As an experienced gamer, I tend to play games by myself. I usually experience a game alone in my room where I can appreciate the subtle nuances like its story, characters, gameplay, and systems to absorb it all to get my perspective on it. But as I've grown older, I have started to play more co-op games with other people and I have decided to let them join me in this unique hobby of mine. But the person I have been with that has played a handful of co-op-centric games with me more than anyone else in my life is someone unexpected; my little step-brother.
And the game that we most recently played was Octodad: Dadliest Catch.
For some who might have forgotten this game, the player controls the octopus Octodad as he lives with his wife Scarlet and two children, Stacy and Tommy. It just so happens that he is trying to live out his life as a human, unbeknownst to his family who have no idea while he tries to complete menial tasks like buying groceries or cooking burgers in the backyard. All while trying to evade Chef Fujimoto, who wants to expose him for the octopus he is before he chops him up into a delicious sushi platter.
Much of the challenge in Octodad: Dadliest Catch lies with having to control the tentacles of Octodad while maintaining your cover, as to avoid any suspicion from the general public as you are living out the average day for this marine mollusk. In co-op mode, up to four players can divide control of Octodad's tentacles between them and must coordinate his movement together.
It might seem simple at first, but playing Octodad was an admirably frustrating experience. Part of it was my younger stepbrother goofing off by messing with some of the in-game items like chairs and trash cans, which caused the game to bug out in a whirlwind of disaster. But then I remember the times that I played video games when I was his age and how I did the same things, indulging my piqued interest in seeing what I could do to break the game.
But it's hard to stay frustrated when Octodad is so enjoyable. Some of my favorite moments include the instances in which I would say stuff like “Move your right foot!” and “Let’s go this way!” while we were completing the handful of levels that seemed simple in concept, but chaotic in execution.
One of the most jarring but hilarious game-breaking bugs that occurred was in the fishing ship level where we had to get down to the lower deck. Suddenly, my step-brother somehow got one of Octodad’s feet stuck on one of the stairs. I couldn’t tell if he broke through the step by breaking the geometry or if he was genuinely stuck, but it brought an endless supply of laughter from him while I gave an annoyed shrug knowing that I should let him enjoy the ride that is Octodad: Dadliest Catch.
Controlling the tentacles on Octodad’s body is a part of the charm that encapsulates the silly wonder that is Octodad: Dadliest Catch. In many ways, it captures the same cathartic, absurd, gravity-defining physics in games like Goat Simulator and Humans Fall Flat. I didn’t get the appeal of it at first, but then I realized something; it’s supposed to feel glitchy. The fun of which shines even more when you have another player by your side.
It’s surprising how a game about an octopus trying to live out his everyday life by completing menial tasks can create such a lasting impact on gamers, especially for those playing in co-op.
The main game can be finished in a couple of hours, but if you want to experience more, you can try out the bonus levels like Dad Romance and Medical Mess. These show a different side of the game like having the kids Stacy and Tommy imagine their dad working at a hospital trying to fix the various patients, with challenges that are constantly changing as the children perform as unreliable narrators.
Looking back, I will say that I remember the fondness that I had gained from playing Octodad: Dadliest Catch. Thinking about the elastic stretchy tentacles clinging onto the various surfaces like a jungle gym, or climbing up a wall to get inside an air vent. Hearing the constant gargling chatter coming from Octodad will always be present in the back of my mind.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a game with a silly, irreverent tone that is meant to be glitchy with its physics and level structure. Its story is simple and charming that includes many jokes that will provide plenty of laughs, even if you happen to have four friends by your side that are willing subjects to control one individual tentacle. Having a sibling or significant other can make the difference in providing laughter and entertainment from the game's silliness.
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