Octodad Dadliest Catch review

Young Horses' Octodad: Dadliest Catch makes up for clunky controls and a rough final act with undeniable humor and charm.
Young Horses' Octodad: Dadliest Catch makes up for clunky controls and a rough final act with undeniable humor and charm.
Young Horses' Octodad: Dadliest Catch makes up for clunky controls and a rough final act with undeniable humor and charm.

Highs

  • Awkward controls only add to the humor
  • Deft combination of humor and charm
  • Lots of possibilities for player-created madness in Workshop

Lows

  • Unexpected difficulty spike in the final act kills the momentum
  • Extremely short

DT Editors' Rating

If charm alone could carry a game, Octodad: Dadliest Catch would already be a lock for Game of the Year contention. Developer Young Horses dives deep into the awkward hilarity of telling this bizarre story of an octopus pretending to be a loving human husband and father. The cumbersome controls at the heart of this adventure are needfully frustrating – you’re flopping around on octopus tentacles, after all – while still being manageable. It’s just too bad that an ungainly gameplay leap in the too-brief story’s final act sucks some of the fun out of an otherwise silly good time.

Everything in Dadliest Catch depends on the odd, intentionally unintuitive control scheme. The game’s levels are (for the most part) built around simulating mundane, everyday activities like pouring a glass of milk for your daughter or grilling up a stack of burgers. The challenge and the humor are derived from the odd spectacle of prodding an impossibly land-walking octopus into taking care of an air-breathing human family.

Everything in Dadliest Catch depends on the odd, intentionally unintuitive control scheme.

On a standard gamepad, you press the left and right triggers to lift each of Octodad’s tentacular legs and then use either analog stick to move the raised appendage. This turns even the act of walking into a laborious process of manually raising a leg, pushing it forward, letting it drop, then repeating that with the other leg– which sometimes get wrapped around or otherwise caught on something. The sticks also move Octodad’s grasping “arm” when neither trigger is held down, and the A button (Xbox 360 gamepad) allows you to pick up and drop items with your suction cups. Fine motor control is rendered nearly impossible by the fact that Octodad’s limbs return to their natural center when you release the analog stick.

It sounds horrible because it is horrible. But in a genuinely funny way that instantly mitigates any control frustrations. Riotous calamity follows your every tentacle twitch. Logically, this shouldn’t be fun. Of course, logic flew out the window the moment you sat down to play a game about an octopus posing as a human. A task as simple as mowing the lawn turns into a Herculean test of patience and willpower as you whip around trying to avoid flower beds and family members. The solemn joyfulness of the game’s opening wedding march is really a disastrous comedy of shattered flower vases and crushed banana peels. Why are there banana peels on the floor of a church?!

All of this fumbling physical comedy is offset by the straight-faced family that surrounds our hero. Octodad makes Gumby look graceful and he sounds like a drowning Wookiee when he speaks, but his wife and kids don’t seem to notice any of that. They adore the lovable lug, and it’s strangely touching. Beneath all the slapstick silliness, there’s a goofy, clumsy family man taking care of his genuinely happy family. You can almost imagine Octodad beckoning his family to join him on a road trip to Wally World.

The early game’s everyday scenarios are occasionally interrupted by run-ins with a mad chef who sees through the charade. These escape sequences, coupled with the zany family time, sustain Dadliest Catch‘s short running time quite well until the final section of the game. A surprise visit to the local aquarium goes horribly awry, giving way to a handful of poorly realized stealth sequences and a punishingly challenging dash through a burning room. The difficulty spike is as unwelcome as it is unexpected, and it’s here that control frustration finally overwhelms the formerly-consistent hilarity of Octodad’s awkward octoposity.

The roughly two-hour story is joined by a freeplay mode that allows you to return to any section of the story. You can work to improve your completion times, search for any of the three collectible ties hidden throughout each level, or you can just go create a mess because there’s simple pleasure to be had in watching Octodad fumble his way around. A co-op mode allows two players to split the controls to whichever limbs they’d like – which is as loud and uncoordinated as it sounds – and a Workshop mode allows you to play created levels, either your own (using the supplementary editor app) or those created by others.

The story’s a bit too short and the third act’s jarring gameplay shift may leave some unhappy, but there’s a delightfully awkward game at the heart of Young Horse’s efforts. The basic concept of an octopus posing as a family man is almost too deranged for this world, but it works (surprisingly well, too) far more often than it doesn’t. Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a wonderful mess in all the right ways.

This game was reviewed on PC using a code provided by the publisher.

Highs

  • Awkward controls only add to the humor
  • Deft combination of humor and charm
  • Lots of possibilities for player-created madness in Workshop

Lows

  • Unexpected difficulty spike in the final act kills the momentum
  • Extremely short
Gaming

Days Gone will receive free post-launch DLC starting in June

Days Gone launches this week and the developers are already setting the stage for post-launch content. Starting in June with the Survivor mode, Bend Studio will begin releasing weekly free updates that include various challenges.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Gaming

This list of PlayStation 4 exclusives puts its competitors to shame

The PlayStation 4's game library and incredible selection of exclusive games could make anyone with an Xbox One or Nintendo Switch think twice. Here's our list of the latest and greatest PS4 exclusives.
Movies & TV

Skip the flowers and sunshine this spring and watch the best shows on Hulu

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Gaming

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Gaming

These are all the games we want to see from Square Enix at E3 2019

Square Enix will once again hold its own press conference for E3 2019. These are the games we want the company to show during the event, including the long-awaited Final Fantasy VII Remake.
Product Review

Something's rotten in Days Gone, and it's not the zombies

Days Gone’s predictable story is littered with repetitive missions, shoddy stealth and gunplay, and needless survival mechanics. It’s riddled with performance issues, like janky animations and consistent framerate drops.
Computing

These gaming monitors will transport you to another dimension

What are the best gaming monitors you can buy right now? We select five that are all priced under $900 packing premium technologies like G-SYNC and FreeSync, high resolutions, and fast refresh rates.
Gaming

Jump on your hog and use our guide to fast traveling in Days Gone

Days Gone has a large open world set in the Pacific Northwest, with the main means of travel being Deacon's motorcycle. Fast travel exists, but it's not as simple as it is in some other open world games. Here's what you need to know.
Gaming

Tips and tricks for beginners entering the postapocalypse in Days Gone

Days Gone has finally arrived on PS4 after multiple days. After more than 35 hours spent in the post-apocalyptic vision of the Pacific Northwest, we've learned a lot. Here are ten tips and tricks to help you get started.
Gaming

How to raise your trust and earn a good reputation with camps in Days Gone

Days Gone stars a drifter named Deacon St. John in the post-apocalypse. Since he's somewhat of a lone wolf, the people he comes across are leery of him. That's where the Trust system comes into play. Here's what you need to know about it.
Computing

Corsair’s Ironclaw, Glaive gaming mice are tuned for performance and comfort

Corsair is adding wireless capabilities to its Ironclaw gaming mouse this year, while the Glaive RGB Pro has been updated for maximum comfort with thoughtful ergonomics. Both mice feature accurate tracking and durable buttons.
Gaming

These awesome free-to-play games might be even better than the ones you paid for

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially popular League of Legends.
Gaming

Become your favorite Avenger and tackle this week's Fortnite Endgame challenges

The Fortnite Avengers Endgame event is finally here! Players can play as either the heroes or Thanos' army. This limited time event comes with its own challenges including using Iron Man's repulsors, collecting Infinity Stones, and much…