Who’s Your Daddy is a $5 Early Access online game for two players. One player is a daddy, the other is a baby. Daddy’s job is to protect the baby from harm for a few minutes. Baby’s job is to crawl around and kill itself as quickly as possible. Just to repeat that: the baby wins by dying.
The game takes place in a two-storey house with several rooms (kitchen, bath, living room, bedroom) and players switch roles after each round. James and Chris L. played several rounds together. The rest of this will be their thoughts and gifs, many of which—fair warning—feature a low polygon baby dying horribly.
It’s effectively a super dark spin on the struggle as a parent to keep an infant safe from the endless dangers that emerge from otherwise harmless domestic settings, while playing as the baby is an exaggerated riff on the curiosity of infancy. It’s exceptionally silly, though certainly bound to make some uncomfortable, as we’ve warned. Admittedly, we laughed quite a bit.
Chris L: Can I start by saying the baby is actually pretty terrifying, slithering around like some kinda nightmare monster? It can briefly sprint, too, and when gross things move quickly it somehow makes them grosser. It is not a creature you instinctively want to save. Which is maybe a good thing, because you’re going to watch it die horribly over and over again.
James D: The baby’s bulging eyes and broken neck certainly help dehumanize it, but I also feel less human after playing an hour or so.
Chris L: Dad is no picnic, either. When he crouches his legs just retract up into his body. Maybe the twist is that this game takes place in Hell or on an alien planet.
Chris L: As an eagle-eyed dad, I couldn’t help but notice Baby James had leapt into the bathroom sink, turned on the faucet, and begun drowning himself. After some fumbling, I managed to turn the faucet off, but Baby James had other ideas. Thus began a sink battle. A battle taking place in a sink.
James D: This baby has hops. Turns out a trash bin was easy access to the sink, and with dad transfixed on his own lifeless gaze in the mirror, I proceeded to make myself lifeless via tap water. I’m not really sure what was going on on Dad Chris’s end, but I nearly drowned myself before the click battle began. It was actually a pretty intense moment. I had Tom Marks watching over my shoulder, cheering on infanticide while I watched the green circle (my life bar) deplete.
Chris L: I just couldn’t click the tap properly. I was too tense and I kept missing. When you quickly turned it on and then off, resulting in me trying to turn it off but then turning it on… it was a clever and tenacious move by a baby with a desperate death wish.
James D: While the click battle over turning the sink on and off was fairly chaotic, it was actually pretty fun trying to anticipate Dad Chris’s clicks. Trading clicks is the first instinct, but stopping suddenly in the pattern can actually trick the other player into clicking again, turning the faucet against their favor. My tiny baby hands and mind couldn’t handle the (water) pressure, so Dad Chris took this one. Tom Marks was very disappointed that the baby didn’t die.
Chris L: While it’s a bit grim to see a baby execute itself, it’s also sort of funny? Kind of? I dunno. Possibly because the game’s graphics and animations are completely unconvincing, it’s sort of not a big deal watching a baby die. The horror mainly comes from feeling that you should feel more horrified. I did find several moments of genuine terror, though, on the occasions I completely and utterly lost sight of Baby James. I’d looked away for a few moments and suddenly realized I had no idea where he was. He could be inches from his death and I couldn’t find him! It was a genuinely awful, panicky feeling, somehow worse than watching him climb into an oven and try to cook himself. Which he almost did several times.
James D: Stealth baby is a legitimate strat. Well, almost. The house is pretty small at this point. There are several locked doors that will eventually be opened up and filled with more infant death traps, but right now it’s difficult to lose the baby for too long. Still, I managed to hide behind the toy box long enough for Pappy Chris to lose me. I felt pretty empowered watching him panic, and the jerky movements of the simple character models gave his rush between rooms a natural urgency. I tried to make a break for a nearby fork or hammer, but came up empty. Crawling is slow and those daddy long legs didn’t take long to find me. Here’s to hoping for more ways to hide in the final version.
Chris L: Don’t blame Daddy James for this one. We were in a truce: we’d found a key in the house and were wandering around trying to figure out (unsuccessfully) what it unlocked. Anyway, while James was futilely clicking doors upstairs I found a hammer and wanted to see if I could use it to smash the glass coffee table (I could) and then I tried to see if I could eat giant shards of glass (I could) and if that would kill me (it did). It was a cheap play on my part. I betrayed James’ trust and forced him to watch me die from glass.
