Back in the 90’s, LucasArts was a studio that could do no wrong when it came to PC games. One of their crowning achievements was 1993’s Day of the Tentacle. It had everything one could wish for in a point and click adventure – hefty doses of witty humor, challenging puzzles, a fun, cartoony art style and characters with a ton of personality. It’s routinely found at the top of many “best of” lists. The only issue was that, until now, the only way to play this classic game was to have an original copy on CD-ROM or floppy disk. For most of us, that’s not the preferred way to play PC games in 2016.
Luckily, DoubleFine has taken Day of the Tentacle and remastered it for a whole new generation. Updated visuals and sound, a developer commentary and many more improvements await players in this new digital release that’s available on Steam, GOG and PSN. I had the opportunity to experience this charming adventure, so let’s dive right in and see how well it has aged.
The story in Day of the Tentacle beings five years after the events in Maniac Mansion. Speaking of which, you’ve played Maniac Mansion, right? If you haven’t, you’re in luck because the full game is hidden somewhere inside Day of the Tentacle Remastered. Pretty cool!
Okay, so back to our story. The mad scientist Dr. Fred Edison has created a mutant monster dubbed Purple Tentacle. And yes, he IS in fact, a purple tentacle. It sounds strange, but all is well in the world until Purple Tentacle decides to take a drink of some toxic sludge from a river behind Dr. Edison’s laboratory. The sludge causes him to mutate and grow a pair of flipper-like arms, develop vastly increased intelligence and worst of all, a thirst for global domination. This is bad. This is really bad.
Enter our protagonists Laverne, Bernard, and Hoagie. The trio, along with Dr. Edison, attempt to use a time machine to go back and prevent Purple Tentacle from indulging in the toxic sludge. But because Dr. Edison cheaped out and used an imitation diamond rather than a real one to power the time machine, there ends up being a major mechanical malfunction. Hoagie is sent 200 years into the past, Laverne is sent 200 years into the future, and Bernard ends up staying in the present. So now there’s a broken time machine to contend with, in addition to an evil tentacle.
Like most all adventure games, the majority of Day of the Tentacle Remastered can be played with just a mouse. Players point and click the mouse to move characters around, and then click on various inventory items to combine and/or use them. Much of the game involves solving puzzles that help each character repair his or her respective time machine and hopefully, stop Purple Tentacle from taking over the world. There’s a lot of switching back and forth between characters and sending inventory items to each other via a fancy toilet called a Chron-o-John. And like many 90’s adventures, the puzzles are a bit more challenging than what you’ll find in modern point-and-clicks, but trust me when I say you’ll be having so much fun you won’t care. I was smiling from start to finish.
The original 2D cartoony visuals in Day of the Tentacle were great in their own right, so basically what the devs did for the remaster was use the same original assets and recreate them in a higher resolution. The results look pretty spectacular! For the purists out there or those who simply want to see the original graphics, the game does allow players to switch back and forth between the old and new style at any time.
The inventory system has also been reworked, and in my opinion is more intuitive. Still, if you prefer the original style or just want to compare old and new, it’s easy to switch back and forth.
Like the graphics, the sound has had a big upgrade as well. The entire soundtrack has been redone and emulated with iMuse style dynamic music, and there’s also a developer’s commentary with original creators Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman, Larry Ahern, Peter Chan, Peter McConnell and Clint Bajakian!
There’s a reason Day of the Tentacle is such a beloved game. Everything about it is top-notch, from the charming graphics, to the excellent voice acting, to the never-ending humor. DoubleFine has given the Remaster enough modern upgrades to make it look and play great in 2016, without taking away from the elements that made it a hit back in 1993. It’s a highly customizable user experience, complete with mix and match options for old and new play styles. The PlayStation versions support cross-buy/cross-save and there are plenty of achievements to keep you busy through multiple playthroughs. This is a must play for anyone remotely interested in adventure games.