We all know how smart octopodes (that's right, we're being pedantic) can be. Their curious brains, slimy tentacles and squishable bodies let them get into all sorts of mischief under the sea. But how clever does an octopus have to be to live on land? To wear a suit? To have a wife and be a father to two children? It's some clever hoodwinking, that's for sure, and in Octodad: Dadliest Catch, you get to participate in the deception!
Octodad is set in a cheery world not unlike sitcoms from the 1950s. Everybody's happy and the only problems they encounter are when the grocery store is low on frozen pizza. For Octodad himself, though, things are a bit more difficult. Nobody seems to notice he's actually an octopus. Not even his family. And he's going to keep it that way, even if his wife makes everyone go to the aquarium, a place no land-dwelling octopus would ever want to be.
With the campy storyline moving forward with each objective, complete with a salivating chef who is bent on unmasking our protagonist, Octodad proceeds with a series of mundane quests that illustrate just how difficult it is living in a world built by air-loving vertebrates. Ocotdad's tentacles are bundled together to form limbs. You control each of these limbs individually, picking them up, waving them in the air, and setting them down so you can walk and carry objects just like a regular person. Some of the earliest tasks are as simple as making a cup of coffee or mowing the lawn. Easy enough until you wobble yourself out there and try to actually do it. Makes you realize how awesome skeletons are.
A meter at the bottom of the screen tracks how conspicuous you are. It's sort of like a stealth meter in Thief, though far more forgiving. If someone is watching you, as indicated by a dotted line, you have to play it cool. Try not to flop around, bang into too many things, hit people with objects in your tentacles, or flatten yourself into a football-sized lump and crawl through a crack in the wall. Certain sections of the game require you to be even more stealthy, but overall Octodad exists to create a fun arcade-style tension between "ha ha you can't do that without opposable thumbs" and "tentacles are pretty useful".
The story takes Octodad to a variety of locations that shake the main formula up a little, introducing mini-games and extremely tricky objects to climb your way around. It never progresses very far beyond the basic set-up, though, so once you get the hang of it you've seen the gimmick the game has to offer. Steam Workshop support opens up the possibility of user-made sandbox levels, and there are some nice extras in the game that give you a reason to do more than just complete objective after objective.