James D: Curiosity killed a whole bunch of things, turns out. A good portion of our time was spent dashing around the environment as baby and man, attempting to use items on doors, glass, and each other. (The baby can grab a knife and slash with right click. Patricide update coming soon?) There were pills hiding around the environment, which I think let the dad slow the baby’s poison status. There’s that key, which we thought unlocked doors but might actually lock cabinets. Point is, there’s a lot to experiment with. How balanced is it? Well, not very, but most of the fun was in the discovery of a new way to die as a baby or hamper baby death as a daddy. With more rooms, items, dangers, and counters, the game could function as something super comedic and playful, but maintain a competitive edge. That said, if this game gets an esports following, I don’t think I can be a part of this industry anymore.
Chris L: Baby can pick up objects like forks and knives and jam them into electrical sockets for a quick death. Daddy can grab things out of Baby’s hands and try to put them out of reach. I also found a box of outlet covers, which can be used to nullify that means of death, though there are what feels like dozens of outlets in that house. In fact, while I was walking around plugging up outlets all I could think was “I wish my house had this many outlets.” My house has like four outlets. I’d happily let a baby die if it meant I had more places to plug stuff in.
James D: There are a ton of outlets. There are also a ton of forks on the floor. Pre-smouldering baby, it’s a fun juggling mechanic. As Daddy, you’re keeping track of the baby’s whereabouts, scanning the floor for knives and forks, and if the baby picks one up and dash to the nearest outlet, it’s an intense race to snatch the utensil from the infant’s surprisingly deft hands before, well. Yeah. ‘Winning.’
Chris L.: The problem with snatching a weapon from Baby is that you have to find someplace to put it, and dropping it on a high shelf or table is a pretty clumsy affair. There’s one shelf in the closet that baby can’t reach so it gets stacked with bottles of bleach and various weapons as the game goes on. It’s also a little alarming to look up at a looming Daddy and see him holding a knife. Then you remember that as a Baby it’s your job—nay, duty—to kill yourself. Daddy won’t stab you.
Chris L: James The Baby somehow dove into a trash can and I heard faint crunching sounds emanating from within. He was eating trash. I don’t have a baby in real life but I do have a dog and so seeing something I love eat dangerous garbage isn’t really a new sight for me.
James D: Eating trash is pretty natural to me, so I just hopped into the garbage out of habit. What ensued from my perspective was pretty psychedelic. Once poisoned, the baby’s vision goes haywire, warping in and out of color negatives. In the trash, I experienced the game’s wonky collision and physics while dying, and started to panic. I could see the ceiling, glimpses of Pappy Chris, and suddenly didn’t want to eat anymore trash or be in that stinky can. As artistically minimal as Who’s Your Daddy seems, it’s full of intense surges of emotion. Probably a result of the 1997 graphics against the sick context. Phew.
Chris L: What was more disturbing for you, being a dying baby, or watching a baby die while being a dad?
James D: I think being the dad was more intense, but I only felt really disturbed after the fact, usually when the baby won. The camera does a slow rotation around the infant’s body, and even though it’s pretty cartoony, once the action settles and you start to realize your laughing out loud in an office of professionals at a baby that just ate ten batteries, it’s hard not to feel, well, off.
Chris L: Yeah. And we both suddenly realized we’d had enough baby death at the exact same time. Watching the camera spin around a dead baby and it was like, “Are you done? I think I’m done.”
Batteries are OP
Chris L: We had to come to an agreement about the batteries under the sink. There are a bunch of them that Baby can quickly eat and die from, and Daddy (as far as I can tell) can only pick them up one at a time. We decided that batteries were way OP ‘cuz Baby could eat them and easily win every time. Batteries need a nerf if this is gonna be an esport.
James D: The developers of this game need to take a long hard look in the mirror and think about how OP batteries actually are. It’s a shame, really, to see such obvious competitive imbalance in a videogame in 2016. For crying out loud.
Chris L: Dad can put toys in a toy chest, and upon successful completion of this task is granted Batman-like detective vision, which allows him to see objects through walls and doors. Thing is, putting the toys away gives Baby ample time to kill himself, so I don’t see this as a winning strategy. Your best move is to hover around Baby at all times and grab everything he picks up.
James D: Yeah, I’m into the idea, but the task takes too long without much payoff. Maybe make it involve fewer toys so you can accomplish it with a bit of risk, but not so much that the baby drinks all the bleach instantly. Maybe give the dad a chore for every room, too. In the kitchen, make dinner to get an item that cures poison, or do laundry to increase speed. Who knows? Just give me more Dad powers.
Chris L: There should maybe be a single-use item Dad can use to slow the baby down so he has more time to tidy up. Like a taser. I assume people use tasers to calm their babies down? I’m not an expert, here. No, like, maybe a pacifier you can jam in the baby’s mouth which makes him move more slowly for a bit, or renders him unable to chug Windex for a minute.
James D: A taser sounds good.
Chris L: Tom Marks would probably like to see a baby get tasered.
Chris L: There is a giant floppy dildo in the game.
James D: There sure is.