Octo Expansion puts you in the role of an Octoling (who’s much friendlier than those in the other campaigns), codenamed Agent 8, and teams you up with the grizzled Captain Cuttlefish to find an ally and escape an underwater dungeon. There’s a lot of funny and clever writing here, with highlights such as when several characters get in touch with their hip-hop side to help the exposition along, and a particularly hilarious talking telephone tries to enable “contemporary speech mode” to better relate to today’s Octoling youth. The macguffins you find by completing levels are literally called “thangs,” for example.
It’s easy to spot the DNA of Breath of the Wild’s shrines in these challenges.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s shrines in many of these challenges: one level might ask you to carefully splat a giant 8-ball to nudge it toward a goal post, while another will have you sniping multiple 8-balls to drive them through switches in a demented billiards table with limited ink ammo in your pack. One of my favorite challenges pitted me against flying enemies on a small platform made of breakable crates: if I focused too much on aiming up and not on watching my footing, my enemies would lead me right into a pit. Because I was constantly viewing familiar mechanics through different lenses, levels never got boring or predictable. The finale itself is also brilliantly structured, with a very different but fun take on a final boss.
All of these tests of skill in Octo Expansion are encased within the gloomy plane of the Deepsea Metro, which serves as a gateway between them. I loved seeing all of its bizarre, deep sea-inspired passengers that look like they’re commuting home from the set of a Guillermo Del Toro movie. The Metro is a clever way to create a branching level-selection system, as each of the stops is a trial room that sometimes opens up a new rail line to explore. It’s a relief that you don’t necessarily have to beat your head against a wall if a level is too hard, and can instead find a different line to progress in another direction. And for those dreading some of these unforgiving challenges: there is an option to bypass a level if you’ve been stuck on it for several tries.
“While checkpoints are usually plentiful, mission parameters are often extremely strict.