Octodad: Dadliest Catch Preview: Tentacles-on with the PS4’s Favorite Octopus

by Reads (510)

Don’t look now, but Octodad is starting to hit the big time. Since TechnologyGuide last saw gaming’s favorite (and only) cephalopod pop at PAX East, developer Young Horses has drummed up some notable attention from gamers, games press and game companies alike, most recently culminating in a featured spot during Sony’s annual E3 conference last week.

After it was outed as one of the many indie titles on tap to hit the PlayStation 4, Octodad: Dadliest Catch was out in full, eight-legged force in Sony’s booth on the E3 show floor. TG went hands-on to see if anything’s changed.

Nope. The PS4 version of Dadliest Catch is more or less a straight port of the PC version TG had previously previewed, only adapted to the new digs of the DualShock 4. Instead of using the right and left mouse buttons to control the secret octopus’s arms and legs, this version now uses the bumpers, triggers and joysticks of the PS4 controller. For those who frequent consoles over PCs (like yours truly), it’s even a little more comfortable to use than before.

That’s not to say Octodad himself has gotten any less clumsy. Players still have to alternate between “arms mode” and “legs mode” to move around. Octodad still has to keep its squishy nature a secret from the missus and his kids. All the while he still moves like a drunk man in the dark. None of that has changed.

The demo TG played was exactly the same as the one showcased at PAX. A few minor environmental details have been added (there’s now a crowd that stares at Octodad in the level’s wedding scene, watching suspiciously for any out-of-place movements), but the game was still its charming, goofy, good time, slapstick self. And that’s just fine.

Octodad Dadliest Catch E3 PreviewThe seemingly seamless move to Sony’s hardware is all the more impressive once one considers that Young Horses made the transition in a mere four weeks. In fact, saying “Young Horses” did it is a little misleading – studio head Phil Tibitoski tells TG that the port was mainly completed by co-founder Kevin Geisler while the rest of the team continued on with the core game.

(Consider further that not a single member of Young Horses is getting paid to develop Octodad, and that most of eight employees are making the game only when they can get a respite from their day jobs, and all the toil seems even more appreciable.)

So the port is a notable feat that caused the studio more than a few sleepless nights, to be sure. But the move to PS4 wasn’t as complex as one would imagine, according to Tibitoski. He says that since Young Horses is developing the game in C++, and since Sony supplied the studio with a loaner PS4 development kit that was surprisingly adaptable to PC architecture, the switch wasn’t the technical challenge Young Horses once expected.

Octodad Dadliest Catch screenshot 2As for how this PlayStation partnership came to be, Tibitoski says that Sony approached Young Horses shortly after it was honored as a winner of the 2011 Independent Games Festival Student Showcase for the original Octodad. The firm kept in touch with the studio over the past several months, and around the time of PAX East it approached Young Horses about the possibility of a console port. Tibitoski and company were interested, eventually accepted Sony’s offer to take its stage at E3, and got to work on what is now playable today.

Tibitoski says he has been interested in a Kinect-enabled version of Octodad for quite some time now, but that talks with Microsoft never evolved past introductory stages. That, combined with the Xbox One’s relatively less indie-friendly publishing policies, will keep Octodad: Dadliest Catch on PC and PS4 (for which Tibitoski is considering Move support) for the time being.

Either way, with the PlayStation 4’s improved control, more flexible internals, and boosted social sharing features — this game seems like a sublime fit for the Share button — Octodad: Dadliest Catch looks poised to be the premier next-gen octopus fatherhood simulator come next January, when the game first launches on PC. Sometime later that spring, it’ll flop its way onto PlayStation 4. Young Horses has not disclosed a price point for the game just yet.


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