It’s not easy being a secret octopus, with awkward movements, the need to fit in and the eternal quest to please your family, but it is often very amusing. It might feel a bit late to be bringing this game up, being one of the earliest and most humorous indie titles to grace the current generation, but having recently washed up on PS Vita, those that missed it the first time around can have a second chance.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch on the Vita works well, the controls are mapped intelligently, without crowbarring in any annoying touch screen controls. Holding down the left trigger gives the player control over the left leg, while the right works the same way. If you didn’t know anything about Octodad, most of the amusement from the game is trying the do some fairly trivial tasks, such as walking.
Like the now infamous Surgeon Simulator, Octodad follows along from the same genre. The magic of the game is in the mistakes, and unfortunately for the PS Vita, it’s all the more amusing with company. This one of the games that is just as entertaining to watch as it is to play, but with the Vita’s mobile screen, companionship isn’t exactly an option.
Giggling to yourself is all well and good, though sometimes it can feel a little bit hollow after a while. Not that Octodad isn’t funny all on its own, but playing it makes you want to wave the screen in someone else’s face, and explain the comical antics going on. That, and holding back a chuckle while playing on the bus is more than a little embarrassing.
And there are a lot of reasons to laugh too. As previously mentioned, the actions make up the core of the game, there’s also the sheer absurdity of it all. When characters speak to you, they’re often genuine, if not slightly overacted. There’s no real winks at the audience, or double entendre, the wording is quite literal, but just as funny when you remember they’re talking to an octopus. What’s great is the captions that come with Octodad’s response, from reshoring to frantic burbles and gargles. It’s a nice way of making the cut scenes match the tone of the rest of the game, and refreshing the player who might become overwhelmed by the constant simple puzzle solving.
Not that the puzzles are exactly taxing. In fact, the hardest part of completing each task is finding out exactly what you need to do. While nearly everything, from the challenges of shopping to teaching your child about kelp are very simple, understanding how is another matter. Weeding the garden might seem easy, until you can’t find any weeds. It’s a sort of strange duality, taxing you in a way you might expect from an old school adventure game, while offering the simplicity of a lego adventure. For the most part it’s a nice mix, though you can sometimes frustratingly stomp around looking around looking for whatever you need to do, though that always disarming given the way you flop about. It’s obviously not meant to be a challenge, especially given that the camera will sometimes led you to whatever objective is nearby. Its simple, family friendly fun.
Though there’s nothing simple about trying to control you family. The story of Octodad: Dadliest Catch, which in barest terms is little more than an excuse to visit numerous locations, is mainly about pleasing your family is delightful quirky, often aquatic termed ways. The antagonist is your neighbour, the chef. He and your wife form the main legs that hold up the story, with your wife directing the first act, and the chef, the second. There’s not much more to say on the matter really, with no intrigue or meaningful subtext, the plot line just waddles along.
Octodad is exactly what you should be expecting from a game called ‘Octodad: Dadilest Catch’. If you couldn’t guess from the title what you were getting into, then you need to some basic English lessons. It’s a simple game, one you can easily leave with a child, inner or not, while you do some grown up things (or pretend to – no judging).
Giggling at yourself might not always be the most fulfilling past time, but there’s something nice in the quiet, wholesome, singular adventure curled up with your favourite octopus. Don’t go exploring too deeply, or thinking too much about the game, Octodad isn’t built for that. It’s neither taxing nor long, but if you are looking for more, its hidden ties can add a little extra to the punch. For the most part it’s very simple, and very straight forward despite its quirky appearance. But on a rainy afternoon, or between busy days, take a trip to a small slice of suburbia and do whatever you can to fit in.
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