Developer: Sundae Month
Publisher: Excalibur Games
Release date: 23 Feb, 2017
There are a lot of games out there about being a dad. The Last of Us, Lisa, Nier are some, and most it seems put a focus on how difficult and emotionally exhausting it can be to be a parent. Your child could get sick or hurt, or someone could abduct them. Legitimate worries, to be sure.
Dad Quest, on the other hand, is more like, say, Yoshi’s Island. You have an important job to do, yeah, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a fun adventure. It just depends what attitude you take with it.
You play as your average dad; a middle-aged, moustached fella in a ballcap and shorts. He’s a candidate for the Dad Quest, an epic test to determine if he’s worthy to become a father. He’ll need perseverance, a clear head, and to cooperate with his child – that’s especially important, given he uses them for a weapon.
Dad Quest is a platformer controlled with both the keyboard and the mouse, allowing you to look and aim in one direction while moving in another. It combines ordinary platforming with puzzles, exploration, and combat: when the latter comes up, you can either use your child for a bludgeon or outright throw them at whatever’s troubling you, and now I’m typing that out it sounds a lot more messed up.
Thankfully they’re indestructible, and game’s goofy atmosphere allows you to buy that, and it is genuinely funny without trying too hard as some other indies do. One moment in the tutorial involves meeting a worker who thinks the people in the room below are talking about him – when you look down, as the game expects, he keeps talking to you and gets annoyed you’re ignoring him, with his text box barely visible as he does. There’s also another moment just before the end of it I won’t give away, but had me snickering.
Gameplay-wise everything works, but the difficulty seems a bit unbalanced. Enemies can be difficult to deal with since you effectively only have one shot at a time. While you can warp your kid back to you Silver Surfer style and an early upgrade lets them walk back automatically, at best you’re often stuck waiting against multiple enemies or ones with bigger health bars, at worst you’re taking damage since you lost your method of defending yourself.
Another thing is health, which is pretty scarce, limited to items you buy or health pedestals that seem pretty spread out. Saving is also done at static points rather than any autosave: get killed and it’s back to whichever one you used last, which seems a bit harsh in this era. I still like the game though, and hopefully these issues will be ironed out as it goes along. There seems to be a lot of ambition behind the game, and I have a feeling it will pay off.
(click on the image to see the rating explanation)