Hello, fellow Indie-gamers and lovers of all things outside of the triple A gameosphere! It’s Mod Zan, here to discuss (from a feminist standpoint) an old favorite of all gamers, Indie and otherwise: Octo-Dad: Dadliest Catch!
In this review, I’ll discuss the perks and drawbacks of this experience (because after all, it is an experience), as well as how I feel from a feminist standpoint about the finer points of the game.
First things first: Art Style and Graphics! Octodad has a distinct, low-res but visually impactful style that leans towards the cartoon-like and avoids the mundane. Though I can’t say that it’s particularly unique to the game, it fits with the goofy, fun atmosphere of Octodad and for what it is, holds up nicely. The delight of the graphics is more in the absurdity of the characters, and their writing is what seems to be the most impactful.
Second: Gameplay. This is the core attraction of Octodad, and the reason why many big names in the Let’s Play community have taken on the challenge of this game. Octodad operates on the notion that you are an octopus, cleverly faking an identity as a regular suburban husband and father of two (You have two kids. It’s never explained. But more on that when I get to the story section!) Obviously, an octopus would have a tough time walking around, getting milk for his kids, cooking burgers, etc. This is reflected in the controls, which requires you to operate the limbs of Octodad and perform basic tasks, growing in difficulty as you go through the game.
The controls are awkward, difficult to control, and at times, frustrating. I never got frustrated to the point that made me want to stop the game, but there were definitely times that Octodad’s flailing got somewhat old. However, in the spirit of the game, the controls make sense and never reach the point of complete impossibility. It’s not for everyone, but if nothing else, is hilarious!
And now, the big one: Story! Octodad: Dadliest Catch follows the story of Octodad as he tries to navigate suburban life, avoiding the main antagonist, who is a chef that is consistently trying to kill/capture/cook you, convinced that you are an octopus. Eventually, you are separated from your family after your wife drags you to the aquarium, and are forced to find your way back while avoiding staff, the chef, and your family finding out who you truly are. From a feminist standpoint, there isn’t a lot to say about representation and diversity. Everyone is white, and you are in a nuclear family that is clearly inspired by the 50’s-style trope we all know.
Though the main character and antagonist are both male, I found the only major female character besides Octodad’s daughter to be somewhat refreshing. Your wife in-game is a determined journalist who meets you on board a ship after she infiltrates and you fall in love. She demands answers from you throughout the game and seems to be a little more than the average video-game wife, but in other places falls into the stereotype of emotional, ignored wife trying desperately to reach her stoic husband.
This is saved by the hilarity of the fact that you are an octopus, but isn’t exempt from the fact that it fails the Bechdel test. However, it does pass the Sexy Lamp test, and despite its lack of diversity and female representation makes for a good experience if you’re looking for something casual to play.