Back in the 90’s gamers got to witness some real interesting software. There were no true standards or expectations of what a AAA title meant, so you were given a plethora of oddities to choose from. Day of the Tentacle Remastered rings that bell loud and clear. Immeasurable joy comes from hearing and seeing the humor, design, and cultural references of 20 plus years ago relive itself. Like an antique, even with its cracks and chips, you can still find it in your heart to appreciate its luster.
Developed originally by LucasArts in 1993 and then remastered by Tim Schafer and Double Fine Studios, Day of the Tentacle at its core is a point-and-click puzzle adventure journey. It’s follows three main characters separated by time, as they team up to stop an evil tentacle from taking over Earth. What Double Fine did to rejuvenate this game is quite exceptional. All the visuals are now hand-drawn crisp cartoon artwork and the audio was completely rebuffed. They even added a feature where you can instantly go back to the original visuals and audio just by pressing the touchpad. The story is not always easy to work through and grasp, but is extremely lighthearted and entertaining. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that years ago we played games without the spoils we have today, like objective markers, maps, or hints. With that being said, none of this peels away from Day of the Tentacle’s merits.
The gameplay centers around switching back and forth between your three main characters. After a botched attempt trying to send our team to the past to stop the tentacle from worldly destruction, they are launched into different periods of time. Bernard, a typical nerd, is kept in the present time. His rocker-roadie grunge friend, Hoagie, is sent 200 years in the past. Leaving the final piece to the trio, Laverne, our spaced out friend who is catapulted 200 years in the future. Your goal is to explore, talk to everybody, gather supplies and items throughout your surroundings, and send them to your zany crew to help reconstruct their time machines to get them back and stop the evil tentacle. One of the biggest challenges I faced in Day of the Tentacle was knowing what to do, when to do it, and who I should be doing it with. Although the rewarding sensation cannot be denied when all the pieces begin to come together. Characters and items finally revealing their use and purpose, made me just as happy as hearing the Edison boys go at it about their sculpture skills. I quickly remembered that back in the elementary years of gaming not much was explained to the player. It was time-consuming experimentations of trial and error. It’s weird but it made me appreciate how far the genre and gaming overall has grown, and tempted me to take on the task of solving this tale the classic way.
The controls are set up in the standard point and click format mostly. Where Day of the Tentacle differs is that it offers a lot of options to manipulate objects within its environments. By pressing the square button, a function wheel pops up giving you choices to pick up the object, push, pull, open, close, combine, ect. It’s where you begin to feel like you can easily fall off track. The possibilities increase as the ability to combine objects become available. Now, multiple options are at your disposal to solve problems that can only be solved one way. Cycling through your inventory and characters is done competently. While the game may be older, the controls and layout still felt modern and easy to pick up on. You can really see the difference in the revamped layout when you switch back to the original release presentation. After one minute or so I jumped to the modern version and stayed there.
Double Fine really pulled no stops when it came to remastering Day of the Tentacle graphically. While admittedly this game didn’t look as horrifying as other titles do when you revisit them in their original glory, it really shines now. The switch to hand drawn cartoon animations really showcase the quirky and funky stylings that this game relays. The colors pop, and help bring life to its story. It looks just as if you were watching a weird 90’s cartoon on your television. Adding the feature of reverting to the original game was an excellent idea because it really brings home how great of an effort was put into this remaster. Most games now just throw the “Remaster” title on the box in hopes for a quick cash grab, you can tell Day of the Tentacle was given genuine love and effort.
I don’t always get honest moments of laughter when I play games. This one gave me more than a few. Maybe it was the throwback to my childhood, maybe it was the stereotypical grunge and stoner references, or possibly the utter cheesiness, but the dialogue really brought a smile to my face. I got a kick out of the characters and listening to the outlandish conversations they found themselves in. Especially the historical characters like George Washington and John Handcock, their banter in Hoagie’s portions are great. The sound effects deliver too, in a non traditional sense. Not something I thought I would ever write, but the toilet bowl flush sounds are dead on to the real thing. A compliment that seems so fitting for a game like Day of the Tentacle.
If you’re in the market for a throwback to classic point and click adventurers and don’t want to take too many of the aging components along with it, Day of the Tentacle Remastered is for you. No doubt its problem solving can be obtuse and unclear, but it’s a stamp that shows its classic nature. Sitting in the comfy pocket of 90’s nostalgia, it’s cheesy charm and challenge will keep the player thinking, sometimes baffled, and entertained.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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