Version Tested On: PS4
Available On: PC, PS4, PS Vita and OS X
Where To Buy: Steam, Apple Store, PlayStation Store
It is hard to believe that Day of The Tentacle is now 23 years old and yet a whole generation of gamers have not had the opportunity to play one of the defining entries in the adventure game genre. Following in the footsteps of Grim Fandango Remastered, Double Fine Production have refined the Lucasarts classic and brought the title to the PlayStation, PC and OS X. Created by some of the most recognizable and influential developers in the industry such as Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman and Rod Gilbert; Day of the Tentacle, maybe with the assistance of its time traveling narrative, has barely aged a day.
Day of the Tentacle is the sequel to Maniac Mansion (Which can be played in its entirety via an in game Easter egg) and retains the philosophy from adventure games such as Monkey Island and Indiana Jones and The Fate of Atlantis. This time we have the added complexity of controlling three separate and very distinct characters. The nervous nerd Bernard, the surfing rocker Hoagie and Laverne the ditzy but adorable genius are the leads. The protagonists are lured ‘Back to the Mansion’ after Purple Tentacle (a living, disembodied tentacle) consumes some toxic waste and becomes hell-bent on world domination. With the help of the dangerously experimental Dr. Fred Edison, our heroes intend to travel into past to prevent the occurrence from taking place. After a system malfunction, which transpires whilst are friends are literally surfing the time stream, our protagonists are separated. Bernard returns to the present day whilst Hoagie and Laverne are sent two hundred years into the past and future respectively.
Anyone who has played an adventure game before will feel familiar in DOTT. You aim to get from point A to point B but you should expect a number of diversions and obstacles to make your destination feel like point Z. By exploring, conversing and observing; you will embark upon a journey filled with puzzles, unmatched wit and laugh out loud humor which is where DOTT shines.
Being able to alternate between these three characters adds a level of complexity not only to the narrative, but the riddles too. As Hoagie is stranded in the past, his actions will have a substantial effect of both Bernard and Laverne’s environments. Convincing someone in the past to cut down a tree will result in Laverne, who in the future is trapped in the tree, being set free. It is not simply Hoagie manipulating the timeline for everyone else’s benefit though as items can be passed to one another through the time traveling portaloo aptly named the ‘Chron-O-John’. This means that future inventions or objects can be delivered to the past to assist with issues in that era. In one puzzle Hoagie requires vinegar, so by using a time capsule, he buries some wine he had recently gathered. Four hundred years later, the wine ages into vinegar and is obtained by Laverne who sends in once more, back to Hoagie.
These mechanics make the puzzles more fun and varied than ever, but they can become dastardly tricky. The remaster has no inclusion of a hint system, which is a shame as the remake of Monkey Island did, which welcomed newcomers to the series. Thankfully, having played the game as a young child, I remembered a number of the puzzles. Giving George Washington an explosive cigar, sending his dentures flying and then in turn replacing them with chattering teeth from the future, giving the impression he was cold, is one such riddle. This made perfect sense to me, but could leave another absolutely baffled without assistance from the game.
Puzzles aside, the time periods enable the narrative and characters to be more creative than ever. Two hundred years in the past, you will meet the forefathers of the USA including Ben Franklin and the previously mentioned George Washington. These characters are not portrayed as the iconic figures we associate them with in modern times, but more eccentric versions of themselves. Franklin is not quite the visionary inventor we know and Washington may be guilty of some of the myths surrounding him. In the future, where tentacles have taken over the world and treat humans like common pets, add a contrasting yet equally engrossing setting. This dystopia includes shows where humans are judged on their smile, hair and sense of humor only for their tentacle owners to reap the rewards.
As outlandish as these scenarios are, they are brought to life by the hilarious script. Every single conversation is enjoyable and more often than not, you are given the option to say a witty or smart-arse response which never goes unnoticed by the recipient. Hearing the twins retort with blunt, unamused responses or watching as Weird Ed tried to restrain his temper, kept me pleasantly engaged.
Music accompanies each scene and you will hear the score inspired by traditional American or British anthems as you transition between settings. The voice work is great as Hoagie’s laid back attitude or the menacing purple tentacle would not be able to achieve these personas without well executed scripts and committed voice work. Day of The Tentacle is hilarious and this is a tricky feat to accomplish not only in a video game, but with a twenty three year old piece of work. The production of the audio is commendable as it all sounds crisp and clear even with the recordings being a couple of decades old.
The term remaster is used far too often as of late and some deserve a second outing far more than others. Day of The Tentacle absolutely deserves to be witnessed, not only by a new generation, but for nostalgic gamers like myself. The visuals look fresh and colorful with great animations and varied locales. When I recall playing the game as a child, I remember it looking just as it does in the remastered version but this is not the case. On the fly, you can switch back to how the game originally looked in 1993 and although the groundwork is there, it can look terribly pixelated. The remaster has done a great job of keeping the artistic vision they had without the restrictions of the old hardware. I do wish they had reworked the lip syncing though. As the visuals are much clearer now, the lip movements to match the articulate dialogue simply do not coincide. This keeps the game looking dated at times and may look odd to newcomers with modern day expectations.
Another feature of the remaster is the included developer’s commentary. Hearing Tim Schafer and company talk about scenes and puzzles is not only informative but enjoyable. This inclusion is definitely included for returning players as some of the commentary will overlap key in game moments however, hearing why a puzzle was created in a certain way, or the struggles they encountered when creating a piece of music for a scene is brilliant. It also helps that they are all amusing and witty people to listen to.
The remaster does have a few technical issues, though. Aside from the lack of a hint system and detailed facial animations, the game can lag between scenes or at the end of the dialogue. All of the action on screen will pause for a few seconds and it bothered me. I would expect a remastered version of a game which ran perfectly 20 years ago to be faultless on the powerful PS4.
Day of The Tentacle is a classic and even after all this time, the characters and puzzles have remained with me, so much so that picking up the game felt as though no time had passed since my last encounter. There are few pieces of entertainment which have been so impressionable upon me and I am ecstatic that I had another chance to relive those memories. Day of The Tentacle has been well serviced and old school fans will be pleased to see that the same, enjoyable experience remains. Newcomers may feel heedful towards the complex puzzles but you owe it to yourself as a gamer to play Day of The Tentacle. Not only will you enjoy this adventure but you will relive a piece of history which elevated the creators into pioneers of the industry.
- Gameplay: Puzzle Based Point and Click Adventure Game
- Graphics: Remastered Smooth Visual, Poor Lip Syncing
- Sound: Great Music, SFX and Voice Work
- Presentation: True To The Original and Aged Extremely Well
- Hilarious Writing
- Interesting Concept
- True To The Original
- Complex Puzzles
- Performance Issues
- No Hint System