Eurogamer Expo 2013: Preview - Octodad: Dadliest Catch
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is one of the several indie games that PlayStation are publicising as being released on the PS4. Bright and bonkers, it's certainly something different and creative, appealing to younger gamers.
You play as an octopus trying to get by doing everyday human and family activities. But your boneless bulk and squishiness cause even the simplest of tasks to become a gauntlet of avoiding hefty insurance claims. Messy and manic, could this be a surprise title for Sony's flagship system?
Despite it looking quite off the wall, it's not an entirely new game concept. Stupid-hand/destruction-physics games have been around for a while now, from the (literally) smash-hit Flash game Minotaur China Shop, and more recent successes like Surgeon Simulator 2013.
The game that it's probably most closely related to is cult meme phenomenon QWOP. Like QWOP, various buttons and controls on your controller work various parts of Octodad's anatomy. You must manipulate these to attempt to move him around as gracefully as possible causing minimal damage, or as much as you like.
...what makes this different from QWOP, Minotaur China Shop, and Surgeon Simulator 2013, is that it's not as good as any of them.
However, what makes this different from QWOP, Minotaur China Shop, and Surgeon Simulator 2013, is that it's not as good as any of them.
The problem with Octodad: Dadliest Catch is its repetitive game mechanics; use right analogue stick to control right arm; press L1 to switch to legs; press L2 and R2 to raise respective legs, then right analogue stick to position them; use L1 to switch back to arms; repeat ad nauseam.
Despite it being cute and silly, the button-mashing and stick-twiddling maelström you'll work yourself into becomes frustrating and makes the novelty of the game wear off quickly. It's just too methodic to be fun. The glory and appeal of QWOP and Surgeon Simulator 2013 in particular, is that precision and routine account for nothing, making everything wildly unpredictable as well as utterly baffling.
Octodad's gameplay mechanics aren't going too, er, swimmingly! Screenshot: Courtesy of Young Horses.
Who's the daddy for?
Given this problem, it suddenly becomes difficult to see what market the game is actually aiming for. It's colourful, cutesy, and cartoony graphics clearly indicates that it's geared towards children. But it's so fiddly and repetitive that we can't imagine any kids keeping interest for long.
As for adults, it's just too basic and doesn't provide enough of a challenge to keep them engaged either.
However, that's not to say that this is a bad game; it's one that possibly has more potential than the Eurogamer Expo demo was able to demonstrate, especially given the sneak peeks the trailer seems to give us. If the rest of the game brings in more of this promised variety, and maybe a bit more humour for an older audience, it might succeed at being a game that, whilst not outstanding, is solid.
Furthermore, kudos where they're due, as this game has been picked up on the back of a student project (which is available to download for free from the game's official website). Sony clearly see a potential, marketability, and success in the title that maybe we've been unable to see thus far on the expo circuit.
Therefore, even though it might not be too impressive at the moment, we're willing and eager to see what surprises it can dredge up from the deep the closer to release it gets, including a demo that might have more to sink our tentacles into.
This review was done after experiencing the available demo at Eurogamer Expo 2013. Changes to gameplay may be made before the title's eventual release. To learn more about the game, visit www.octodadgame.com/dadliest-catch.