This article originally appeared in PC Gamer UK issue 251.
I remember my wedding. I fell over three times on my way down the aisle, knocking over six different vases with my flailing, suspiciously elastic limbs. I'd stashed the ring in a convenient box of similarly shaped objects by the altar. Unfortunately it was under a cast iron nut the size of a bagel, and in lifting that out, I inadvertently flung it at some speed into my bride's chest.
When I finally had the ring in my suckers, I swung my legs around to shuffle closer to the love of my life, then mashed it artlessly into her face. When I finally struck low enough to hit her hand, it slipped over her entire wrist and we were wed. What she saw in me I'll never know – apparently not my orange, bulging, cephalopod head.
"Perform simple tasks without arousing suspicion that you might be an octopus in disguise."
Dadliest Catch is the commercial sequel to Octodad, a free game by students at DePaul University. Stuffed into a suit, two tentacles per limb, you use the mouse to noodle your arms and legs around in a completely unconvincing emulation of human movement, attempting to perform simple tasks without arousing any suspicion that you might be an octopus in disguise. Dadliest Catch is nicer to look at, makes you stretchier still, and gives you a new set of maddeningly straightforward objectives that the wibbly controls make it hard to perform without collateral damage.
Today I'm doing yard work. With the lawnmower clasped in my suckers, I dance recklessly around the garden, occasionally colliding with tufts of grass long enough to cut them. Job done, I let it fly from my tentacles to land noisily in our tree.
The kids are hungry, so I head to the barbecue. I spend a while trying to push raw beef patties into what I imagine is an opening on the far side. It turns out to be closed – you don't have much control over the camera, which is awkward at times. I need to put this meat down before I can take the lid off, but in trying to place it carefully on the table I end up rubbing raw mince into my son's face six or seven times. Understandably, the suspicion meter rises.
"It ought to be frustrating, but the easily wreckable physics-simulated environments make your clumsiness hilarious."
Finally, I hurl the barbecue lid across the garden, and press the disc of meat against the grill with my bare tentacles. Once it starts to smoke, I throw it at my daughter. It bounces off her head and snaps neatly onto the lettuce leaf on her bun, and soon all three of us are ready to eat. Mercifully, the game skips this.
Dadliest Catch ought to be frustrating – making awkward controls the primary challenge is rarely wise. Instead, the easily wreckable physics-simulated environments make your clumsiness both hilarious and weirdly satisfying. As long as you're not literally slapping your son with lump of beef, you arouse little suspicion. And the more fiddly the physical challenge, the funnier your failures get.