Back when it first came out in 2014, Octodad: Dadliest Catch quickly became one of my favorite indie games of all time. The goofy premise, inventive gameplay hook, and charming presentation were not only endearing, but felt reminiscent of the creative and experimental cult classics of the GameCube and its contemporaries. Since its initial release on PC, the game has been ported to just about every system that can run it, including the Nintendo Switch. So, does the game still measure up on the Switch?
The game follows the story of a clumsy, but well-meaning, father living suburbia. Despite his best efforts, mayhem and mischief seem to follow him wherever he goes. Between the strange circumstances and his unwillingness to open up about his mysterious past, his wife, Scarlet, can’t help but suspect something’s amiss. His past catches up with him, however, as an old enemy attempts to expose his dark secret to his family and the world.
Wait, did I forget to mention the guy’s secretly an octopus in disguise? Silly me!
Octodad: Dadliest Catch follows the eponymous Octodad as he tries to complete everyday chores without blowing his cover, which is hard for a man with no bones. As to be expected with a game with such a ludicrous premise, the story is humorous, and sometimes even heartwarming. The real appeal of the game’s humor, however, is the physics; watching Octodad stumble through the game’s levels, knocking down everything in his path, is sure to bring a smile to anyone fond of slapstick.
The game’s core mechanic is its deliberately awkward controls. This may sound unappealing at first, but the controls are awkward in a way that feels comfortable, if that makes any sense. Players control Octodad by manipulating his limbs individually. This extra layer of abstraction can make even simple tasks like walking not only challenging but amusing as well. The odd controls do mean this game can get frustrating at points, but not nearly as often as you’d think.
The game’s main campaign is on the short side, with even a leisurely play-through only lasting a few hours. Fortunately, the game comes with two bonus chapters, which, despite being referred to as “shorts”, are some of the longest levels in the game. Factor in the three hidden neckties in each level—which are often deviously hard to find—and this game has plenty of replay value.
Unfortunately, the Switch version of this game doesn’t come with any extra bells and whistles. There’s no support for motion control, which feels like a missed opportunity given the nature of the game. Instead, the game is played using the analog sticks to position Octodad’s arms and legs. This is entirely a matter of opinion, but I prefer Octodad with a keyboard and mouse. The different control schemes both offer a very different feel to the game, with the controller favoring large sweeping movements and the mouse being better at executing small, precise motions.
My biggest issue with this game, however, is the graphics. While it’s understandable that a few sacrifices would have to be made given the limitations of the Switch’s hardware, the way they cut corners can be downright distracting. Shadows appear ludicrously pixelated, especially when viewed up close. It’s so bad at times it looks like the game is censoring parts of the screen. Other issues are a lack of certain visual effects, such as reflections on mirrors or the absence of rain in one level. Furthermore, the number of objects and N.P.C.s per level has been reduced, leaving levels overall feeling a bit barren.
Lastly, I should note that this version of the game has crashed on me, but it seems to have been an isolated occurrence.
In the end, Octodad: Dadliest Catch is a great game brimming with charm, and I very much enjoyed having the opportunity to play through it again. That said, the Switch port isn’t the best version out there due to a lack of control options and scaled-down graphics. If the Switch is the only system you have that can play it, or if portability is a priority, then it’s definitely still worth getting. Otherwise, I’d recommend you get it on Steam.
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