Anyone who’s played the SNES classic A Boy and His Blob will know how attached you can become to a little pixelated buddy following you around and generally being helpful. Developer Sundae Month has doubled down on that feeling of camaraderie with the release of Dad Quest, in which your intrepid companion is none other than your own child. If there’s one thing the game has taught me, it’s that I find hitting things with children far too funny to raise my own offspring.
Dad Quest is a 2D platformer with a nonsensical twist that really helps it stand out. As a dad, the player is equipped with the right tools to properly use their child as a weapon in the fight against evil. Whether it’s hurling them through the air, using them as a club or turning them into a spinning shuriken of death, your child will be your main weapon in the game. Dad Quest is very serious about being flippant and irreverent. The game’s sense of humour can easily seem forced in other titles yet Sundae Month has struck a fine balance between absurdity and brevity.
Every wannabe Dad (whether male or female, both are options) needs a trusty child companion. Your child, as you level up and progress through the game, will grow. They will gain traits and behaviours based on your actions. The player is also able to equip the child with a variety of stat-boosting items and effects to help them overcome different enemies. Somehow, no matter how far into the game you go, the fact you’re beating enemies over the head with your child’s body never loses its comedic effect. That feeling is exacerbated by your child’s stoic demeanour and “this is my life now” attitude to the adventure.
Gameplay is split between traditional platforming - jumping, interacting and hanging from ledges - and frenetic combat. Your starting attacks consist of a bash attack and a ranged throw. Both can be charged up for more damage. The game manages to balance both aspects quite well - you’ll never feel overwhelmed with combat or bored by long stretches of jumping puzzles. The game is no walk in the park, either, most levels will only give a finite amount of heals for your Dad - heal up too early and you could be facing a game over screen before too long.
There are a few little niggles here and there. Playing with a keyboard and mouse can be a little fiddly, especially as you unlock new abilities. I found the game much easier to play on a controller, yet proper support has yet to be included (in terms of button prompts and tutorial messages). Some of the speech bubbles and text messages can be a little garish and scaled improperly, too, and can disrupt the flow of the game slightly.
Dad Quest is blessed with some great level design. The layouts of each stage make it hard to get lost or frustrated, which leaves the player to focus on the meat and bones of gameplay. When your Dad is levelled up extra areas of the game are unlocked, giving Dad Quest a surprising amount of replayability. The pixelated graphics are equally impressive, with a host of detailed enemies to fight and backgrounds to fight them in. There are some imaginative foes to defeat, including a flaming ostrich, hordes of itinerant pigeons and walking fish.
Dad Quest is (so far) an example of humourous gameplay done right. A game that could quite easily have gone the “lol so random” route handles its subject matter brilliantly. A mixture of great 2D platforming, impressive pixel graphics and chuckle-worthy humour makes this title one to look out for, especially for those who want to be the best Dad they can be.