|Developer(s)||DePaul University students (later to form Young Horses, Inc)|
|Release date(s)||November 2010|
|Genre(s)||Third Person Adventure|
Octodad is a freeware independent video game developed by a group of students at DePaul University, many of whom would go on to form Young Horses, Inc., the developers of its upcoming sequel Octodad: Dadliest Catch. The game was developed for the Student Showcase of the 2011 Independent Games Festival, and would go on to be one of 8 winners in the Student Showcase award of that year. The game features a humorous plot revolving the central character. an octopus who is undercover as an average human with a family. The plot revolves around the player, controlling Octodad, attempting to complete various household chores and tasks while maintaining his secret. The gameplay takes advantage of the setting of an octopus' acting of a human to present an idea of mundane tasks being much more out of control, with a key mechanic being the suspicion towards Octodad from various family members. Its sequel Dadliest Catch is an upcoming project, scheduled for a late 2013 release, and was one of the first titles to be rewarded by the Steam Greenlight
In Octodad, the player is in control of an octopus posing as a human, with his own human family. The gameplay largely revolves around the balancing of keeping this charade alive while also completing normal household tasks, as well as his own work. Within the game, the player encounters many issues in a humorous story involving collecting pieces of a mannequin, but it seems that this job may be encountering problems previously unconsidered.
There are two different modes within Octodad the user can switch between in order to complete tasks set out for the cephalopod you control in the game. The first is the default which is used for moving the character throughout the game, mainly within the confines of your house and not his natural home, the sea. All of his limbs are controlled independently however in “Walk” mode only the legs are available to the player. To move the right tentacle for walking the player must press and hold the right mouse button and push the mouse forward and release when you want to put the tentacle back down and take a step. This is also true for the left tentacle used to maneuver your way through various task set out for you during the game. Moving each leg in succession and with enough practice the player can master the art of controlling Octodad.
The other mode is “Grab” mode. When this mode is selected in game the player then has control of one of Octodad’s upper tentacles. With varied sizes of suckers and his immense grip, Octodad is able to pick up, move, throw and place objects. Many tasks within the game require you to do these things. The way you grab is by positioning the tentacle next to the desired object and waiting for it to turn green, which means it can be picked up. By clicking the left mouse button, the object is now grasped in Octodad’s tentacle. Now the player can throw or place the object near Octodad’s static position, or they can go back into Walk mode and move around, still holding the object.
The game begins with Octodad being awakened in his family home by his wife. So, Octodad slides his way out of bed, gets into his finest suit and the player assumes control. The first time the player gets to control Octodad it is in a tutorial fashion, an introduction to the unique controls as the player begins his control of Octodad. After the initial controls are worked out and a couple of tasks completed the player has the option to explore the bed room more or go to the journal and start the game for real.
Next there is a cut scene where Octodad is writing in his journal. It explains the charade he is hiding behind will soon come to an end and that he must complete his “MYSTERIOUS WORK” tonight. There are also schematics describing how he is going to create a mannequin to distract his wife so he can escape to the basement and complete his work. Before he can finish writing his wife frightens him by grabbing his ‘shoulder’ to which he slams his journal shut. She goes on to say that he has been working hard and that he should take tonight off as it is their anniversary. She then speeds off to the store leaving Octodad alone with the children and a list of chores to complete. Octodad decides to use this opportunity to be able to creating the mannequin, the items he requires being his suit, retrieved from the living room, an octopus doll to act as his own head, which is gained from Octodad's daughter's room, and finally a banana, retrieved from the kitchen, to act as his moustache.
Note, at this point in the game, there is a selection in the order the player carries out these tasks. There is no set requirement in how the player performs them
Upon entering the living room a cut scene appears. It is his son who states that Octodad must get past a “gauntlet of awesome challenges,” before his suit can be retrieved, to which Octodad reacts with relative uncaring. Jokingly, his son says that he could ground him, but that would make him a chicken, but even chickens have a spine, so that must make him an OCTOPUS, causing Octodad to take the matter at hand seriously, thus beginning the gameplay for this segment. Octodad has to know down a tower of blocks, a simple act with the controls, and then score a goal into his son's "goal", which is really a cardboard box, this is a more challenging task, yet it is still manageable. The final challenge is a race around the living room, which given the control method is a lot more difficult. Upon the completion of these tasks, Octodad takes the key and can then retrieve his suit.
After entering the kitchen another cut scene follows. Your wife arrives back form the store and on top of all her shopping is a banana. After asking for it she states “But yesterday you said bananas were demonspawn from your darkest nightmare.” A thought bubble coming from Octodad’s head then shows him slipping on a banana peel, explaining his hatred for them. She says he can have it and appears to hand him it then recoils at the last second stating he only gets it after he’s finished all his kitchen chores. Now it’s back in the kitchen and he has another four tasks to complete. These objectives are common household chores easily done by humans, but with Octodad and the control scheme used, it can be more problematic. The main tasks are to clear the red counter of anything left on it, putting dishes into the sink, and then clearing out the dishwater, as well as mopping the floor. These can be more problematic than the previous tasks, although when clearing the dishwater, any dishes within it can be left on the floor and be considered completed. Once all the objectives are complete, your wife hands you the banana which you so desire and you must exit the kitchen to progress to the next mission.
