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  • Writer's pictureNate Hermanson

E3 2021 Mini-Preview: Meet Octarina, bringer of mayhem

Updated: Jun 20, 2021

As part of our E3 coverage, we'll be providing a few mini-previews for games that we were compelled to check out further after they caught our attention at one of the events. Many of these games have free demos, so check them out yourselves and let us know what you think!

It's that time: The Steam Next Fest is here! Over the next week, VGG will be continuing our mini-preview series as we play through demos of games we think may get overlooked amid the absolute flood of games showcased during E3.

When you work as hard we have these last few days, sometimes you need to let loose, flailing your arms about, wrecking your room, and... inking yourself? Not quite our style, but Octarina's got it covered, and this silly physics-based puzzle platformer certainly did enough to destress us.

A screenshot from Octarina shows a small pink octopus destroying walls in a mostly blue-toned sushi factory.

This octopus-based puzzler is destined to rival even the likes of the iconic Octodad.

Octarina is being co-published by MediaCube Games and Salty Octopus Crew and developed by a six-person team featuring Slavko Ivanovic, Martin Wolf, Katrin Mair, Nadine Bartosch, Dhana Panzer, and Christopher Pöschl.

Octarina puts you in the hands — or tentacles — of a little pink octopus trapped in an aquarium inside a strange building. Soon after breaking out, it becomes immediately obvious that they've landed in just about the worst place for an adorable little octo-kid. It's a sushi factory! Complete with a giant room filled with wasabi and a constantly running conveyer built with smashing and slashing tools, it's up to the player to find the lil' pink pal a quick way outta there.

Sometimes all you need is a goofy game that doesn't ask too much of you as the player. Octarina more than fulfills that need. That said, even with a clear goal and seemingly simple gameplay systems, Octarina can surprise with its platforming action.

A pink blob with cute anime-like eyes is on the floor in an office. The windows behind it lead to three different game modes they player can choose.

Most of your time as this wiggly cephalopod will be spent holding on for dear life. Our pink hero flops about with reckless abandon, their center of gravity shifting willy nilly as you try to direct them to the right spot.

As you move through the sushi factory, any small object that your tentacles make contact with is instantly stuck to you. After you've built a little collection of goodies stuck to your suction pods, you can aim and toss them anywhere in the room, giving you the freedom to really wreak havoc on your surroundings.

There's something so appealing about the simple chaos of Octarina. In my short demo session alone, I chucked bowling pins, explosive barrels, axes, and even a stuffed octopus. There's a solid destruction engine in place, so your base instincts to destroy will be deeply satisfied.

As wild as Octarina can get in its platforming, there seems to be a genuine way to get good? I know, it might sound strange, but there's some method to the wiggling madness. After trying the demo's two extra modes — Checkpoint Race, which has you following a particular checkpoint-laden line through the sushi factory, and The Floor Is Lava — I actually felt that I was getting better at manipulating this hard-to-control cephalopod. My competitive side was only made more dangerous when I realized the two extra modes were timed and had leaderboards.

A conveyor belt in the sushi factory with cleaver attachments and an explosives warning and many other dangers.

Once you shake the competitive monkey off your back and clear your head, you can actually take in your surroundings. Octarina features a pastel color scheme that only accentuates the cartoony vibes and the main character's adorable glow. The environments are dense, full of simple items to pick up and throw around.

In the full release, coming June 24, I'm hoping for new environments for our tentacled friend.

A few more stages, a few extra fun modes that make use of your sticky systems and throw mechanic. There's a solid base here for a fun little puzzler and I'd love to see it live up to its potential.

Don't miss out on this sticky situation. You can get your hands on the Octarina demo from now through June 22 during Steam Next Fest.


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