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GAME REVIEW: Octodad: Dadliest Catch

Not too long ago, I reviewed the free game Octodad, a game developed at DePaul University for the 2011 Independent Games Festival, which is about an octopus pretending to be a human trying to keep up his disguise to his family and everyone else, and trying to avoid the murderous pursuit of Chef Fujimoto, the only one to see through the disguise.

Octodad: Dadliest Catch is the sequel to that game, developed by Young Horses, which is staffed by some of the developers of the original.  The game is several times longer, has much nicer graphics, and covers much of the story of Octodad and his family that wasn’t covered by the original–starting off with a flashback to Octodad and Scarlet’s wedding day.

Everything that made the original awesome is still present; most particularly the intentionally awkward control scheme.  When you’re in walking mode, holding the left mouse button and moving the mouse will move one foot and the same with the other button for the other foot.  Pressing spacebar switches to arm mode, where moving the mouse moves your arm in the horizontal plane and holding the right button while moving the mouse moves it in the vertical plane, with the left mouse button grabbing or releasing the nearest object.  Add to that the added awkwardness that your tentacles can get wrapped around things and get stuck, and you have an often frustrating often funny slapstick adventure as Octodad tries very very hard to just act normal and do the things that any human would be able to do with little effort.

This time around, he does a few chores and errands before Scarlet brings the family to the aquarium, despite Octodad’s long-professed hatred for aquariums.  Octodad goes along with it against his greatest fears and has greater challenges than ever by the marine biologists who, as the aquarium posters claim, “know a fish when they see one” and can see right through Octodad’s disguise.

Chef Fujimoto is a recurring enemy through the game, ambushing Octodad at every opportunity. These levels up the stakes significantly, breaking up the more casually paced levels with deadly stakes.

As with the previous game, one of the things I like best about the game is that it speaks on some level to most everyone.  I think that everyone feels from time to time like they are an impostor in their own life and is trying so very hard to just do what everyone else expects from them.  As far as I know, I’m not secretly an octopus in a suit, but I totally related to his situation.  While this game had some mortal danger, it also brought out some more of Octodad’s fear of being rejected for who and what he really is, especially his wife Scarlet.  As with anyone, he only wants to be accepted by the people he cares about, but he can’t know whether she would accept him or not without taking that risk.

Visuals
Very cute look.  Watching Octodad awkwardly try to handle things is hilarious, especially when he manages to get an arm tangled around an obstacle when trying to reach for something.  The unsteadily drawn cartoons of the original are gone, replaced by in-game animation.  The graphics are much nicer than the original and perfect for the game.

Also, I want an Octodad plushy.

Audio
Cute.  I especially like the theme song “Octodaaaaaaad, nobody suspects a thing!”

Challenge
Somewhat uneven challenge level. Most of the tasks are pretty forgiving, you can take your time to improve your chances.  Some of the levels have fatal consequences if you screw up, so those are naturally less forgiving.

Story
More expansive story than the original, though still based mostly around trying to maintain your disguise and to keep Chef Fujimoto from turning you into sushi.

Session Time
Uneven, which could be frustrating at time.  The game autosaves after you pass certain accomplishments, but you can never tell how far apart those are going to be.  So you might be a couple minutes of gametime from the next autosave or much longer.  The stretch at the very end of the game is particularly long.

Playability
The controls are tricky , but that’s the point. Once you get the hang of it, you can move around and manipulate the environment at a pretty good clip.

Replayability
Not a whole lot, though it’s a fun enough game that replaying would be fun even if it doesn’t offer much new.  There are hidden ties to find as unlockable items, and you can try to reach other achievements that are listed in the menus.  At this time they’ve released two “shorts” which are downloadable extra levels made by the game developers–they have a short based around Octodad’s first date with Scarlet, and another based on an imaginary story told by Octodad’s kids who are imagining his adventures as a nurse.  I hope they release more of those regularly–definitely added value and fun to extend the play.  In addition to that, the game is available for online workshop development for fans to make their own content with the game.  I haven’t tried these, but I expect there’s plenty to play there.

Originality
Very! Such a simple, silly, weird idea. I love it.  A nice expansion of the original game.

Playtime
Played through the full game and the extra Shorts in about 5 hours.

Overall
Great game, a very nice expansion of the original.  If you’re unsure if you would like it, download the original game for free and consider buying the sequel to  enjoy more Octodad and to support the developers to encourage them to make more awesome stuff.  You can buy the game for $15 on Steam.  You can also buy merch, including an Octodad plushie (which I want!).

About David Steffen (64 Articles)
David Steffen is a writer and editor and software engineer and a voracious consumer of podcast fiction. The first piece of fiction he's edited is now available, "Taste the Whip" by Andy Dudak on Diabolical Plots(http://www.diabolicalplots.com/dp-fiction-1-taste-the-whip-by-andy-dudak/). David is also the co-founder and administrator of the The Submission Grinder(http://thegrinder.diabolicalplots.com/), a tool for writers.
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