It’s refreshing to see developers take directions with their titles that are vastly different from the been there done that archetype of video games. Easily one of the coolest new “genres” to hit thanks to the beautiful Steam indie renaissance is the comedic game. Games that often forego deep narratives and polish in exchange for an experience that is meant to do nothing more than bring the laughter. One of the pioneers of this new craze is Octodad: Dadliest Catch, which, having finally released, is as goofy and lovable as everyone could have hoped.
From it’s cute name, to its silent (babbling aside) spindly protagonist, everything about Octodad is friendly and welcoming to any gamer looking for a good time. Octodad is an octopus who has been posing as a human for decades. Since then, he has gained a wife and kids, and does various day to day chores as expected of any paternal entity, such as mowing the lawn or grilling burgers. It’s all ridiculous, and the genius is in how the game takes the situation entirely seriously. The concept itself, and how it is laid out plain for the player, makes it funny before you even dip your hand into the ridiculous controls. The only rule is: don’t get found out.
When the controls get introduced to the player, all hell breaks loose. All of the game’s collections of tasks are mundane and simple, but performing them is not only hilarious, but mindbogglingly challenging. The control scheme makes a lot of sense, with the sticks controlling both the direction and height of the limb, and the shoulder buttons controlling Octodad‘s slippery cephalopod feet.
Level variation is refreshing, as players get to navigate the increasing difficulty day-to-day tasks such as grilling burgers or visiting the grocery store. Other more outlandish scenarios have the player navigating ships or avoiding sea predators. The game is varied enough to continue being fun.
Not all frustration in the game is particularly welcome, however. On rare occasion, Octodad finds himself suddenly conjoined to objects. Rarely is this a permanent issue, but sometimes navigating the controls to get him unstuck can be a real bother. The camera is fixed, which aggrivates the situation. Considering the control layout, it’s understandable why a camera rig isn’t feasible, but it hurts the game in ways that it doesn’t really deserve.
The game’s length poses a question of its inherent worth. It earns it through being comedically daring and fun, but with only 2 or 3 hours of content, it’s price tag seems a little steep. It’s rare when this is even an issue, but it feels like one here. Luckily the game illicits a desire to replay and re-experience, especially to share that experience with friends.
Beyond that, graphically the game shows its budget. Everything is a bit odd looking. It has a decent style about it, but it looks like a cartoony title from the early 00′s. The music is expertly done and hilarious. Many laughs can be had just enjoying the game’s main theme while watching Octodad flounder about.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is undeniably fun. While it has a premium indie price tag, it will have you laughing in ways few games can. From quirky, cute characters, to surprisingly well done control set-ups, this comedy title earns its place as one of the better indie releases this year. If Octodad and Goat Simulator are going to usher in a bizarre new genre of comedy focused non-games, and they are all this good, I’m all for it.