In Octodad: Dadliest Catch, a delightfully quirky adventure now available on NVIDIA SHIELD, players are cast as an octopus masquerading as a human being who happens to have a wife and a couple of kids. In order to hide his true nature, Octodad wears a suit, into which his various tentacles are stuffed. It’s your job to control his unwieldy limbs and you do so by moving each of his makeshift legs and one of his arms independently in an attempt to make him appear as human as possible.
The result is that Octodad flails around the game’s environments bumping into furniture, smashing objects, inadvertently getting stuff stuck on the suckers of his tentacles and causing mayhem. This, though, is the whole point of the game. Whereas other developers try to make their protagonists as effortlessly controllable as possible, here they have gone out of their way to make Octodad challenging to control.
Walking is a process of using two analog sticks to alternately move each leg-like limb forward while manipulating objects requires both sticks to maneuver Octodad’s arm. In any other game it would be extremely frustrating, but here it’s a fundamental part of the fun. For one thing it’s hilarious to see Octodad flailing around bumping into things while trying to achieve regular everyday ‘dad’ tasks like making breakfast for the kids, operating a barbecue or mowing the lawn. It’s unusual for a game to make you laugh out loud but Octodad’s slapstick behavior manages to achieve just that.
What’s more pleasing though, is the fact that after a short time, you will get Octodad under control and the various tasks before him become challenging, rather than frustrating. And that’s when you can begin to appreciate the game’s wonderful narrative. Octodad’s story is a delight. As well as seeing him struggle with his everyday family life, we also get to see how he got here in the first place through flashbacks. It’s a richly told tale that is tragic, touching and ultimately uplifting. It’s a lovely video game take on the trials and joys of family life and manages, somehow, to turn a deceitful cephalopod into an everyday hero we can all identify with. It’s also a great addition to the NVIDIA SHIELD’s rapidly growing library of games specifically optimized for the platform.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is now available to download on Google Play for $4.99.