Octodad: Dadliest Catch is one of the greatest games that I have ever played.
Not for the gameplay, though that is definitely fun. If you’ve ever played or seen it played you’ll know what I mean when I say it is ‘precisely imprecise’. Not for the writing and humour, that, again, is stellar. The jokes range from blatantly obvious, to very subtle to somewhere in between and nearly every single one is a perfect hit. Not even for the story, which, although fairly stock standard, plays just enough with tropes and clichés to be extremely enjoyable.
No, all those things are great in their own right, but they aren’t what really make me love this game. What really gives this game a place in my heart is the relationship between Octodad and his family. This isn’t going to be a review of Octodad as a game as such, but more of an analysis and response to this relationship. Come with me, on this adventure!
[The following contains spoilers for Octodad: Dadliest Catch]
Octodad, is, as the name would imply, an octopus and not, in fact, the father of eight identical children. Through clever use of a suit and positioning of tentacles as limbs, he has managed to fool everyone into believing that he is a regular man, bar one crazy sushi chef and (unbeknownst to him) his daughter. Indeed, looking at him, one could be forgiven for mistaking him for beloved gaming hero and all time dreamboat, Cloud Strife. He is, however, an octopus.
[Pictured: Octodad (left) and Cloud Strife (right). I know, I know, the resemblance is uncanny, but they are in fact different entities.]
Despite the obvious struggles being an octopus must bring, Octodad has managed to make a decent living for himself. He lives with his wife, Scarlet, and their two children, Tommy and Stacy. His family happily lives in an average suburban home, with Scarlet working as a freelance journalist and Octodad a stay at home father.
[Side note: To avoid the obvious questions as to how Octodad has two human children, I present an answer from the Developer FAQ
Q. How does Octodad have human children?
A.If your parents haven’t explained this to you yet, we aren’t going to.
So in the world of Octodad, it is perfectly possible for an octopus to have human children through the normal bird-bee way.
Also, there is this quote from a thread discussing the matter:
The octopus gene is recessive, obviously.
There we go. That answers every possible question, for defos mate.]
Throughout the game, the family go to many different places, such as the grocery store and the aquarium (much to Octodad’s chagrin) and we even get to see how Octodad first took on his “human” form and met Scarlet in the form of anguish induced flashbacks.
All these activities are fun and involve a wide variety of objectives for Octodad to accomplish, many of which have multiple solutions. But the real draw of Octodad, to me at least, is how these situations display his love for his family.
One such situation is Octodad’s adventure to the aquarium. Despite firm protests that the aquariums are “festering prisons of iniquity”, his family eventually convince him to go with them. Upon arrival, a short comedic scene unfolds involving Octodad becoming increasingly afraid of the various things he sees. This quickly transitions to Octodad seeming genuinely upset, but Scarlet and his children reassure him that they will be with him, making the cephalopod visibly less perturbed and ready to start their visit proper.
This one image of Scarlet reassuring Octodad gives a massive insight into their relationship. Despite Scarlet’s growing suspicions of Octodad’s secrets, she obviously loves him nonetheless, and he loves her in turn.
Another stand out is Octodad helping his daughter, Stacy, when she becomes slightly lost in one of the aquarium’s exhibits. He bravely guides her through the deep-sea exhibit, and successfully gets her back to the well-lit areas of the aquarium. Bearing in mind that Octodad is originally from the ocean, and that some of these deep-sea creatures must be absolutely petrifying to someone of his nature, he nevertheless puts on a brave face to help his frightened daughter. This act of selflessness is another that exemplifies this deep connection he has with his children.
As the game progresses, Octodad does more and more to help his family. At one point he is even separated from them by force, outruns and outwits a shark, fights an enraged sushi chef and traverses a flaming room to save his family. Everything he does is, in some way, done for his family.
Despite writing this much about how much I love the relationship Octodad has with his family, I don’t think more words could do it justice. If you can, play this game. Experience for yourself the funny, beautiful, sometimes saddening but always inspiring relationship between an octopus and his family.
Many games, movies and books examine the connection between a person and their loved ones, but none have quite reached the level that Octodad has. Not even the absolutely stunning To the Moon, another game I highly recommend by the way. Perhaps it is because I am very empathetic and often literally feel the emotions conveyed to me as if they were my own, but I absolutely love this game. It is a great example of how video games can be amusing, heart-wrenching and beautiful all at once.
Octodad as a character has legitimately become a role model to me. I’ve realised that I want the type of family relationship he has when/if I make my own. Not that I don’t have a good relationship with my family now, but it’s a different type of family. Does that make sense? No? Who cares!
Anyway, here are three goals I have for my own family one day, courtesy of Octodad:
- A wife that I love unconditionally (or as close as we mere mortals can ever hope to achieve) and who loves me just as much, if not more. We can joke about, with and at each other, and will always be there for the other, whether we are exposing a company’s hidden agendas or, you know, being an octopus. I find the latter point unlikely, but you never know. Science has come pretty far.
- Strange and lovable kids. Be they strange in the same sense as me, more knowledgeable than they let on, or in some other way unknown to humanity, I’d like them to be different. Not in a bad way though, I’m not wishing ostracism on them by any means, just different from the norm in some way or another.
- And finally, the will to do anything for them. It doesn’t HAVE to involve fighting a shark or an insane sushi chef (I mean, it’d be cool), but no matter what it is, I want to be able to do it. I don’t want to be unable to help anyone when they need it, least of all the people I’m (self-)charged with protecting.
Of course, this will take a lot of effort on my part. I can’t just “wish” for it to happen and have it happen, but I guess you could call it a life goal.
I should probably start leaving the house as the first step toward that goal, instead of staying inside because I get too afraid of other people’s judgements and hide behind a thin veneer of competency when I’m internally struggling with the current situation and worrying that any minute my façade may fall and then people will know that I’m faking it and then they’ll hate me and I’ll become a social pariah and then have a legitimate reason to never leave the house again and I’ll be isolated from everyone I’ve ever known and become homeless and end up dying fighting a stray cat for food and then spend an eternity in Hell because I’m an awful, awful person and all my dreams will crumble to dust before me and I’ll spend it all regretting that time I let my social veil fall down in front of others and then AHH! MAKE IT STOP!!!
That may take some time. I have some… personal issues… to deal with first.
Though, if Octodad can overcome his fears, as a literal octopus in a world of humans, I’m sure I can find a way. Just gotta keep trying.
Oh yeah, the voice acting is amazing by the way!
Logan, the Not-So-Dragon