of bizarre cephelapodal strength. It’s hard to brush your teeth without ripping the bathroom mirror off its hinges. It’s hard to open a door without busting through a wall like the Kool-Aid man. It’s hard to play catch with your kid without throwing the ball into the neighbor’s yard, breaking their fence when you try to get it, knocking down your tree, and possibly lighting something on fire. This is where a lot of the humor in the game comes from, horrible disasters that come about when you attempt to do mundane activities with wonky controls.
However, this is also where the frustration of the game comes from. You see, the whole point of the game is to keep up your manly masquerade. If you act in a particularly odd fashion while others are watching, you’ll raise suspicion. Raise enough suspicion and your cover is blown. Unfortunately, destroying the world around you while you simply try to pick something up tends to count as odd, which means that you actually don’t get to see the most humorous parts of the game whenever you are actually trying to win.
The tasks the game asks you to perform also tend to repeat themselves. Nearly every level of the game is a “pick up object X, bring it to location Y” quest, repeated over and over and over again. Sure, you’ll have to do it with different configurations of people watching and through different environments, but the basic gameplay of the game never really changes much.