During a time in which AAA games are often criticised for their lack of creativity and diversity, it’s always exciting to see a fresh, independent game champion new concepts. 2014’s Octodad: Deadliest Catch, successor to Octodad, a University project created by the now-Young Horses developers, stands as tall as them all when it comes to new – and absurd – ideas. Now, three years after its initial release, it feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch.
Octodad: Deadliest Catch is truly bizarre. Players take control of an Octopus, but no ordinary Octopus. This mollusc is a family man living the everyday American Dream: a wife, kids, and a beautiful suburban home. The trouble is, no one knows his big secret, and so he spends all his efforts making out as if he’s human like the rest of them. Activities from marrying his wife to putting on clothes have to be performed as carefully and normally as possible. Otherwise, your family might realise who – or what – you really are. You’re in constant threat of being outed as an Octopus, so you need to do everything in your power to keep your alter ego in check.
Though the story itself is hilarious, it’s only half the fun. The game’s physics and controls are all over the place, exactly how you’d imagine them to be for a title in which you play as an 8 tentacled animal. One analog stick controls the upwards and downwards movement of one tentacle, whilst the other is directional. The L trigger moves your left leg forward whilst the R the right leg, much in the same way of those excruciatingly frustrating athletics games in which you can only ever make it past two steps. The result is often as hilarious as it is catastrophic, as you’ll be fighting the controller to get Octodad to do what you actually want him to. Be prepared to laugh and cry at the same time.
All of this could be a little bit too frustrating and annoying if it weren’t for the characters. The animations, their personalities, and dialogue are all charming and light hearted enough that you never actually get angry at the game. As much as you may want to throw your controller when Octodad slides across the room, crashing everything in sight, he’s a lovable character, doing his best to just be your average husband and Dad. It’s tongue in cheek more than anything, and that cheekiness is what helps off-set the frustration.
This goofiness won’t win over everyone, though. That’s exactly what Octodad tries to achieve: humour in the face of absurdity. There’s nothing serious about it, and that’s perhaps one weakness. In being so wacky it loses difficulty, so as much as the controls may anger and frustrate, they’ll never be so difficult as to force you to learn over and over. This essentially makes the game an entertaining walk-along, but one that’s well worth the trip nevertheless.
There are certain additions to the Switch version, such as updated co-op (although the PS4 version first introduced this) and extra achievements; however, these don’t make the game worth purchasing again. What may make you want to consider re-buying on Nintendo’s system is the ability to play Octodad: Deadliest Catch on the go. It’s a joy to be able to take the console out of its docked position and utilize its portable capabilities. It feels as though this was what such light-hearted games were made for: the ability to play anywhere, anytime. It gives Octodad a new lease of life, and makes it feel as fresh as ever.
Though Octodad: Deadliest Catch isn’t particularly challenging for consoles, the Switch managed to hold its own. I haven’t noticed any drops in frame rate during my time of playing, and this remains true when played handheld also. When played away from the TV the graphics are retained as well, keeping the sharp, charming cartoon effect of the original.
Octodad: Deadliest Catch was a genius, absurd, and completely original idea when it first came out, and is still a genius and absurd game today on the Switch. It’s testament to Nintendo that the company gives games such as Octodad a new lease of life, and to Young Horses for keeping it alive. Exactly where the game can go from here is unclear – it’s now had multiple reinventions that have only added something slightly different. Yet, itt feels as though it’s found its place now, on Nintendo’s hybrid console, and it would do well to finish here. It gives those who missed out on its other iterations the chance one final chance to play one of the most creative games of the last 10 years.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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