By: Brian Gunn
A modern port of games like Day of the Tentacle and Grim Fandango seemed fairly unlikely a few short years ago. Like many LucasArts games, it seemed doomed to limbo, with no digital platforms hosting a copy. Thankfully in the last few years Disney has teamed up with Double Fine to bring audiences a few of those classics, with the latest being Day of the Tentacle Remastered.
While the point-and-click adventure genre has seen a semi-resurgence of late, it’s mostly a more casual, streamlined take on the genre when it comes to multiplatform titles. Day of the Tentacle Remastered is probably the most traditional entry to make its way to controllers, with even Grim Fandango at least affording direct player movement.
Instead of moving characters around, players move the cursor to interact. Players on PC will feel relatively at home with the mouse pointer, but the sheer amount of inventory and commands on a controller can feel a bit tedious.
With the word “remastered” in the title, a decent step up in visuals is expected, and Double Fine largely succeeded here. Gone is the rough pixel art in favor of a more cartoon drawing style.
Most of the redesigns appear based off bringing their old concept art to life, and while most of it looks good, there’s still a lot of charm in the old style, which players can switch to at any time. This also changes the UI, however, with the remastered style hiding the interaction verbs and inventory until needed versus the constant display in the original graphics.
Audio wise the game has not aged quite as well. Voice acting is a bit hit or miss, though I loved the odd performance behind Laverne. The actual quality of the recording, having been done ages ago, doesn’t do the actors many favors, either. Music works well generally, from the playful sci-fi themes to the hard rock needed to knock a piece of fake barf off a ceiling.
Day of the Tentacle Remastered takes place a few days after the events of Maniac Mansion, another classic LucasArts adventure title. While a sequel, the game works well enough as a standalone, even if there are a few jokes for the bigger fans.
A mad scientist has created a few sentient tentacles, with one set on taking over the world. In order to stop him, that scientist decides to use a poorly made time machine to go back before the tentacle mutated, but things go horribly wrong.
While series mainstay Bernard ends up in the present day, his friend Hoagie gets sent 200 years into the past and Laverne ends up 200 years in the future. Together, they’ll have to collect everything they find, combine it and use every random object on everything, like most classic adventure games.
The main twist here is in the time travel. As Hoagie, for instance, players can chop a tree down that was blocking Laverne 400 years later, allowing her to proceed.
Players can switch relatively freely between the three main characters, each of which have their own inventories and puzzles to solve independent of the time travel mechanics. The game allows a large amount of freedom to explore, encounter puzzles and collect items.
That freedom actually creates a few problems, however, as it’s very easy to stumble upon items hours before they’re needed and forget any possible uses they may have.
Of course that book you find at the start of the game would be required to bore a horse to sleep so you could steal its dentures for a beauty contest! That’s just common sense. So not only are you dealing with a huge inventory that can be used in three possible timelines, there are also a few puzzles that require fairly esoteric leaps in logic to proceed.
That freedom does have its benefits as well. Getting stuck on a puzzle in similar games in the genre can often mean just being generally stuck. With Day of the Tentacle Remastered, however, you can just switch characters and work on their puzzles.
Even then, each character will usually have multiple puzzles to tackle at once. So there’s always some sort of progress to be made, even if the method of solving some puzzles doesn’t become clear right away.
Day of the Tentacle Remastered is a very funny game, though I found it more of the ‘light chuckle’ sort of laugh scale than anything riotously funny. The titular tentacle is a fun antagonist, and Laverne and Bernard are enjoyable heroes. Hoagie feels a bit more one note and dated, but the rest of the oddball supporting cast works well.
Players looking for optional content will find a lot of concept art to unlock, as well as achievements centered around things like combining items that would make sense but don’t fit the puzzles. There’s also a developer’s commentary for those that want to get behind the scenes information. There’s even an Easter egg allowing an entire playthrough of the original Maniac Mansion.
There’s a reason Double Fine’s games have endured as cult classics for so long, Day of the Tentacle Remastered should cement the title’s place in gaming history while allowing future generations easier access to the title.