Disclaimer: This was provided to me via a PR company upon my request. This will not affect my judgement but is being explained for the purposes of transparency. It is also worth noting that the game is in early access so certain aspects of the game may be different to the time of writing this review.
You know that game that adults play with children, where they slightly throw the child into the air and then catch them? Well it seems that someone over at Sundae Month may have read into that a little bit too much. Dad Quest is a 2D adventure-platformer, mixed with some RPG elements, that tasks the player with making their child “become the weapon they were meant to be”. I am not lying. As the game is a platformer there are naturally enemies. However these enemies are defeated with a father’s greatest weapon; their child. Players either swing or throw the child into enemies (more on this later) to defeat them, something that honestly never got boring. The idea of the game is great; it sparks interest, but how good is it actually?
What with the game being early access there isn’t much story to actually tell. From what I have played so far the entire game is essentially the video game form of raising a child. Not in the changing nappies and lack of sleep way, but in the general theme of the game.The child normally has to be summoned after being thrown, or collected by the playing running up to them to pick them up. However eventually they learn to walk and will walk back to you after having been thrown.
The tutorial level is well done. It plays out as a Dad leaving a testing facility after having completed a number of challenges, such as defeating enemies and exploring to find items required to proceed to the next area. The testing facility, and the fact that the player’s Dad doesn’t have a name but simply a number, hint at this being some form of cloning facility but this hasn’t been confirmed so far. Adding to this is the fact that the scientists at the facility want to know what it means to be a Dad, to raise a child. Maybe the player’s Dad is a clone, and the previous ones have failed in their mission?
The Dad leaves the facility and finds the CEO of the company that owns the facility awaiting him. They talk and the CEO tells the Dad that he doesn’t have much time, he’s very busy and that the Dad should jump on this boat and begin his adventure. As the boat sets off the CEO shots our Dad and he collapses on the boat. He awakes on an island, and shortly after this reunites with his child. The player then rescues a child who opens a door for him. From here the player explores areas in an attempt to find out what it means to be a Dad.
The gameplay of Dad Quest is, at its core, nothing new. Players explore an area, jump gaps and climb ladders all in the name of their quest to understand fatherhood. However Dad Quest shines in it’s combat system. As I said before, the child is the weapon in this game. Left clicking the mouse quickly throws the child, while holding it shows a trajectory arc so you know exactly where the child will go. Click the right mouse button and you’ll swing your child for a melee attack. This can be done pretty much as fast as you can click, so I often found myself cornering enemies and just spamming the melee button to repeatedly slap them with my child.
Enemies seem fairly simple to beat however groups of them can cause a problem. Keep your wits about you and you’ll be fine though. The save points are fairly scarce and leave you craving to see one. The game also features these statues that restore health to the player by smashing them with your child. This whole lack of save points and scarce health points add to the challenge and thrill of playing Dad Quest.
However the game isn’t evil. It allows you to equip items to your child in the forms of snacks and toys that give them certain perks. The cookies restore part of the Dad’s health, the explosion tags stick to the enemy they hit and explode dealing extra damage. These aren’t permanent however. They are one time items so if you equip the only one you have and use it, it’s gone until you buy some more. Killing enemies rewards the player with the in game currency, as well as experience points for their child. The white bar in the top right fills up whenever the Dad kills and enemy, and once full the child will level up. The player then picks a perk for their child; extra damage, the ability to hit multiple enemies with one throw etc. This is the RPG element of the game, and allows the player to upgrade their child how they see fit.
You can’t talk about Dad Quest’s gameplay without discussing the game’s humour. As you would expect from a team who devised a game where your child is the weapon, the game’s humour is absolutely excellent. Dialogue between characters is witty and had me laughing almost every time I spoke to a character. Even some of the tasks that you are set make you chuckle. At one point an NPC asked me to rescue her pet. She was unable to get it as the way was littered with enemies. You fight your way through only to find her pet rock and return it to her. I won’t spoil any of the humour (other than that) just because it’s worth experiencing for yourself.
The next element to discuss is the dungeon section of the game. This is unlocked towards the end of the early access content. This section of the game sees the Dad attempt to clear floors of enemies. The catch is that the player’s Dad is reset back to his factory settings, as is the child. As players defeat enemies the bar again fills up and you can upgrade your child as you wish; either the way you did in the main quest or use one of those abilities you regret not grabbing. I have yet to make it to the end of the dungeon. The multiple enemies do make for quite a challenge, but I am determined to beat it.
The last thing I want to discuss is something small, but something that didn’t make sense to me. Before writing this review I booted up Dad Quest and hit new game to make sure that I remembered the beginning of the game properly. I didn’t use the save statues and thought that, having not saved, I could return back to my save file and attempt that dungeon when I play the game next. Unfortunately, I was mistaken. The game loaded, but at the point I left my second game despite the fact I never saved my second playthrough. It isn’t game changing, but there may be some of you out there who enjoy having several save files. I know that when I record games I tend to use multiple save files so just in case anything happens I can revert back to an earlier save file. In this day and age of modern gaming it doesn’t make sense to me why a game wouldn’t have an option for multiple save files. Again not a massive issue for the masses, but one some of you may wish to know before buying Dad Quest.
There is promise of the ability to play as a female dad, as the game’s Steam page states that Dads “can come in many shapes, sizes and even genders”. While this wasn’t available in the Early Access version of the game I played, it’s something nice to see.
Dad Quest has a very simple look to it. A charming pixelated world that is unfortunately very scarce in terms of things to look at. At least at the time of writing this review. The scenery has few houses in it and, when trekking into the desert, this becomes even less (for obvious reasons). However the player moves from area to area so frequently that you don’t find yourself looking at the game’s scenery. There is too much to focus on in the area that you are in for you to be looking at the backdrop. This game is definitely not one for those of you who require your games to have scenery, but again this may change when the game gets updated and new areas are added.
Not much can be said about the audio of Dad Quest. The game wouldn’t suit tense drama music and so settles for mellow background music. All I can say is that it works. The music chosen fits the world, and the tone of the game, perfectly; but it’s not anything memorable. Those of you looking for epic soundtracks will not find it in Dad Quest, but once again this may change as the game is updated.
While the game does have it’s flaws I am loving playing this game. I can look past the lack of scenery and forgettable music, even the inability to have multiple save files, because the gameplay of Dad Quest is just that good. The tone of the humour is excellent and the gameplay, while being based upon the generic platformer recipe, never gets boring. The game is Early Access on Steam (PC only, sorry console users) but I do suggest grabbing it now and being a part of what this game can become. It certainly seems to have a lot of potential in my opinion.
Dad Quest is a fun game to play with a brilliant combat system. The game’s humour is excellent, but the story lacks something; it doesn’t hook you in. Luckily the gameplay makes up for this. The game is Early Access so this may well change as the story, and the game, develops.