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Octodad: Deadliest Catch review: Octopi and suits don't mix, and that's the point

Hayden Dingman | Feb. 11, 2014
Octodad is a great gimmick that takes itself too seriously. But at least the theme song is amazing!

Try not to trip over your own eight feet while accomplishing the most banal of tasks.

I'd like to be under the sea
Octodad
is a gimmick. Unfortunately, it's a gimmick that all-too-quickly aspires to something more.

The game is at its best when the stakes are low. Trample your wife's garden and she'll reprimand you! Throw the burgers on the ground and nobody bats an eyelid! Slip on a banana peel and look ridiculous!

But without giving the plot away, Octodad's back half takes a turn for the serious. Stealth missions, puzzles that require nigh-pinpoint accuracy — these are frustrating enough in normal games, but in a game with a purposefully obfuscated control scheme?

It's tedious. I just want to gallop around awkwardly and look silly and accidentally run the lawnmower over my own head. Instead, I'm wrestling against my own incompetence because it's a hindrance, in a game where forced incompetence is supposed to be the joke.

The whole ordeal is compounded by a generic "do this thing three times" boss fight where one mistake causes the entire sequence to restart. And the sequence shouldn't even be that hard, except your AI partner occasionally fails to react the way she's supposed to when she's supposed to and causes the fight to grind to a halt.

Even though it clocked in at barely two hours long, I was more than ready for Octodad to be over by the end. Actually, that's not true. I wanted more, but I wanted more of that initial promise. I wanted to see Octodad just, well, being a dad.

Playing catch with his kids. Taking out the trash. Throwing shirts all over the ground. Refilling the printer's ink cartridges. Petting the cat. Driving a car.

There are limitless possibilities far more interesting than the high-stakes, video game-esque, "Play the Hero!" scenario we actually got in Octodad. It sounds silly to say, "I want to do chores in a video game, except as an octopus," but that's exactly what I want. Octodad's premise and gimmick break down under the weight of its self-serious story, and the whole product suffers for it.

The bottom line
Octodad: Deadliest Catch
is a great example of the harm video-game tropes can do to a solid, innovative concept. While the game starts out strong, with a charming premise and an endearing cast of characters, its best qualities are quickly discarded in favor of a generic, drab, action game with a poor control scheme. And that's just not enough.

It's a concept with great potential, and I look forward to seeing what people do with the Steam Workshop mod support (for instance, someone already recreated a level from Super Mario 64).

But the base game left me *half-hearted blub of disappointment.*

 

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