It was my cousin’s birthday. He sat down at the table as my relatives/his family began to give him gifts. One gift stood out, as it was in an odd shape. My cousin opened up the wrapping and there it was. The newest game from Lucas Arts, Day of the Tentacle. Later that night we ripped open the shrink wrap, pulled out the manual (and hint book!), and loaded up the game. We spent the night traversing time, sending objects through toilets and laughing our butts off … I was six. Flash forward over 20 years and Double Fine Productions is re-releasing Day of the Tentacle in a new, remastered package. Does the game hold up? How does it control on consoles? And most importantly, what the heck do you do with that darn crank?
Day of the Tentacle Remastered is an HD overhaul of the 1993 graphic adventure game of the same name. It’s is the sequel to 1987’s incredibly influential game, Maniac Mansion. Players will follow Bernard Bernoulli (one of the selectable characters from the original) and his friends Hoagie and Laverne as they attempt to stop the evil Purple Tentacle from taking over the world.
The story is definitely one of the highlights of Day of the Tentacle. You’ll travel between three different times periods and meet crazy characters in each of them. I’ve always enjoyed the writing of Dave Grossman, Tim Schafer, Ron Gilbert, and Gary Winnick and Day of the Tentacle might be one of their finest works. The game does such a wonderful job of introducing you to characters (both familiar and new) in interesting and crazy ways. From George Washington to Purple tentacle, DotT oozes with personality.
As with the majority of point-and-click adventure games, you’ll move around from screen to screen, interacting with the environment. You’ll have numerous actions that you’ll be able to take with each one of these interactables. Do you “pull” or “push” the the picture hanging on the wall? Do you “use” the Hamster and combine it with the Left Handed Hammer? There’s a surprising amount of depth with how many actions that are available for each interactable element.
One design choice that I really liked in DotT Remastered was that, with a simple press of a button, you can see every item that’s interactable on a given screen. I remember playing these games when I was younger and getting frustrated clicking on everything in a room trying to get it to do something. It’s a nice addition and will save players some time.
Double Fine has done a good job with bringing the game into the modern era
As usual, with many old adventure games, some of the puzzles and their solutions are obtuse. While it might not be the “solution” that is, it’s the order of operations that can trip you up. For instance, if you try to pick up the chattering teeth before doing another thing in that room, then you’ll never be able to grab them. That being said, it is 2016, so if you ever get stuck, you have the benefit of the internet to help guide you (though, try to figure out the puzzles by yourself / with friends first).
DotT is a great game to have other people in the room with you as you play. They’ll be laughing at the humor, and they’ll also be able to give you suggestions for the puzzles. For me, it was my little sister. Some of my favorite moments came when she would yell a suggestion at me. “Use the crank on that,” “Combine the Hamster with the fake barf.” So on and so forth.
A problem that arises when you play one of these remastered games is, how enjoyable are they if you remember a majority of the solutions. DotT is not a long game. If you’ve played it before and remember all of the solutions, you can easily blast through it in about an hour and a half. That being said, newcomers will have a longer experience as they talk to every character, ponder every solution, and ultimately try and save the world.
there’s no substitute for the mouse controls. They just feel a lot smoother.
Double Fine has done a good job with bringing the game into the modern era. The new hand-drawn, high definition artwork is wonderful, and the game’s music and sound effects have all been redone as well. Just like in Grim Fandango Remastered, you can easily switch between the old game’s visuals and the remastered’s with a press of a button. Also available is a commentary track that plays at specific points in the game (this can be turned on/off) and a concept art gallery. I played the game once normally and then again with the commentary on. The commentary is a good time and gives a lot of insight in what exactly went into making DotT.
Day of the Tentacle was originally released on the PC. There, it benefitted from the PC’s mouse controls. While I think the game plays okay on controller (reviewed the game on PC, using an Xbox controller — which, the game only shows the PS4 button layout — for obvious reasons), there’s no substitute for the mouse controls. They just feel a lot smoother.
That being said, here are some implementations the controller uses. If you press SQUARE on an interactable object, it will bring up a radial wheel that has the numerous available options you’re able to select for each interactable. Using the Left joystick, you select the one you want. Pressing UP on the D-Pad highlights all of the interactable objects in the environment that you’re in. TRIANGLE brings up your inventory, and there’s a fast select option using the R1/L1 buttons. The controls work well enough and Double Fine really thought through a lot of technical things to make the game play faster than a normal point-and-click adventure game. I still think mouse is the way to go though.
So, who is Day of the Tentacle Remastered for? I’d say if you’re a fan of the original and want to revisit it, go ahead. It’s still the same “zany” (actual box quote — referencing the sound effects) game that you remember, with the characters you love. For new players who are fans of old school adventure games, I think DotT is a must play. This being the first game Tim Schafer (Double Fine’s Founder) co-led, you can definitely see where his “style” began to take shape.
DotT Remastered is a fun and ambitious adventure game. The HD visuals, enhanced audio, and new controls make it easier for a modern player to grasp, and they all come together in an enjoyable way. Sure, you’ll probably get stuck on a puzzle or two while playing, but don’t be afraid to look for help. But if you’re not in a rush I think Day of the Tentacle Remastered is a fun way to spend a few hours.
A PC copy of Day of the Tentacle Remastered was provided by the developer. To learn more about our score, read our review policy.