A Look Back at Octodad: Dadliest Catch
While there’re plenty of great father figures in gaming that deserve plenty of recognition this Father’s Day. Whether it’s a vengeful god trying to escape his devastating past with his son or a man trying to be a good father-figure for a young girl he keeps safe during the apocalypse, gaming has shelled out plenty of great dads throughout the years. However, there’s one character that frankly isn’t talked about enough since he made his console back in 2014 and is truly the dadliest of dads in the gaming world – Octodad
Yes, remember that game where players are tasked with playing as an octopus trying to maintain a disguise of being a modern family man and completing mundane tasks to keep people from being suspicious. When the game debuted on PS4 within its first year, it was a huge hit with people for its hilarious story and unique controls and easily one of my favorites from my early days of the PS4. So, with a new console generation upon us and Father’s Day finally rolling around, there’s no better time to look back at one of gaming’s wackiest dads.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is actually a sequel to the 2010 freeware game Octodad developed by eighteen students at DePaul University – who originally made the game as a joke. It sure wasn’t joke to everyone else though, as the game was incredibly well received by fans and critics alike for its strange controls and being very well made for just college project. However, eight of the eighteen knew they could do more for this game and decided to form their own game studio, Young Horses, that would go on to create the sequel we all know. The game was ultimately funded through Kickstarter and surpassed its goal of $20,000 as it raised a little over $24,000 through fan support. Eventually the game would become a big talking point in the indie game’s sphere and was even highlighted at PlayStation’s 2013 and 2014 E3 press conference before releasing on PS4.
Like I said before, the game has players take control, or at least attempt to, of an octopus posing as a normal human father in a three-piece suit trying to keep his identity a secret. While trying to not arouse suspicion from his family members, he’s also trying to avoid the clutches of a cartoonishly evil chef. Through controlling his many arms and legs/tentacles as best they can, players are tasked to complete many mundane tasks that range from going grocery shopping to taking your kids to the aquarium.
Being on a much larger platform, Young Horses was able to not only improve some of the controls for Octodad, but also expand on the levels within the story. We get a great origin story in Octodad coming onto a ship and commandeering it disguised at the captain, help Octodad down the aisle on his wedding day, and complete mundane tasks in the strangest ways. Getting grocery shopping done, mowing the lawn, and getting a barbeque ready has never been so strange looking and tons of fun. Octadad, himself, is also just a really great character whose fears of his identity being discovered leads to some great cutscenes, especially when he’s afraid to go to the aquarium, and players really grow to care for him because of his lovable charm. Not to mention, Young Horses knew that players would be unable resist the urge to make him dance with his wacky movements and included plenty of small dance sequences that just let players go nuts.
The controls are definitely unique with players controlling arms and legs separately and attempting to move around areas and grab important objects. From trying to get keys slightly near keyholes to putting grocery items in your cart, normal everyday tasks are equally frustrating and hilarious when playing as Octodad. This game is the definition of having control that you “have to get used to,” but it’s supposed to be that way. Part of the fun of playing as Octodad is making mistakes and flailing your arms and legs around attempting to get them into the right spots. Even with the opening tutorial being as detailed as it needs to be, to say that Dadliest Catch is tough at first is a big understatement. However, once players get used to things, controlling him becomes incredibly satisfying and an important element in surpassing the stealth challenges of the game.
Throughout each level, players must move as normally as possible when in view of NPC characters so that his real identity isn’t discovered. Whether it’s walking down the aisle on his wedding day without knocking things over or just getting through the aquarium without making the scientists, who “know a fish when they see one,” players must move carefully so that no one suspects a thing. These stealth moments really add a great amount of difficulty to the game that’s very refreshing and constantly keeps you on your toes – or rather tentacles. It’s even more difficult on higher difficultly settings, but it’s all what makes beating the game even more satisfying.
What really makes this game special is all the hilarious dialogue, characters, and sound effects that Young Horses have put into the game as it adds a little something special to every movement and moment in the game. With captions that will leave you in stitches, great animation in the cutscenes that show Octodad’s emotions, great visual jokes like the initial entrance to the aquarium level, and uniquely designed areas, the game is given the tender love and care it deserves to be an absolutely hilarious experience. Every time he makes a noise in an attempt to talk or a slide whistle sound effect is heard when Octodad tosses something away, it’s nearly impossible to hold back laughter and not have a smile on your face. Even just adding random banana peels in levels only adds to the hilarity and is such a small detail that Young Horses totally nails. Not to mention, they gave Octodad one of the best theme songs in all of gaming.
Now, while playing the game is perfectly hilarious and a ton of fun, the game rose to new heights with all of the fun you can have with your friends. Not only can friends take control of different limbs together to create a crazy co-op experience, but Young Horses have added the ability for multitude of Octodads to be on-screen at once with Multidad mode. Honestly, even just watching other people play this game is a lot of fun and I’ll never forget scouring YouTube just to see other people’s reactions and funny fails when playing this game. Seeing all of the artwork, shirts, and videos made about Octodad also really shows how much he’s meant to the gaming community and Young Horses have created a truly unique character that gaming will never be forgotten.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a genuine treasure that gave us one of gaming’s greatest dads and still makes people laugh six years later. With that three-piece suit, eight wacky tentacles, and a genuine love for his family, there’s no one better in gaming to pay respects to on Father’s Day than Octodad – and Young Horses, of course.