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Octodad Review

Review; May. 20, 2011; Channels: Video Games; By Kyle James Hovanec
I Love You Octopus

Innovation should be rewarded in gaming. In an age when games are being created as dollar magnets instead of as a means of creative expression, it is a joy to come across something that is simple yet charming and relies on pure game play instead of a bullet point list of gimmicks.

Octodad Screenshots
Click the image to view game screenshots

Octodad is that game with a price that simply cannot be beat: free.

Octodad was made by students at DePaul University and was the result of 19 amateur game designers entering the Independent Games Festival Student Showcase at the 2011 Game Developers Conference. It is, at a first glance, a third-person adventure in which you explore different locations and complete different challenges. Another look reveals that while Octodad is indeed a third-person game, the core game play and story are unlike any other title.

You play as the title character, who lives in a suburban-esque home with his perfect family and his immaculate business suit. But Octodad has a secret that he struggles to keep from his family -- a secret that could tear his family apart.

He's an octopus.

Wait, wait. The game play is even more ludicrous. It consists of walking around your home with the overarching goal of completing house hold-themed challenges such as mopping the floor, finding a book for a bed time story, and playing soccer with your son. What makes these mundane tasks compelling is the way Octodad himself walks and manipulates the environment.

The player moves Octodad by alternating the left and right mouse buttons and moving the mouse forward or backward. At first, the simple task of walking is extremely hard -- even moving from room to room is seemingly impossible at times. However, after messing around with the controls and taking the time to get your bearings, walking becomes second nature. Soon you'll be stretching your body across the house in awkward poses that look hilarious -- and are even more hilarious when you realize that Octodad's family thinks nothing of it.

Pressing the space bar allows you to move your tentacles and pick up objects. This is easier than walking, but it still provides challenges, as trying to pick up a specific object without knocking down or bumping other objects is another obstacle in and of itself -- and also funny as hell at times.

Octodad Screenshots

A meter gradually decreases with each failed attempt at completing Octodad's tasks. This meter is supposed to represent your cover as a human. When the meter empties out, the player is faced with a screen of octopus sushi. (The final challenge of this game is a showdown with a rogue sushi chef.)

As great as this game is and as fun as it is to play, it is extremely short. I was able to finish it on my first play-through in less than an hour. After finishing the game the first time, there is no replay value aside from the simple novelty of it. Another gripe: Occasionally, Octodad would be launched onto the ceiling after stepping on certain objects, forcing me to take a minute or two and get my bearings. While it wasn't a deal breaker, this was more than a simple distraction and happened a little more frequently than I would have liked.

Octodad is a shining example of how indie titles are becoming the go-to place for new ideas in game play and innovation. I sincerely wish the students who made this game expand on this idea, as a longer, more streamlined game is something the gaming world needs to play.


Review Score

Not Rated by ESRB

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