There was something refreshing about re-visiting the classic point and click adventure Day Of The Tentacle in its recently released remastered form. I played it when I was younger, a few years after it initially released in 1993, and even though it’s not the most difficult of the classic Lucas Arts adventure games my young mind just wasn’t able to wrap my head around the game’s puzzles. I guess my eight year old self just thought the Tentacles were cool, a sentiment that still stands true today.
Now I’m an educated adult (although I am using that term very loosely) and I’m finally able to solve some of those enigmas that perplexed me all those years ago, I can appreciate Day Of The Tentacle: Remastered for what it really is – a fantastic adventure that shows that the point and click genre will never, ever grow old.
Day Of The Tentacle: Remastered is set five years after its predecessor Maniac Mansion. It begins with mad scientist Dr. Fred Edison’s tentacle pets Green Tentacle and Purple Tentacle examining some toxic sludge that’s coming from Dr. Fred’s laboratory. Purple Tentacle decides to drink some of this sludge and in turn grows a pair of arms and sets on a path for world domination. Bare with me – I know this sound utterly bizarre, but you wouldn’t expect anything less from the team behind the likes of Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion?
In an effort to rid the world of the Purple Tentacle’s evil ways, Dr. Fred decides that he needs to kill both tentacles. After capturing them both, Green Tentacle sends a message requesting help to his old friend and Maniac Mansion’s stereotypical nerd, Bernard Bernoulli. Bernard returns to Dr. Fred’s lab accompanied by two of his friends and saves Green Tentacle, but in turn also frees Purple Tentacle who goes back to his perilous, world dominating ways. Bummer.
In an effort to prevent the world dominating catastrophe occurring, Dr. Fred attempts to send Bernard and his friends back in time to stop Purple Tentacle ever drinking the toxic sludge. Things don’t go to plan though, with all three of them ending up in different time periods. Bernard is stuck in the present day, his rock and roll roadie pal Hoagie ends up 200 years in the past whilst the slightly tapped medical student Laverne is sent 200 years into the future. Thus, the time swapping point and click adventure begins…
The game’s story is insane, anarchic, bizarre… I’m literally reading from a thesaurus here – let’s just say its nuts. Most importantly though is that it’s entertaining from start to finish, full of well written jokes that are just as funny now as they were back in 1993. The game depends mightily on its jokes, so it’s fortunate that they’ve aged so well. The whole game is oozing with the ‘Cartoon Network’ vibe, offering not only the same sort of humour but also a visual style that is reminiscent of some of its much loved cartoons.
Day Of The Tentacle: Remastered’s main change is the improved visuals. Everything in the game has been completely re-drawn in nice, shiny HD. Nothing about the design has been changed either – in fact, you can switch back and fore between the modernised visuals and the classic graphics with the simple press of a button. The 1993 edition hasn’t really aged well with it’s over-pixelated look, but fortunately the artists over at Double Fine have done a great job at re-creating the visuals for the modern age. It’s full of bright colours, fluid animations and it certainly allows you to appreciate the wacky world in which the game is set in a lot more.
Another impressive improvement is with the quality of the game’s audio. Double Fine managed to get hold of the original master copies of the game’s audio and improved it with modern technology, bringing the classic voice acting and music that fans loved when the game originally released and improving the quality and clarity. It does come at one expense though – given Day Of The Tentacle: Remastered’s improvement in visuals, it’s all the more noticeable that the voice acting doesn’t quite sync up with character mouth movements. It’s a minor qualm, but I know there are some gamers out there who get really bothered about that sort of thing.
Of course the most important element of a point and click adventure game is within its puzzles – an area in which Day Of The Tentacle: Remastered truly excels. It’s worth noting that the puzzles in Day Of The Tentacle: Remastered are nowhere near as obscure as the likes of Grim Fandango, the other classic point and click adventure that Double Fine had recently remastered. I haddn’t long played that when I started Day Of The Tentacle: Remastered, so it was refreshing to not have to consult a walkthrough every time I was completely stumped by what felt like solution-less puzzles. I’m not knocking Grim Fandango by any means – you’re just going to have an easier time here.
That doesn’t mean that Day Of The Tentacle: Remastered won’t have you scratching your head though, hopelessly trying to figure out some of the puzzles by combining every item you own with every object in the environment. We’ve all done it, right?! The same classic point and click formula is used here with an assortment of items being used in what are often ridiculous ways. The one big gameplay hook that Day Of The Tentacle: Remastered has though is that you’re able to send objects between each time period. Something Hoagie has found 200 years in the past might be of no use for him, but maybe Laverne will find some use for it in her dystopian future? You’ll be sending items back and fore between time periods a lot and sometimes it’ll come with odd consequences that might be beneficial to you. Swapping between the three main characters on the fly certainly adds an all new element to a genre that had been traditionally spent with just one character – the fact they’re split between three time periods makes it all the more entertaining.
Despite the different time periods, everything takes place in the same location of Dr. Fred’s Motel home. Of course, it’s changed over the years – 200 years in the past it was being used by the Founding Fathers to write the United States Constitution (of which you can contribute to might I add), whilst 200 years in the future it’s being used by Purple Tentacle as a base from which he can rule mankind. Everything’s completely different between each time period, making the world of Day Of The Tentacle: Remastered a treat to explore.
In true ‘remastered’ fashion, the game comes with a bunch of bonus extras for you to check out. A particular favourite of mine was the developer commentary with original creators Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman, Larry Ahern, Peter Chan, Peter McConnell and Clint Bajakian. It’s interesting to see what was going on in these guy’s minds when they were coming up with some of the bizarre situations and puzzles that are present in the game. There’s also a selection of concept art to check out too.
I loved my time with Day Of The Tentacle: Remastered, especially since I was actually able to solve the puzzles in the game this time around. It features a story that’ll entertain from start to finish, new flashier visuals that spark a breath of life into the game and classic puzzles that are best described as timeless. Point and click games aren’t for everyone, but those who want to check out one of the genre’s greatest achievements should look no further than Day Of The Tentacle: Remastered. Tentacles need not apply, though…
– Fantastic remastered graphics and audio
– An entertaining plot full of jokes that are genuinely funny
– Clever, time-bending puzzles
– There’s a tentacle trying to take over the world, what more do you want?!
– Voice acting doesn’t sync with mouth movements
– Some of the scenes in the past require a knowledge of American History to fully appreciate