Octodad would make a great cartoon.
While playing the game, it gave me that sort of vibe you get from watching Adventure Time or Regular Show, but not Uncle Grandpa, because that cartoon just isn't as good. Sorry, Uncle Grandpa fans, but your show brings down the whole Cartoon Network Monday night cartoon block.
The entire premise of Octodad hinges on the sort of random, surreal comedy that Regular Show has made its living off of: Regular situations with an abnormal twist. In Octodad: Dadliest Catch (ha), those regular situations involve a trip to the grocery store, getting married or doing chores around your house.
The abnormal twist?
You're an octopus, disguised as a man, husband, and father.
Get Cartoon Network on the Phone
Like any good cartoon would, Octodad throws you right into its world without going into the character's past or any significant detail about him, letting the viewer pick things up as the game goes on. It starts “en medias res,” with Octodad planning to get married to his fetching human bride, Scarlet, who has no idea he is secretly an octopus. In fact, nobody seems to have an idea he is an octopus, except for one crazed chef who serves as Octodad's rival, appearing out of nowhere but always away from prying eyes and taken care of before anyone sees. The premise has all the makings of a great cartoon: slapstick humor, an antagonist, oblivious side characters and well-written humor. It even has a theme song, and that theme song is awesome.
Despite being a cephalopod, Octodad isn't a mute: He'll frequently grunt and make noises that the in-game subtitles will translate into meaningful phrases. There is loads of story here and, as mentioned before, the tale is well-written and full of humor. The voice actors themselves are top notch and, while they may come off as over-exaggerated at times, they fit the tone of the game perfectly. The jokes are more groan worthy (however, there are a ton of clever game references in the humor, such as Minecraft, PewDiePie, Bit.Trip and QWOP references) but that's because the real humor comes from the game itself, with everything else being ancillary.
You're Causing a Mess, Octodad
Octodad is the next in a short line of games whose fun derives from the fact that the controls are purposely terrible. I mean, what do you expect? He's an octopus pretending to be a man, after all. I've never really thought about how an octopus would be a bipedal, but I think developer Young Horses really nailed it: Octodad sports an over-exaggerated walk, has long droopy arms that flail around and his lack of bones means he flips and flops over everything.
In normal games, characters are controlled by just using the left analog stick, but Octodad is not a normal game and Octodad is not a normal character. In this game, Octodad's left and right legs are controlled independently with the R2 and L2 triggers, one foot in front of the other. That over-exaggerated walk I mentioned earlier means that Octodad can clear long distances in a single stride but it also means he is going to crash into tables, knock furniture around and just cause general mayhem. Octodad's arm is controlled in much the same way, with the left and right analog sticks controlling the directions he moves his arm in.
Due to the boneless structure of an octopus, both Octodad's arms and legs flail wildly while sticking to everything in sight, so performing even the most simple task is difficult but always humorous. Waking up in the morning and attempting to turn off the alarm ended up with his entire bedroom being destroyed. Trying to give Octodad's daughter some chocolate milk ended up with the living room table being flipped over and chocolate milk being spilled all over her head. Attempting to buy some mango soda led to the destruction of the grocery store's “Soda City” display. Trying to drink some coffee led to the destruction of my kitchen's pantries.
You're probably wondering “Surely, other people will start to expect you as you destroy an aquarium or grocery store, right?” Technically, yes, as the game has a meter that raises as other humans start to suspect your zany actions as being not quite human. However, this bar fills pretty slow on Normal difficulty and decreases just as fast, so you're really never in any danger of being discovered. Setting the difficulty to Easy pretty much negates the bar entirely, letting you focus on what's important: Octopus-based destruction of property.
Short But Sweet
Octodad isn't an entirely long game. In fact, the entire game can be completed in about two to three hours: I completed it in about two hours and 22 minutes. Three hours is the sweet spot for this sort of game though, because even with the short run time I found myself getting tired of it at the end; however, it could be because the last half of the game takes a turn that makes it different from the first half. Once you reach the Aquarium, the game is less about random, wanton destruction and more about solving puzzles and telling a story. There is still a lot of opportunity to cause chaos but certain sections of the aquarium were grating, especially Tommy's Kelp adventure.
