Indie games have remained one of the most creative spaces for the industry to grow.
There are rarely any corporate overlords to tell the developer what he/she/they should do. However, a lack of guidance before publishing can be dangerous too. A video game has to be more than a gimmick: no matter how crazy or funny the idea is, it doesn’t mean anything without a good game behind it. Octocopter: Super Sub Squid Escape is an example of a game that could have profited from some guidance.
Framed like a sleepy documentary, Octocopter: Super Sub Squid Escape’s opening narrative introduces us to a giant octopus who has taken over a submarine, battling for days until it reaches the depths of the sea. Unable to survive for long alone, the octopus must stick with the submarine in order to avoid certain doom. Together, the duo will twirl around levels automatically as players guide them through mazes. You can change their rotation and moving speed, along with shooting torpedoes to destroy enemies or unblock obstacles. Despite these action elements, Octocopter: Super Sub Squid Escape is better described as a puzzle game.
The objective of the game is pretty simple: get from one side of the map to the other, through somewhat endless linear tunnels. There isn’t a great deal to do other than speeding along crooked paths, which in most cases means you have to be an ace octopus sub-pilot in order to do so. Making a mistake by hitting a wall will probably mean death, as you can easily get jammed into a corner without escape. There are enemies to shoot in the game, but the biggest threat to you is most certainly the walls. Most of the action takes place during boss fights situated at the end of each world, which act as a nice break up of the monotony of the puzzles.
Yellow crystals dot each map, but they don’t seem to hold any purpose. There’s not even a point counter onscreen or any stations in which to spend them for upgrades. The only thing that monitors progress is a timer situated below your heart count. For avid speed runners, trying to get through a course within a given allotment of time may be rewarding, but I found its incorporation hollow. Actually, “hollow” is a good word to describe the overall design of Octocopter: Super Sub Squid Escape too.
Each world, consisting of five levels including a boss, has its own unique colour scheme. Other than that, there’s nothing striking about any part of the levels, or the production of the puzzles; everything is rather repetitive. Octocopter offers little in the way of challenge – death is frustrating and frequent, but it feels more like trial and error than there being any kind of learning curve here. As you’re making your way through a level, it’s up to you to observe the opening of a tunnel and make your best guess at the angle you need to be at. A yellow buoy can change your direction, but there is no way to permanently hold a position as you’re constantly rotating at a fixed speed (unless you hold down a button to increase it). Should you enter a tunnel at the wrong angle, you’re more than likely going to die, and since there are no actual checkpoints in the game, death is all too punishing.
There’s a health recharge point in the middle of each level, and it seems something of an oversight for this not to double as a checkpoint. That would have been a big help – as would making the load times faster. Having to wait for a load screen in between each retry – especially on later levels that you’ll likely be restarting a lot – soon becomes frustrating. If I didn’t have to review Octocopter: Super Sub Squid Escape I probably would have given up with it pretty quickly.
Octocopter is not unplayable, by any means but it’s certainly not a fun game, either. That said, it’s £2.69/$2.99 to buy on the Nintendo store, and for that, the puzzle design may be interesting for some. It’s just a shame that the game lacks any kind of depth. Checkpoints and improved load times would have made the monotony more bearable, but as it stands, Octocopter: Super Sub Squid Escape‘s initially funny concept is lost in its boring and repetitive execution.