Games – a perfect storytelling medium. Like films, but more interactive, they have the power to make you laugh, cry or... raise your eyebrow, wondering how on earth anyone could come up with an idea like that. One such game that belongs firmly in the latter category is, Octodad, the heart-warming tale of a father, a mother and their two children, going about their day to day life. Except there's a teeny tiny little problem – you see, the Octodad in question isn't actually a normal human being, like me or you. He's an octopus. In disguise. And despite his distinctly cephalapod appearance, his family have no idea. Perhaps one of the strangest set ups of a game since Keita Takahashi decided rolling up big balls of everything to fill holes in the cosmos was a good idea, Octodad: Dadliest Catch is supremely oddball - and one of our most anticipated games on the PS4.
A slapstick fatherhood simulator, Octodad is a game that manages to turn even the most mundane of tasks into events that'll have you rolling around on the floor with laughter. Having no bones may sound like an advantage, but it makes performing every day tasks really, really hard. Whether you're making coffee in the morning, mowing the lawn, or even cooking hamburgers with your kids, thanks to your floppy limbs and sucker-covered tentacles, everything you do is profoundly and hilariously awkward. Despite being a bright orange squid in a blue tuxedo, it's imperative that no-one finds out you're not a human, or else... we're not entirely sure. Fortunately, no-one starts off being suspicious in the slightest, and providing you don't cause too much chaos, (or seem to struggle performing ordinary tasks that most normal humans could manage) Octodad should be able to life his life in relative peace. But were someone to discover your true nature, it's game over and your peaceful little family life gets torn to shreds – the family life you've spent so long building. That's a pretty heavy story for a game about a squid (Ed - OCTOPUS!).
Compounded by what is perhaps the most intentionally complicated control scheme to ever exist in a game, simply walking from place to place is a gargantuan effort involving two trigger buttons (L2 and R2) and an analogue stick. Effectively controlling each limb's suction with the trigger, you need to hold to unstick your leg (by squeezing the trigger), move it forward with the analogue stick then release the trigger to stick to floor once more – repeat with the other leg and you have a clumsy approximation of walking. With a gait that's somewhere between drunken goose-stepping and John Cleese's infamous silly walk, navigating normal spaces becomes quite a challenge, especially as random household objects have a tendency to become inadvertently stuck to your tentacles along the way. A whole new world of chaos opens up as soon as you try to use your arms – switch from feet to arms with the L1 button, and each arm will be mapped to a different analogue stick instead, with the R1 button used to 'grab' onto things, again with all sorts of similarly slapstick consequences. Controlling a lot like an arm you've slept on all night, things get swept off tables, keys get jabbed everywhere but into the lock they need to open and burgers get slapped into children's faces rather than onto buns – all while Octodad looks on, googly-eyed and completely oblivious.
In the demo we played, the titular cephalapod was getting ready for his wedding day – putting on bow ties and top hats, unlocking church doors and attempting to make his way down the aisle without taking all the tables with him. But things never seem to go quite right for our ever-suffering squid, as even something as simple as trying to open a cabinet involves pulling down an entire wall, and trying to put on a bowtie in front of the hallway mirror is a trial by fire, as we found ourselves accidentally attempting to put everything but the tie on – presents, balloons, even a stray chair at one point. Effectively a tutorial to introduce you to the game's wayward controls, it culminates in a hilariously awkward walking down the aisle sequence, where we're introduced to the detection meter – with all eyes on you, you need to be as careful as possible so as not to arouse much suspicion. Cause too much chaos, and congregation may start to suspect that you might perhaps be an octopus. But managing to avoid suspicion is easier said than done when you're forced to stroll down an aisle littered with banana peels (yes, really) and precariously placed vases on pedestals. That being said, it's certainly fairly forgiving when it comes to getting discovered, as we managed to slip on every banana peel going, limbs flailing like a particularly poor break dancer, vases flying, smashing on the mother in law's head, and no-one was any the wiser. All that was left then was to place a ring on our wife-to-be's finger – which required some serious analogue stick control – and our wedded life was ready to begin...
To make Octodad's moves potentially even more erratic, the folks behind the game have also decided to include support for the Playstation Move controller, meaning you can stumble around in real life pretending to not be an octopus, and have your moves mirrored in the game. Using a single Move controller (rather than the four simultaneous ones we had visions of when we first heard), you simply wave the controller to move Octodad's arms, pressing the Move button to latch your suckers on to objects while your legs are controlled by holding either the front Move button or the back trigger, depending on which one you want to shift. Theoretically, motion controls should make the whole affair a bit easier, and they certainly sound a bit simpler – but when your entire game is basically a clumsy control scheme wrapped up in a goofy squid (Ed - OCTOPUS!!) suit, we'd be surprised if it actually turns out to be.
Brilliantly bonkers, Octodad: Dadliest Catch should hopefully be hitting the Playstation 4 this spring, likely around March, while the PC version will be available towards the end of the month. In the meantime, we have a brand new trailer showing off some of Octodad's daily daddy duties, including a family outing to the aquarium: