Co-op in Octodad leaves a lot to be desired. The local-only mode allows up to four players to control the protagonist's limbs, each working a set or a single one with gamepads and the keyboard. Who controls what can be customized from the menu, so if certain people suck as being a left leg, they can swap at any time. For added chaos, roulette mode randomly changes which player controls which limb after each objective is complete. Talk about zany.
On the surface this hybrid co-op idea sounds like a wacky, wholesomely fun way to multiply Octodad's entertainment value. In practice, all it does is break the guiding philosophies of the game, turning an exercise in controlled chaos into chaos you desperately need to control. Imagine playing tic-tac-toe with someone who couldn't draw an X or an O. You have to sit there while they scribble random things, unable to participate until they get their act together. And you can't lunge over and draw it for them, that's just mean.
Octodad is fun because you can laugh at yourself trying to do normal things. It's not fun to laugh at other people when they're trying to be normal (unless you're one of those schoolyard bullies, in which case, we cast thee out!). It's even worse when you're playing a game and are working towards a goal. It turns into shouting matches and exasperated sighs. In your mind you think "I could do it better than my co-op buddy", which instantly makes you hate them all. The thing is, you probably couldn't do it better, so the anti-cooperative atmosphere is generated for no real reason.
"Hate" is too strong of a word when describing co-op in Octodad. It's more like eye-rolling displeasure. It's fun in short bursts, more so if you and your friends don't take completing the objectives seriously. But it just doesn't add anything to the game. In fact, it subtracts. Having separate simultaneous characters would be more entertaining, and it might even be a great co-op experience with each person working on different objectives so you can all pass the level. It opens up an ocean of design issues that would need to be tweaked, though, but it's fun to play pretend sometimes.
Octodad wouldn't be half the game it is without its sense of humor, relatable story, and blindingly creative artwork. There are jokes around every corner, most of them related to the indie gaming scene. Adding all those family-related "awww" moments humanizes Octodad, so you actually feel for the poor guy when he gets stuck in a shark-shaped trash can. You want him to succeed, which is why you keep going back, despite how stale the missions can get once the novelty wears off.
Octodad is a game about fitting in, laughing at your own ineptitude, and keeping life simple. It works well in single player mode, but the more people you bring in to experience the tentacle-slapping gameplay, the more frustrating it becomes. Better to play with an audience and just pass the controller along when you just can't take another minute of bloobing dialogue.
The Co-Op Experience: Up to four players team up to control Octodad's crazy flailing tentacle-limbs.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.