IRL dads are basically super human. In fact, there’s an entire subreddit dedicated to dad reflexes because they are so outside the realm of normal human capabilities that their special powers only activate once the fruit of one’s loins is threatened by malicious gravity and the like. Perhaps this explains why dadification has taken over so many gaming plots: because the super-human capabilities of a dad translates seamlessly to the super-human feats achieved by most videogame protagonists.
But usually in games, the super-human capabilities of a father are explored through a very specific lens. In titles like The Last of Us and BioShock Infinite, for example, dad reflexes are used exclusively to murder and protect their adopted daughters. The father—no matter how awesome and capable—is reduced to a one-sided savior who more often than not wants to shelter the child under their wing instead of helping her become her own capable person.
Which is why Sundae Month’s Dad Quest, launched on Kickstarter recently, is such a welcome surprise. A roguelite that mixes procedurally varied platforming with RPG elements, Dad Quest explores the bond between a father a child in more unexpected ways. Fathers essentially drag around their child, literally chucking them at different educational situations in order to upgrade that child “into the weapon that it was meant to be.”
On the legendary “Dad Island,” children can’t feel pain and “every good Dad knows that an airborne Child is a happy Child.” After tossing the child at enough enemies, dads can even throw them through buildings in order to unlock new abilities. As the Kickstarter describes, “what happens within building walls is a mystery, but as the Child passes from one newly broken window to the next, something awakens deep inside.”
Importantly, in Dad Quest, dads are more of a concept rather than the parent beholden to the male biological function. Anyone can be a dad, regardless of shape, size, and gender. Though a female playable dad isn’t featured in the Kickstarter yet, she is currently in the works and is “just as Dadly as the current model.”
It would seem that, finally, with Dad Quest, the concept of dadification is freed from the shackles of patriarchy. No longer are fathers supposed to be grizzly, gravely, possessive guardians. Instead, Dad Quest encourages parents to literally throw their children into situations that allow them to figure it out the world for themselves. Sure, as the parent, you can help facilitate the encounters you believe will let your child soar—you can even give your child the right tools to conquer it. But in the end, being a good parent means letting go and trusting your child. You become the biggest hero of all: a hero who admits he/she has no idea what the fuck he/she is doing, but hopes to figure it out with their protégé anyway.
And, as the Kickstarter says, even if “the Dad may not look like much,” he still “knows how to pack a delicious lunch!” And doesn’t that count for much more?