Splatoon 2 Review-in-Progress: Octo Canyon Won’t Overshadow Multiplayer

Splatoon is one of Nintendo's most colorful and vibrant properties, and Splatoon 2 is no different. Players loved getting to know Squid Sisters Callie and Marie, and newcomers Off the Hook are an even cooler new set of squid idols with super fresh music.

But there's trouble brewing in squid idol paradise, with Callie from the Squid Sisters having gone missing. In Splatoon 2's Octo Canyon single-player mode, you team up with Marie to seek out Callie and bring her back before she's calamari. You get it, right? Callie and Marie together is a "calamari" reference.

Anyway, the single-player Octo Canyon adventure is a welcome addition to the multiplayer-centric Splatoon 2, since the game has so many interesting characters that you need a separate mode to contain them. But if you were looking for more in the way of single-player story, cut scenes and other content to expand the Splatoon-iverse, don't expect Octo Canyon to overshadow the multiplayer options.

This is very much a self-contained series of missions that will feel a lot like the worlds from the first game. Unfortunately, the levels mostly revolve around trying out a bunch of different weapons, leaving the real goal of recovering Callie feel like an afterthought.

You see, Octo Canyon is only comprised of a few worlds, but things get changed up often by arms dealer Sheldon, who will occasionally let you know he’s got a new weapon he wants you to test out during a level. For instance, one of his earliest requests is a giant paint roller that you’re required to use to complete the stage.

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You can always go back at a later time and replay the same level with a different weapon if you so desire. Where you’re required to use a certain weapon, the stage has augments to make things feel tailored to the weapon. That makes for some decent replay value, but little to offer in terms of the story mode you may have been expecting from the trailer and other promotional material.

It’s frustrating, as there’s a whole wealth of character development and fun things to be done with Splatoon’s cast of characters, and Octo Canyon is little more than a riff on the previous game’s single-player setup. The levels are a tour of intriguing design and interesting combat, but if you were wondering if this time around you’d be more deeply entrenched in some sort of plot-based affair, that’s unfortunately not the case.

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Luckily, there’s plenty of fun, silly puns, and weird enemies to face off against during your time in Octo Canyon, at the very least to prepare you for the carnage you’ll face during online battles. And you’ll need that practice, you better believe it. With a whole new selection of weapons and opportunities to try them out before bringing them into an area where you've got to face off against real people, you'll be thankful for the levels that are provided for single-player completion. It's just a shame there wasn't more emphasis placed on navigating the story-related waters of Splatoon 2.

Splatoon 2 launches for Nintendo Switch on July 21.