Wildcard Wednesday: Octodad
Posted by Josephine Johnson
Loving Father, Caring Husband, Secret Octopus
Wildcard Wednesday is where we open up the floor to one of our writers to talk about any game that they have fond memories of, on any platform. From Pole Position on the Atari 2600, through to Journey on the PS3, no game is off the table. This week, Josephine talks about a strange new game with some fantastic potential.
A month ago I had the chance to play both Xbox one and PS4 and a whole host of games at a special preview event. I got hands on with titles that we won't be seeing until next year and I chatted to developers and PR people about upcoming hardware and games - a fantastic experience! So why is it that all I've been able to think about since then is Octodad: Dadliest Catch? My every spare moment is consumed by it. I watch YouTube videos for hours. Heck, I'd have happily written my Wildcard Wednesday piece about a game I watched somebody else play for 5 minutes because, honestly, those were the funniest 5 minutes of my life. Having tried in vain to communicate to people how brilliant Dadliest Catch is, I resigned myself to simply waiting for the game's release until, to my delight, I discovered that it was a sequel to a free game on PC and Mac which you can download here.
Originally developed as a student project at DePaul University, Octodad won several awards and gained a fanbase for its quirky gameplay and slapstick humour. You play as the father in a traditional family unit. You have it all - a loving wife and two wonderful kids, a suburban house and a job. Sure, you still have the worries of every family man - keeping your wife happy, nurturing your children, household chores and ensuring no one discovers that you are secretly an octopus, you know, the usual stuff. To maintain this mask of normality, the player must maneuver Octodad through his home and complete a series of tasks without appearing too octopus-like.
This is not as simple as it sounds as the controls are as unwieldy as, well, controlling an octopus pretending to be a human. Octodad panics and squirts ink when he feels uncomfortable or threatened, making it all the more likely that his secret will be discovered. Each of his four (usable) limbs is controlled via a different mouse button and movement combination whichs mean simple actions, like picking up a banana, must be carefully thought out and precisely executed to avoid arousing suspicion. It's the difficulty and frustration that makes the game wonderful though. There's a real sense of achievement the first time you walk in a convincingly straight line or manage to pick up an item without repeatedly smashing yourself in the face with it and the developers have perfectly timed the challenges to deliver a big crash back down to earth following these moments. 'Look at YOU! Walking! I bet you think you're a big man now? Okay big man, score a goal with this football without revealing your true identity to your son and disturbing him for life! Mwahahahaha!' I love these moments. They are hilarious! Nobody can accuse Octodad of being too easy, short maybe, but not easy and that is no bad thing.
I would highly recommend this game to anyone who doesn't take gaming too seriously. It reminded me of surgeon simulator or QWOP, games which are as funny to watch and talk about as they are too play. My every description of Octodad out in the real world has involved my laughing whilst demonstrating how it looked when I tried to climb stairs the first time, wildly flailing about in public, smacking my arms into walls and dragging one leg behind me uselessly. My need to share Octodad's charming slapstick has lowered my inhibitions! It's free! Give it a go! I can't wait for the sequel!