I never thought I would spend my Friday night as an octopus pretending to be a human, but a few weeks ago that’s exactly what I did. In Octodad: Dadliest Catch for PC (via Steam) you play as a loving, cephalopodan father who must hide his true species from his family. Between frequent confrontations with an unstable sushi chef, an increasingly suspicious wife, and a looming trip to the aquarium, Octodad has a lot more to worry about than stuffing his eight appendages into a three-piece suit.
Equal parts stealth and slapstick, Octodad: Dadliest Catch (by Young Horses) is the much-anticipated sequel to Octodad, which was created by a group of students from DePaul University in 2011 . Like its predecessor, Octodad: Dadliest Catch has intentionally difficult controls to give a surprisingly realistic experience of an octopus attempting to complete human tasks. The gameplay is made even more difficult by characters becoming suspicious when they see Octodad do things that ordinary humans would not, such as becoming entangled in a rope barrier or accidentally smacking someone with his tentacle.
Despite its humorous exterior, Octodad: Dadliest Catch manages to deliver surprisingly powerful messages about family, forgiveness, and staying true to yourself. The game features several boss fights, but Octodad remains a pacifist and always opts to escape rather than resort to violence. Though deceiving your loved ones isn’t generally a good idea, I think that parents can identify with the lengths that Octodad goes to in order to maintain normalcy for his family. As you play through increasingly difficult levels and learn more about Octodad’s past, you start to realize how incredibly human a nonhuman character can be.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a short game (it took me about two and a half hours), but it features adorable graphics, a humor-filled and ultimately heartwarming story, and the catchiest song I’ve ever heard in a video game. The game includes collectables, Steam achievements, and a secret level, all of which increase its replay value. Due to its difficult mechanics, the game can be rage-inducing, so I would recommend it for older children, but the humor and content is appropriate for all ages. I think I had more fun playing Octodad than I would have going out to a movie—for about the same price.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch will also be released for the PlayStation 4 later this year.