Preview – ‘Octodad: Dadliest Catch’ (PS4)
Hidden away in a nondescript apartment, the 8-member team of developers known as ‘Young Horses’ are hard at work on their newest game, Octodad: Dadliest Catch. They’ve graciously welcomed myself and our writer Michael (The1stMJC) into their sanctum to not only check the demo out, but to sit and discuss the new game, bringing it from PC to PS4, and even some of the discarded name ideas for the newest iteration of Octodad.
We talked for a while, but one thing that had endeared me to the team right away is the fact that all but one member held other fulltime jobs as well, which is exactly the situation that Josh and I are currently in with PS Nation. I understand fully what these guys are putting themselves through for something that they obviously love, and just from speaking to them briefly, I can see why Dadliest Catch is already so good.
As Michael and I both played through the E3 demo, which has you getting ready for your wedding, not only were Michael and I laughing at what was happening on the screen, but the entire team laughed at us, obviously seeing the internal struggle that we were both experiencing, but it was a good struggle. As you attempt to control Octodad, which is no easy task, you’ll quickly realize that this is the hook that really no other game has (well, at least intentionally.) To “walk” you hold R2, while controlling the right and left tentacles independently with the Right and Left sticks. You might think that it’d be easy, but the way that the controls have been setup, it’s nowhere near that. You’ll struggle to even walk in a straight line, and to make matters worse, obstacles are in your path almost constantly, including the dreaded banana peels, which act as anyone that watches cartoons would expect.
Hit L1, and you switch control modes from walking to interacting with things. In this mode, you control the tentacles that act as arms, and perform different tasks such as grabbing, throwing, and pushing (to name a few.) The left stick controls Up and Down, while the right stick controls left, right, and some depth, all of which give you a perceived Puppet-effect, which is what the team is shooting for. It’s a purposely complex control system, but once you get the hang of things, it feels quite good.
This difficulty is all by design though. In the demo we played, you start by trying to grab a key from the top of a mirror, then using this key to open two locks of the medicine cabinet. When you accomplish this goal, you push the mirror, only to knock the entire wall down. Other tasks included finding your tux and putting it on, and even finding your bow tie in an elevated an difficult to reach spot.
The overlying goal of the game is directly related to the initial theme, you’re an Octopus that is married to a human wife that has human kids, and you don’t want to be found out. Anytime that you do something “not human”, bystanders will begin to notice, which in-turn knocks your meter down. It’s not easy though, as you fumble your way through tasks like mowing the lawn, chopping firewood, and even shopping at the grocery store. Some of the first words out my mouth were “so, this game is just made to troll the player?” The great thing is that yes, that’s exactly the intention. Within the first 30 seconds, everyone was laughing at my shameful gameplay as I fumbled around to try and learn the controls. That though, says so much about how this game is built. To garner those kinds of laughs from a game that has no witty dialogue or even funny text, it takes something pretty special. The guys at ‘Young Horses’ have, in effect, found a way to resurrect the difficult task of emulating why silent movies could be so funny back before talking pictures. Quite literally, ‘Octodad: Dadliest Catch’ is allowing you to emulate the lost days of Vaudeville, all while controlling an Octopus.
So unlike E3, when I declared on Twitter that I just didn’t understand the appeal, now I do in a big way. There’s no other game that you can compare this to, which is so incredibly rare these days. But it’s not just a unique game, it’s looking to be a fantastic game as well. Keep your eyes out for more details in the coming months, and check out the video interview above.
Thanks to the guys at ‘Young Horses’ for taking the time on a Sunday to sit with us. I’ve been told that if the game is delayed, that it’s all my fault. I’d say that delay would be worth it though…. right??