Octodad is amusing simply through how he interacts with the environment, but this alone wouldn't be sufficient to support several hours of game. Running alongside the slapstick humour of Octodad's antics is the game's story and script, reminiscent of the Cartoon Network's strongest offerings with its completely daft yet surprisingly sharp wit, exaggerated characters (the two children in particular are brilliantly written) and particular repeated gags, such as the sushi chef's ongoing attempts to reveal Octodad's true identity. It's also surprisingly warm too, with several tender moments that emphasise the genuine love Octodad holds for his wife and children. Octodad falls into that too-small category of games which aren't just funny and clever, but pleasant and endearing too.
Added to the ingenious central mechanic and the excellent script is the gradually increasing absurdity of the challenges Octodad faces. The second half of Octodad is set in the world's greatest aquarium that doesn't just have BORING fish for you to look at, but all manner of rides, playparks and other attractions which Octodad must partake in to entertain his children. For example, in World of Kelp, there's a giant hamster-wheel that Octodad must spin to "make the Kelp grow" for his son. No doubt you can imagine the result of a throwing a wobbly octopus into a spinning wheel. Later on there's a truly vast jungle-gym that Octodad must surmount, an obstacle that will inspire genuine fear at the thought of trying make Octodad climb it.
Balancing the challenges for the player in Octodad must have been difficult for Young Horses, and perhaps unsurprisingly they don't always get it right. There's a bit in the supermarket which involves grabbing a bottle of mango soda from atop a huge pile of beer-crates, which stops being funny about five seconds after you start trying to reach it. The finale is even more frustrating, requiring a lot of delicate balancing and speedy movements that just don't come naturally to Octodad.
The final third also place a much greater emphasis on stealth, which is equally problematic. Throughout the game other people watch you fairly closely, and you'll raise their suspicions if you knock something over while in their line of sight. But the aquarium is populated by Marine biologists who can see right through your disguise by default, and navigating past them requires some delicate manoeuvring that, again, Octodad simply isn't built for. These sections feel antithetical to the game's initial premise, and consequently they make the closing stages a trial rather than a joy.
Given that Octodad only clocks in at around three hours, this represents a significant portion of the experience. It's a shame that Young Horses can't commit to its initial ideas for the duration of the game, and feels it has to resort to these more standard frameworks. That said, Octodad's wit and charm do outweigh those later frustrations. Plus, the laughs to be had in multiplayer, where each person controls one limb, make it an almost perfect party game. It may not be the catch of the day, but Octodad adds another original texture to gaming's ever-growing palette.