Octodad: Dadliest Catch (PC) Review

By Jordan Hurst 25.02.2015 1

Review for Octodad: Dadliest Catch on PC

"Quality over quantity" is a concept that more game developers need to aim for. It was kind of enforced on them in the days of limited cartridge space and graphical capability, but in recent years, obsession with value has made repetition and padding necessary for reaching the arbitrary target of 20+ hour runtimes. Contrast that with Octodad: Dadliest Catch, a two-to-three hour game containing more ideas and laughs than most games ten times its size. Not a single megabyte has been wasted in Dadliest Catch, with even the opening and ending credits proving to be entertaining.

The original Octodad, a 2010 freeware student project, was one of the most delightfully original premises in years. Dadliest Catch manages to be inviting for both newcomers and fans of the first game by imagining an astonishing variety of new uses for its predecessor's established mechanics. Both games star an unnamed octopus whom, for reasons left entirely to the player's imagination, has spent his life masquerading as a suburban father. Unorthodox mouse controls must be used to guide Octodad through everyday life without raising the suspicion of those around him. The challenge comes from a lack of bones and the fact that his tentacles must be manoeuvred individually. Think QWOP, except with grocery shopping instead of Olympic running.

Screenshot for Octodad: Dadliest Catch on PC

Comedy has never really stuck as an accepted game genre, possibly because it usually only applies to non-gameplay aspects like writing and visuals. Dadliest Catch has both of those thanks to its lovably goofy characters, but it also does the impossible by making the gameplay itself hilarious. Watching a tuxedo-garbed cephalopod flop and whirl around a room just trying to get through a door is comedic gold that everyone should experience. What's most impressive is how consistently funny it is. Octodad could have easily been a one-joke game, but it just keeps introducing new ways to make its protagonist's movement fresh and amusing, like squeezing between freezer shelves and sorting oversized power cords.

Dadliest Catch is that rare kind of game that brings together all of its elements for a single, focused purpose: to make the audience chuckle despite (or because of) the overwhelming stupidity of it all. Take its soundtrack, for example. When it's not an off-kilter jingle, it's a riotously dumb lyrical showcase in the vein of Katamari Damacy. The final boss theme is a symphonic epic featuring a chorus composed entirely of the pseudo-word "blub." This is a direct reference to another nonsensical but entertaining component of the game's humour: Octodad's "dialogue." He speaks entirely in "blubs," but manages to be perfectly understood by those around him, even when the subtitles only half-translate his speech into descriptions like, "a curt explanatory blub."

Screenshot for Octodad: Dadliest Catch on PC

The developers at Young Horses have stated that they would prefer new players to ignore the first title and start with Dadliest Catch, and it's easy to see why. The visuals have been cleaned up considerably, and the characters animate much more expressively now. It's probably for this reason that the rough, childlike 2D cut-scenes of the original have been replaced with in-engine cinematics. The physics code controlling Octodad's body has been polished as well - he's still ungodly hard to control, as he needs to be, but his limbs seem to be more stable than before, allowing for more exact movements and a wider variety of obstacles. On that subject, the first game's biggest problem was a lingering feeling that there was much more that could be done with these mechanics. Dadliest Catch fills in that gap and feels like a more complete game as a result.

Screenshot for Octodad: Dadliest Catch on PC

That said, the more content a game has, the more opportunities it has to mess something up, and some of Dadliest Catch's later challenges (particularly attempting to climb escalators moving in the opposite direction) are a bit too difficult. The game features three difficulty levels, which is greatly appreciated, but they only affect NPCs' suspicion levels, so when the challenge is just to do something, rather than to do it well, they don't help at all. Furthermore, the expanded narrative delves a little into the characters' backstories, but it hits an unsatisfying middle ground where there's enough information revealed to make the audience interested, but not enough to keep them fulfilled.

Neither of these things are deal-breakers, however. The overall story about Octodad's family trip to the aquarium (against his wishes, for obvious reasons) amid his wife's growing distrust is hilarious and surprisingly touching. The remaining additional content is put to very good use, as well. For each overly-difficult obstacle, there are ten inventive, ridiculous ones that strike a perfect balance between forgiving and finicky. Levels also contain collectible ties, many of which have clever hiding spots that exploit the movement controls even further. Rounding off the package is a ridiculous local co-operative mode where control of Octodad's limbs is divided between two-to-four players and Steam Workshop support to supplement the story mode with additional user-made levels.

Screenshot for Octodad: Dadliest Catch on PC

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Intentionally uncooperative controls are one of the most difficult ways to engage a player, but Young Horses has pulled it off twice in a row as of Octodad: Dadliest Catch. Aside from a handful of gameplay missteps (heh), the game is sublime slapstick that never stops being funny. The imaginative obstacles, bevy of new and entertaining game modes, and expanded story make it much more than just a polished version of Octodad. It's the kind of hidden gem that makes scrolling through the mire of Steam Greenlight totally worth it.

Developer

Young Horses

Publisher

Young Horses

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

This was actually one of the first games I got on PS4...but never actually tried it in the end Smilie I think I'll definitely go back to it after reading this glowing review!

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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