“Who’s that man in the three piece suit?”
Recently there’s been a large increase in games that have wonky control schemes and fun ideas behind it. While many people recognize some of the early ones such as QWOP and Surgeon Simulator, more have launched since then. Some have mimicked the “simulator” type game style that was popular with Surgeon Simulator, and some are just little flash games that are easily found. It seemed, though, that the common thread between all of these games was the fact that they would forgo plot for gameplay. Until recently, that is. Octodad follows the same control scheme as most of the QWOP/Simulator type games, but it manages to show off the fact that you can have a plot (albeit a silly one) while giving players all the fun and challenge of the odd controls that made those style of games such fun.
At its core, Octodad is a simple game. You get a list of tasks that must be completed, and you get sent off to do them. One could simplify most games down to that, sure, but that’s beside the point. That point being this: you have to be a good father and finish the chores, get the groceries, and save your family from a crazy chef that thinks you’re the first wave of fish that are attempting to take over the world. A normal day for most people, right? Or maybe not. The plot of Octodad is one that’s laced with humor both obvious and subtle. You play an octopus who has managed to pass as human and raise a family. You spend the game going about daily life with your wife and kids and trying to avoid a trip to the dreaded aquarium, where marine biologists could see through your disguise. Along the way you’ve got a series of challenges to overcome, such as getting your morning coffee, mowing the lawn, and navigating the grocery store. The trick isn’t in the tasks themselves, but in how they are done.
The controls of Octodad are simple to learn but hard to master, much like QWOP and the rash of “Simulator” games that came before it. That being said, the controls are slightly easier on a controller than on the PC. Having tried both, I found myself able to navigate levels with greater ease when I had the controller. The controls are fairly intuitive no matter which system you play on, though. It’s easy to split the controls for Co-Op mode as well. That’s right, once you’ve beaten the game alone, you can drag a friend along for the ride by playing with split controls. Each of you controls one arm and one leg, and can choose to switch which arm and leg that is after each chapter of the game. It certainly makes the game interesting and continues to increase the level of difficulty. Despite the game being a series of trial and error tasks though, there aren’t many moments of frustration. It’s easy to put the controller down for a second to take a break if one is needed, but during my time playing it, I always found myself willing and even excited to move through the game. It’s not an action packed summer blockbuster game, but the cheesy lines and almost parody like plot keep the game fresh and fun to play. As an added bonus, the game is family friendly, which means that it can be played by hardcore gamers who want something to do in between Call of Duty matches as well as parents looking for something to do with their kids.