More and more we are seeing games that just wouldn’t have seen the light of day just a few short years ago. Games that would have had to been released at retail and sent out to die, or just not had publishers take the chance on them as they would be too much of a risk for them, thus possibly losing money.
Thank the Gods then, that over the past couple of years there has been a change in attitude, not just since the release of the PS4 and XBOX ONE, but since XBLA paved the way for smaller downloadable titles and showed there could be a market for them. Sony soon followed suit on PSN, but the Indie scene has just exploded in the past year of so and we are now getting games that were usually only available for PC users.
One such title is Octodad: Dadliest Catch, a game in which you control an Octopus who is trying to live a normal human life. Yes, that is the basic premise of this game, playing an Octopus disguised as a human, with a wife and kids, living in a nice suburban home. He has to make coffee, sort the garden, cook, clean and more.
It is easy to see why a game like this has needed a change in attitude from the decision makers at Sony to see the light of day on a console. It just isn’t an easy sell, not like the latest FPS, Sports game, Action or even JRPG. But here we have it and how thankful we should be that Octodad is gracing us with its presence, as it is a simply wonderful experience.
The game starts out with a very clever and funny tutorial level, with Octodad on his wedding day. It is this setup that allows you to get used to the basic controls, with combinations of buttons allowing for control of each individual limb. Look at it as something of a refined QWOP, as having to move Octodad around feel cumbersome and difficult initially, but soon you become very accustomed to the controls and…well still clumsily move around, knocking everything over as you go.
Levels are just a simple checklist of tasks for the most part. Asking you to go here, do this, give this item to this person, yet in its simplicity is also its challenge. What seem like at first fairly mundane and simple tasks become an exercise in concentration. You have to master the controls, otherwise you just won’t be able to push on. One such example is early in the game, where you need to retrieve a frozen pizza from a freezer in a supermarket. Yet the doors are frozen shut, with just the far one being open. Using the techniques learned early in the game, you make your way through the freezers to the pizza and viola! You have finished another task.
Some of the tasks are pure puzzle, take your time and work out what you need to do, before moving on. Yet being an octopus disguised as a human has its drawbacks. There are some people out to get you, for whatever reason. This creates the odd set-piece within each level, that require you to act a lot more quickly, thus ramping up the challenge, as you go from calm and methodical, to outright panic at times. This change of pace works really well and will keep you on your toes.
Everything about Octodad should make for a game you spend a few moments with, then move on. It is fairly repetitive in its approach, but for some reason you cannot put the controller down, you want to push on constantly and you will have a wonderful time with it.
A big part of this is due to the writing, whilst not big or clever, it is incredibly funny and just with the main content either. As you move around a level, you will hear many of the NPCs speaking and commenting and they are worth listening to, as you will find yourself giggling along as you hear the little quips throughout. But the main ‘story’ is really well put together and considering that this is a rather basic game, the conversations and setups are wonderfully done.
The visuals also play a part, as Octodad takes place in a fully realised 3D environment and has an art style that blurs the lines between what you think an Indie game should look like and what one can look like. It is big, bold and colourful and just has a ton of charm. The physics work really well and add to the lunacy of the game as a whole. As you trip over everyday items, knock every around you scatty and generally cause a mess. This could easily have been something that felt a bit half arsed, but again the quality shines through.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch isn’t a system seller, but if you already own a PS4, it is a game you must buy, because it is just so different it must be experienced. What could have felt like a tech demo, or an experiment, turns out to be so much more. A well rounded game, that will give you so much joy when playing.