Eight arms to hold you: Getting hitched in Octodad: The Dadliest Catch

Aisle be back.

Do you remember your wedding day? I certainly remember mine: the broken window, the cake trampled underfoot, the joy on my wife's face when I threw that huge gold ring over her wrist, like a hoop landing on a weighted bottle at a Coney Island concession.

Wait - was that my wedding or Octodad's? I can't tell anymore. It's all starting to blur.

Titanfall and Call of Duty may have drawn the biggest lines at the first day of EGX, but on the show floor, another - far stranger - game was getting a lot of buzz too. Over at Sony's stand, Octodad: The Dadliest Catch was waiting to charm players and gather crowds with its glorious comedy of awkwardness and antic mishap.

The sequel to the brilliant freeware QWOP-'em-up from a group of DePaul University students, Dadliest Catch sees you playing as an eternally hopeful octopus, seeking to blend in with humankind without alerting suspicions. It's basically The Little Mermaid with a lot more hat-stands falling over, and it charges you with moving its ungainly protagonist through the modern world while attracting as little attention as possible. It's social stealth.

1

Mirrors abound, making everything just that little bit trickier.

And social stealth isn't easy. The EGX demo focuses on Octodad's wedding day, and although the tasks are relatively simple - collect your tux and your bow-tie and make it to the church on time - it's all so much harder when you're a quivering muddle of boneless tentacles, a coiled pile of rubbery muscle and suckers, mapped to a weighty DualShock 4 in a marvelously confusing manner.

Example? Moving around sees you controlling your left and right "feet" - in reality, a bunch of those flapping tentacles shoved into trouser legs - with your left and right triggers and thumbsticks. To get across a room, you really have to learn how to think about the entirely instinctual business of walking all over again. You have to watch your weird loping, listing strides unfold on screen and then adjust your behaviour accordingly.

Then, when you want to pick something up, you need to switch to arms mode where the thumbsticks suddenly control the reach and direction of your flailing hand. Grab an item and it's stuck tight to your tentacle until you release it again. It turns out you can do a surprising amount of damage with a bathroom mirror, or a party balloon - or the sad middle tier of a wedding cake.

Faced with such a dazzlingly awkward means of getting around, Octodad's demo level then places you in a world of impedimenta: piles of gift-wrapped wedding presents, throw cushions, little plaster stands topped with pretty flowers. Once you make it to the chapel, you also have to take into account the fact that you're being watched by the congregation. The weirder your behaviour gets - the more you flop and tumble - the quicker your suspicion meter will fill up.

2

Each level has a range of collectable ties, tempting you ever-further out of your comfort zone.

There are a couple of elements at work that gather up these lovely ideas and turn Octodad into a truly astonishing video game. The first is the gleeful scenario you're dropped into. Weddings are already ripe with potential for embarrassment and disaster even before you take tentacles into account, so they're the perfect environment to squeeze every last drop of comedy out of Octodad's wonderfully large, imploring eyes and spasming body.

The second is the fact that, although the controls encourage a wonderful loose-limbed awkwardness, they're not actually that frustrating. Objects you're about to pick up are clearly highlighted in green, and the process of selecting an item and then manipulating it is pleasantly forgiving. One of the earliest tasks in the game is unlocking a bathroom cabinet, for example, and all you really need to do is rub the key in the rough proximity of the lock to make it open. It's still hilarious to watch, but playing it doesn't make you want to throw the controller across the room. Octodad, for all his wobbling, is actually rather elegantly balanced.

So if you're at EGX today or over the weekend, Octodad's well worth a visit. Just prepare yourself to gather a crowd of gawpers as you flail around, scattering church pews and accidentally punching your bride to be in the face with a massive, glittering diamond.

Comments (15)

Comments for this article are now closed, but please feel free to continue chatting on the forum!