Monday 22 December 2014

Slippery customer Octodad is amusingly out of control

REVIEWED: Octodad - Dadliest Catch; Daylight; Sayonara Umihara Kawase

Published 24/05/2014 | 17:21

Octodad: Dadliest Catch
Octodad: Dadliest Catch
Daylight game for PS4 and PC
Sayonara Umihase Kawase

OCTODAD: DADLIEST CATCH

Download for PS4/PC/Mac

RATING: 7.5/10

AGE: 12+

CONTROL. You gotta have it. If a game developer fails to nail precision controls in their game – no matter what the genre – they’ll get pilloried by reviewers and ignored by the buying public.

Octodad, though, goes out of its way to make control frustration its central motif – but it’s all played for laughs, mixing the slapstick of Surgeon Simulator with a suburban sitcom sensibility.

The set-up is amusingly bizarre: an octopus poses as a human who marries an unsuspecting woman and has two kids (don’t ask the obvious question).

Dadliest Catch then explores the travails of family life - and Octodad is blessed only with soft tentacles for limbs. The act of walking is a feat of coordination in itself but the game contrives to make you the bull in the china shop as you negotiate mundane situations under the stares of suspicious bystanders.

Places such as the supermarket become instruments of torture – picking up objects requires intense focus and usually ends up with breaking something.

The gag of deliberately woolly controls does begin to wear thin, though, after the first hour or two. But Octodad is sustained over its short running time by the sly humour, in-jokes and the knowing parody of bland suburbia.

 

DAYLIGHT

PS4/PC

RATING: 6.5/10

AGE: 18+

“NEVER the same experience twice,” promises the blurb for survival horror Daylight. But that’s not the whole truth.

Daylight assembles the usual horror tropes – an abandoned hospital, a trembling, whimpering woman trying to escape, a near-total lack of light and a sinister ghost. In an attempt to inject some freshness into the formula the game randomises the layout of the gloomy corridors in every playthrough.

But that means nothing the first time you trudge through the eerie hallways, seeking objects to combine into a supernatural key to the next level. Daylight builds its atmosphere effectively, the soundtrack layered with whispering and groaning and the only lights coming from the screen of your mobile or the abundant supply of glowsticks.

You can see only a few feet in front of your face but after many minutes you realise there’s not much to notice beyond a mazy layout of dead ends and occasional glimpses of your ghostly nemesis.

She’s creepy enough on first encounters – and neatly you’re briefly forced to fumble for the exit in complete darkness once you’ve picked up the supernatural key.

Once completed, you can try for another run at Daylight’s randomised corridors but it still feels a lot like the first playthrough. The chills have lost their potency with repeated exposure to the one-trick ghost and there are too many moments of tedium between the jump scares.

 

SAYONARA UMIHARA KAWASE

Nintendo 3DS download

RATING: 6/10

AGE: 3+

BETTER known (and better titled) in the US as Yumi’s Odd Odyssey, this quirky platformer makes a poor first impression. It resembles the result of a school game-design competition, as if built by amateur hands with patchwork graphics.

With little or no backstory to prop it up, Sayonara relies on its tough platforming to grab you. It hands you a fishing line and asks you to traverse its 2D levels by jumping and casting the hook across chasms.

Mechanically, it’s as simple as it sounds but gameplay is punishingly difficult at times. Miss a jump and you’re maddeningly forced back to the beginning. Only by digging into the menus do you discover there’s an option to save at the midway point of levels.

With 50 missions to complete, Sayonara offers plenty to get your teeth into. But it’s too steeply priced at €25 and too unforgiving to attract a wide audience.

 

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