What's the Greatest Video Game: Octodad: Dadliest Catch

This is an ongoing list, where I attempt to play and review every video game ever created. For the full list please see the bottom link, or previous blog entries for other games.

I was one of the few people who was really interested in getting a steam machine back when those were going to be the next big thing. I was (and still am) mainly a console player, and there was something inherently intriguing to me about having a box that I could put under my tv, that acts just like a console but plays all the games that I haven't been able to experience. I remember getting the alienware steam machine in the mail, and spending a full day, setting it up to experience it. The first few games that I downloaded were "Octodad: Dadliest Catch" and "The Stanley Parable." Both were games that I had heard a lot about and knew they would be up my alley. While I have finished both not long after getting them that day (years ago), I recently was able to replay Octodad with a friend, and watch someone play it for the first time.

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For anyone who is unaware, Octodad is a game based around a central gimmick that it is hard to control. You are an Octopus that is posing as a human to do basic human interactions. However, each limb is essentially controlled by both a different button on the controller as well as one of the two joysticks, so something as simple as walking in a straight line can be incredibly difficult the first time you attempt it. Each level, or event that you play through during the game, riffs on this general concept. You need to be a passable human, and mess up too much and you are "found out" as an octopus and need to start from a previous checkpoint.

Your enjoyment of Octodad is really, how far this goofiness that stems from the character propels you forward. The first time I played it, was with my wife, and we found it incredibly charming as we bumbled our way through levels and laughed at the absurdity of it all. The game is probably a short 4 hours on your first playthrough and can probably easily be done in 2 or less if you played it again. It was a nice bite-sized joke game that made us laugh and then we moved on. Playing it more recently, something else happened, I realized that the game actually isn't that hard to control. Since Octodad has come out, a lot more games have been created (or that I have played) where the "this is difficult to move" schtick has been used. So, the bumbling and stumbling through levels, laughing as we knock over stacks of boxes, became far less common. This robs the game of its core mechanic. Now, I'm not saying that Octodad controlled like a precision platformer, but games like; "I Am Bread," "QWERTY," "Mount your friends," "Heave-Ho," and others are more common place, and we didn't struggle to control much like I did in the past. We ended up rectifying this a little bit, by playing Co-op where we each controlled a random pair of limbs that would rotate after objectives, but the damage was done.

Octodad, is a comedic game, that wants you to screw up. Being an Octopus dressed like a person is funny, but trying to have that octopus go grocery shopping, or grill burgers puts the player in situations where it is funnier if you fail. Its a better experience to have me knock over half a wall of groceries to get a box of cereal, then if I can get it outright. So while I think the game is cleverly written and has some good comedy chops, those punches only land if you are close to constantly failing, and having the octopus just barely pull it off. Lets be honest if you are playing Octodad with a straight face, then you are missing the point.

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The game's strength is also its biggest weakness, and that will sadly be up to your personal taste in how the gimmick works for you. Are there certain levels that work better than others? Of course, the grocery store is a great level, and the stealth boat level could have probably been cut, but in a 4 hour game I get it. Its overall a pretty good game, but like any comedy centric game, your mileage is going to vary. Also like comedy, its kind of one and done. You can re-visit it when you forget the jokes or need a good laugh, but outside of exploring around the areas, there isn't much to replay here.

Is this game the Greatest game of all time: Not today

Where does it rank: I have placed Octodad: Dadliest Catch as the #13 greatest game of all time out of 31. It sits between "Blast Corps" at #12 and "WCW vs. NWO: World Tour" at #14. A good but not great rating, but once we rate every game ever, we will probably find it somewhere in the middle of the pack.

Up Next: "Hybrid Heaven" for the N64

Anyone looking for it: here is the link to the list and more if you are interested in following along with me (this is not a self promotion). Here

Thanks for listening.