Tentacular is Tentastic
By Joel DeWitte
We at Super GG Radio are unabashed fans of Devolver Digital, a publisher that has an impressive track record of bringing us games from smaller developers ranging from the spectacular to the utterly bizarre. As I gradually dip my toes into the virtual reality space, it’s apparent that the medium is rife with experiences that focus on wacky premises that require the player to accomplish tasks with unwieldy controls. Tentacular, developed by Firepunchd Games, fits neatly into that mold.
Tentacular is the story of a humongous squid monster, a pariah of the town he lives near, as he tries to find ways to contribute to the community’s development and growth. You have one friend on a separate island who upon receiving a request for an audience with the mayor offers a way to integrate into society – use those huge, sticky tentacles and power to help build things they need. What starts as a simple task then eventually escalated into bigger events involving a spaceship that bring into question your own origins.
The gameplay centers around this and tasks change and build on complexity over time. The first tasks are mostly simple, building blocks of effort. They then add tools like a gravity ball that can anchor two pieces of building material together so more complex structures can be built, kind of like actual buildings with metal beams and multi-floored towers. Another example is working with an Elon Musk stand-in and test rockets to help his aims to reach outer space exploration. Like any good builder, once you succeed a camera drops down so you can memorialize the event with a picture (just make sure the tentacles stay out of the picture, the town doesn’t want people to know you built it). Other neat quirks are that level selection, resetting a level, or quitting the game all are done by a floating box with a switch that needs to be pulled. And like any good unserious VR game, you can pick up things and toss them into the wild blue yonder.
Be warned: this game requires more precision than your Job Simulators’ flavor of goofy task completion, and less irreverent toward its source material. Job simulator, for example, has a lot more rapid fire tasks that are fed to you through each job type and a more direct locus of control on how you interact with objects. Tentaculars, well, tentacles are very fumbly by comparison. The appendages have this hang to them, which makes sense since they’re longer than hands. This makes flinging things and picking up & assembling things more difficult because you have to consider the curvature of the tentacles as well as arc of how things are needed moved/tossed when completing tasks. This makes every job more challenging because these unwieldy limbs have to be used with more precision to work. A good game by comparison would be Octodad: Dadliest Catch.
That said, Tentacular at its foundation is a fun, lighthearted experience. Firepunchd Games has created a charming, wholesome world that never takes itself seriously while not going into the territory of completely wacky. The inarticulate controls can take some getting used to and can be frustrating at the start, overcoming that challenge is part of the fun, it’s pretty gratifying. If you’re looking for a different flavor of mild task completion, this is a good complimentary experience to Job Simulator.