Upon entering the kid’s room another cut scene follows. It shows his daughter, whom is frightened by the prospect of monsters in her room, provoked by her brother, Tommy. She says she cannot let go of her "octodoll" if she is scared so, Octodad, the loving father, sets out to banish her fears. One objective is to check the cloest for monsters, which will reveal an actual monster was in the closest. Octodad has to stomp any spiders found in the bedroom, and also find a book to read for his daughter. Finally, as soon as she is asleep, Octodad has to find a substitute doll for his daughter, relying on the controls of the hands can be difficult here. Once the doll is retrieved, Octodad must escape her room quietly without waking her and return to the dining room to finally build the mannequin.
Once all the objectives are complete Tommy graces his father with the key to the grandfather clock in which his suit is stored. Another cut scene appears showing Octodad watching TV. The advert on the television shows a fish restaurant called “Fujimoto”. The head chef of this restaurant is crazed and his obsession is to kill, cook and eat Octodad. He then appears at Octodad’s living room window and startles him, the screen inks black and you are back to the game.
Once the mannequin is complete, a penultimate cut scene appears. The chef from Fujimoto bursts in the front door to the house and confronts him with a final challenge. Octodad must climb a ladder. The chef sets Octodad’s dining room on fire and stands at the top of the ladder waiting for him. Once the ladder is climbed the final cut scene is shown.
The chef tries to kill Octodad and swings his meat cleaver and strikes the mannequin Octodad fashioned earlier. He realises he has been fooled but it is too late and Octodad’s wife and children appear. The chef claims that Octodad is not human but the family take no notice and are on Octodad’s side. The chef is forcefully removed from the house by a barrage of toys and kitchen implements. Now standing on the street in the light of a street lamp, the chef announces his revenge upon Octodad and his family and disappears into the darkness.
The team behind the original Octodad consisted of eighteen students attending the dePaul University of Chicago, Illinois, eight of whom went to form Wild Horses Inc, the team behind its sequel Dadliest Catch. Its origins have been described as "The idea was originally a joke, based on another idea that was a joke that came about through the frustration of us not being able to come up with something original" by programmer Phillip Tibitoski in an interview with video game website Joystiq. The idea behind the awkward control scheme is also described as being “a man piloting another man from inside his head” according to producer John Murphy inside the same article.
During the development of the game, the controls schemes were a major issue of talking, with many various formats being considered, including the traditional WASD format, as well as the use of a secondary mouse, and thus it was settled for the current method that was described[by whom?] as “the greatest source of novelty, as well as frustration”.
In its current form, Wild Horses Inc consists of eight of the original 18 developers, with those who are no longer partaking in development signing over rights to Octodad in return for a share of the company as well as royalties from the sequel.
Octodad was well received by critics and the public alike. It was praised for its comedy and also its interesting game play style. It got a rating of 9.2 out of 10 on indiedb. It received 3.5 out of 5 from the-back-row. Although it is known for being incredibly difficult to play the game designers are praised for keeping it short, being able to complete in under an hour. Allen Cook from Gamers with Jobs described it as “the best slapstick routine I’ve seen in a game, period”. However it did receive some criticism for not resolving some plot points, such as the chef that threatens to cook your character at one point and appears in your house. Overall it was well received, being cited as being very well written for a college project. It has also been compared to the game QWOP due to how both games feature awkward controls as a key feature of the game.
Octodad: Dadliest Catch 
Dadliest Catch is the upcoming sequel to Octodad, currently scheduled for a 2013 release, and is one game to go through the Steam Greenlight process, being one of the first batch of games to pass the procedure. It was funded through a Kickstarter project, achieving a funding level of $24,320; accomplishing the developer's goal of $20,000, with funding ending in August 2011. The game is being planned for release in Windows, Mac and Linux. The game looks to feature improved graphics, and is planned to have a more expansive plot compared to the original. In addition, despite the original being freeware, this game will be priced.
- The 15th Annual Independent Games Festival - Octodad
- DePaul’s Octodad Named a Student Showcase Winner at the 2011 IGF Competition | Business Wire
- Steam Greenlight :: Octodad: Dadliest Catch
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Octodad|
- http://www.octodadgame.com - Official website.
- http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1432651738/octodad-2 - Kickstarter page
- http://www.facebook.com/octodadgame - Official Facebook Page
- http://www.twitter.com/octodadgame - Official Twitter Page