When I heard that Tim Schafer and the folks at Double Fine Productions would be reviving some of the classic point-and-click adventure games from the ‘90s, my ears perked up. I was especially intrigued when I learned that Day of the Tentacle was to be among the titles to receive a new coat of paint. This is a game that I remember enjoying when I was younger, although I never got to play it all the way through. Now, over 20 years later, I've finally had the chance to revisit this classic adventure. Day of the Tentacle is just one of many seminal titles that were developed by LucasArts in the late 1980s and throughout the ‘90s. The LucasArts games became instant classics due to their fun puzzles, interesting characters, cartoony art style, and amusing narratives. Day of the Tentacle is actually a sequel to another LucasArts game called Maniac Mansion (Side note: Day of the Tentacle Remastered includes a playable version of the entire Maniac Mansion game, if you can find it). But, that's enough of a history lesson for now. Does a two-decade-old game like Day of the Tentacle still hold up today? In a word, yes.
Title: Day of the Tentacle Remastered
Release Date: March 22nd, 2016
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Platforms: PS4, PS Vita, OSX, & PC (Reviewed)
In Day of the Tentacle Remastered, you control three different characters: Bernard, Laverne, and Hoagie. Bernard is a stereotypical nerd — complete with glasses, a bow tie, a pocket protector, the whole bit — and he's also the only one of these three who appeared in the original Maniac Mansion game. Laverne is a kind — but slightly insane — pre-med student, and Hoagie is a laid-back, overweight roadie for a heavy metal band. How these three became friends, I'll never know. But, together they end up getting into a predicament that spans the ages.
When Bernard receives a letter requesting his help, he decides to travel back to the mansion of the mad scientist, Dr. Fred Edison, in order to investigate. As it turns out, the letter was sent by Green Tentacle, one of Dr. Fred's genetically-engineered pets. Apparently, after drinking from the toxic waste being pumped out from Dr. Fred's lab, Purple Tentacle has sprouted arms and has become super intelligent, subsequently vowing to take over the world. With Laverne and Hoagie in tow, Bernard arrives to help Dr. Fred put a stop to Purple Tentacle's nefarious plans. From here, an epic and zany adventure ensues as our protagonists must work together to defeat Purple Tentacle and save the human race.
Day of the Tentacle Remastered plays like many other games in the Adventure genre. You point and click to determine where you want your character to go. As you explore the environment, you collect items which you’ll use to solve puzzles and progress the story. There's also a large cast of zany characters with whom you can interact. When you talk to another character, you are given a list of dialogue options to choose from. All of the characters are fully voice-acted, and the dialogue itself is clever and witty. There are even references to other LucasArts games, such as Sam and Max and the Monkey Island series. Aside from the voice acting — which I'm pretty sure wasn't altered from the 1993 original — the game has been completely overhauled. Day of the Tentacle has always had a charming cartoony art style, but the remastered version features completely redrawn visuals, and they look absolutely beautiful. The music has also benefitted from an upgrade, sounding a bit more modern and much fuller than the original musical score. Additionally, the user interface has been vastly improved, featuring an easy-to-use command wheel that can be brought up at will, rather than a list of adjectives that are always onscreen. Best of all, for those who prefer the retro charm, you can easily swap on the fly between the remastered version and the original music and graphics with the push of a button. Although I preferred to play the remastered version, I was very impressed with how fluidly the game is able to make the transition between the two styles.
The puzzles in Day of the Tentacle Remastered are fun, without being exceedingly taxing. When you find an item, it may not be immediately apparent as to where it can be used, especially since you're dealing with three characters in three different environments. Some of the items can even be used for multiple tasks. Fortunately, most of the items can be swapped between characters by flushing them down the temporal toilet. I don't want to spoil any of the puzzles or their solutions in this review, but suffice it to say that there are plenty of "aha!" moments when you finally realize what to do with that pesky item that's been burning a hole in your pocket.
To an old school gamer like myself, Day of the Tentacle Remastered carries a lot of nostalgia for the golden age of Adventure games. But, it also holds up as a great game that can appeal to a new generation of players. The puzzles, the story, and the characters remain as fun and entertaining as they've always been, while the improved audio/visual presentation takes everything to new heights. I enjoyed every minute of the (approximately) six hours it took for me to beat the game, and I'll gladly play it again sometime. This time, hopefully, it won't take me another 20 years to do so.
A PC copy of Day of the Tentacle Remastered was provided to us by the fine folks over at Double Fine Productions.
- Entertaining story and characters
- Fun puzzles
- Beautifully updated visuals
- I only wish there was more of it!