The fun doesn't just stop with the story, as Octodad offers a number of optional challenges for you to partake in. There are 33 ties hidden within the environment, letting you change up Octodad's appearance just a bit. These ties are usually hidden in the environment, and hidden well, so players who explore every nook and cranny will be rewarded.
The game's trophy set is fantastic as well, giving out trophies only for players who go above and beyond with the game. For example, trophies are awarded for finding hidden objects in the world and performing objectives differently than normal. They will definitely make you think and even when you know how to get them, it's still not entirely easy to pull it off. Some trophies seem to be very, very specific about what you need to do to get them, like putting the best man at the altar, so it will take a few tries before it unlocks. Luckily, the game has a generous checkpoint system so you can just restart your last checkpoint if a trophy fails to unlock.
The smart checkpoint system is a good thing too because at times, Octodad will get stuck inside the scenery or an item you need to complete a level will get wedged in between two objects and be impossible to get out. It's rare, but it does happen.
Lastly, you can always attempt to replay levels to beat the developer's par times.
Better With Friends
Like ping pong and jumping rope, Octodad is an experience best shared with a few friends. Crack open a few beers, load up Octodad and prepare to laugh yourself silly as you pass around the controller and heckle the current player about how awful he's doing controlling Octodad.
Young Horses has gone one step further though and added a fully fledged co-op mode to Octodad for up to four players and four DualShock 4s controllers. Each player controls one of Octodad's limbs, and if you thought Octodad was a hilarious, nerve-wracking experience alone, try controlling him when each of his limbs are flying in all directions. One of your friends will definitely end up getting punched at some point during the game.
An Indie Game That's 3D
One of the first things you'll notice about the game is that in its glorious 3D. While I personally have nothing wrong with indie games that sport a 2D retro look, it's good to see that there are some indie developers that are taking the chance with 3D. The 3D used in the game looks amazing, with characters looking like they were pulled straight from a Garfield strip. They are animated well and even the lip synching is spot on. Big props to Young Horses for not only pulling off 3D animation but doing a smashing job with it.
The PlayStation 4 Advantage
Octodad: Dadliest Catch was previously released on the PC and in terms of graphics, the PS4 version looks just as great. While no unique DualShock 4 (or PS4 in general) features are used at all in Octodad, the game controls great with the DualShock 4 and feels like it was made for it.
One advantage the PlayStation 4 version has is that the entire game was reworked based on feedback from the PC version. An annoying stealth mission later in the game has been removed entirely, so the game flows much better, and the game has seen a few other tweaks to make it play better. Unfortunately, the level editor from the PC version has been cut from the PlayStation 4 version.
Regardless, Octodad on the PlayStation 4 is the definitive Octodad gameplay experience thanks to the removal of said stealth mission.
The game did crash on me at one point, leading to me needing to unplug the PS4 completely to reset it, but this only happened one time and it could have been the system just as much as the game.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is one of the most unique games on the PlayStation 4, showing why Sony made an excellent move in securing indie support. The game is visually delightful, the gameplay and writing nail the very elusive elements of humor done right in a video game, and when it ends, you'll be left wanting more.
While the game isn't going to be for everyone, as some gamers will get put off by the controls or even the premise, it's something that every gamer should experience at least once. Octodad is the sort of bizarre, refreshing game that developers weren't afraid to make back in the PlayStation 1 era, showing that Young Horses is definitely an indie developer to watch. The game has a few missteps, notably in the Aquarium level, but the entire package is still one that's worth playing.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a one-of-a-kind game that demonstrates just how unique the PlayStation 4's game library is, well worth the $14.99 / €13.99 / £11.99 cost. Highly recommended for gamers who like to laugh and remember when video games were meant to be silly and fun.
Final Score: 8/10
Note: Octodad can also be controlled using the PlayStation Move, but a Move controller was not available for this review.
Article by - Joshua Phillips
Insert Date: 4/22/2014
A copy of Octodad: Dadliest Catch was provided to PS4 Experts by Young Horses for review purposes.
Developer Young Horses has revealed that a free set of DLC, dubbed Octodad Shorts, will release for the game in just a few months. The DLC includes the following:
Over 40 new objectives
Over 20 breakable plates
Over 0 unconscious ragdolls
Under 4 new songs
An unspecified amount of new octopus sounds
Probably a pizza
0 Stealth Missions