Gaming is not lacking in wacky premises. Plumbers eating mushrooms and jumping on turtles is an industry standard. But what you rarely see is a wacky control scheme. "Octodad: Dadliest Catch" matches a great premise - an octopus living among humans - with a purposefully obtuse set of controls. The idea here is that, you know, it would probably be really difficult to be a floppy, uncoordinated octopus to walk on land and pass for human!
And it is, if "Dadliest Catch" is any indication.
Octodad himself is literally an octopus stuffed into a suit. He happened to fall in love with a human woman and now has a lovely home and two precocious kids. "Octodad" starts out showcasing how ridiculous it is for the poor guy to perform simple tasks (like making coffee) but ends up a story about a father's love.
The game's greatest feat is a complicated control scheme that asks the player to individually control Octodad's legs and arms. The result is a convincing simulation of how a creature with a lot of legs but no skeleton would stroll through a grocery store: hilariously. It takes some mouse/keyboard mastery to figure it out, but that is sort of the whole point.
Key to Octodad's quest is that the average humans never discover he is an octopus. Stumbling into a gift shop's display, for example, will cause nearby strangers to notice you and wonder what's going on. While the level will restart if you cause too much damage, the game actually gives you a surprising amount of leeway. Near the end you will encounter marine biologists who "know a fish when they see one," but that's when the game asks you to find alternate routes instead of just blundering right past skeptical eyes.
The core storyline can be finished in around three hours, but each level contains hidden neckties (naturally, for a dad) to encourage additional runs. Each level also has a free play version so you can really act like an octopus in a china shop.
The thing is, in "Dadliest Catch" you are supposed to make a mess. The game is at its strongest when your only instruction is "use the supermarket's self-checkout lane" and just leaves you to it.
"Octodad: Dadliest Catch" is one of the funniest games going, like an "Adult Swim" concept show turned interactive. The ongoing obliviousness of other characters strings the player along, where only the viewer is in on the joke.
(This review is based on product supplied by the publisher.)
OCTODAD: DADLIEST CATCH
Verdict: You NEED this game.
5 out of 5 stars