Adventure games have been having a revival lately. The Monkey Island series had its first two titles remastered, Broken Age weaved a brand new tale, and Grim Fandango Remastered was released just last year. Having played each of the above, I was simultaneously eager and wary of Day of the Tentacle Remastered. The hope was that the game would have that trademark fun and humour found in Double Fine’s other titles; the fear, that it would fall far from what I thought were the best and funniest adventure titles. As it turns out, there was no need for fear.
Day of the Tentacle Remastered tells the story of Bernard Bernoulli and his friends Hoagie and Laverne. The three stumble into a time-travelling mission to stop a power hungry purple tentacle, named Purple Tentacle, who wants to take over the world. Why does he want to take over the world? Well, because he drank some polluted water, which gave him images of grandeur, of course. Taking place with the trio of friends stranded across three time periods, the hapless protagonists interact with a bizarre cast, with Hoagie causing mayhem for the United States’ founding fathers, and Laverne being captured in a future where humans are pets for their overlord tentacles. Wading through the insanity, they have to piece together the puzzles in their surroundings in order to save the world.
The title is crawling with zany humour: Thomas Jefferson countermands each “Tom” and “Tommy” Hoagie throws at him, by calmly saying that his name is Thomas; Bernard gives keys to a car thief in exchange for a crowbar; Laverne is called hideous as a human, but stunning when dressed as a tentacle. There are plenty of moments in which you’ll find yourself laughing out loud. The humour here is right up with the likes of Monkey Island though, in comparison, it does lack a standout protagonist, like Guybrush Threepwood, to grow attached to. This is perhaps because the main role has been split between three heroes, and focusing on one charcater would probably have fixed this minor issue, but that would have ruined the wonderfully manic story.
The art style matches the humour marvelously, more so even than any of its peers and predecessors. The game’s colourful appearance looks like a Saturday morning cartoon, and could give the impressive South Park: Stick of Truth a run for its money. The characters themselves are wonderfully drawn and are visually interesting; seeing the nerdy Bernard smile awkwardly, after scathing narrowly through a situation, will bring a smile to your face. The voice acting also deserves a special mention, with Laverne’s tangential rantings benefiting greatly from a bizarre voice.
At any point in the title you can switch the visuals back and forth from the new game to the original with the touch of a button, and here it becomes abundantly clear how much the 23-year-old title has been polished. Unlike Grim Fandango, which had precise touch ups, and both Monkey Islands, which received major overhauls, Day of the Tentacle strikes a great balance by being much crisper and smoother than its original while still maintaining its charm. Also of note is the new music, which has been revamped from that of its predecessor. You can also listen to the interesting directors’ commentary at any point, with the team providing some wonderful insights into the work put into both the original and the remastering.
It’s evident that a lot of work has also gone into revamping the gameplay. I’d never played a point-and-click title on a console before, and, prior to playing this, I’d say that doing so would be sacrilegious. The PS4 version worked effortlessly for me, and the controls actually managed to feel as intuitive as using a mouse. The left analog stick moves around the cursor, the square button allows you to choose what to do with your target, and the d-pad can be used to switch between characters and to display interactive objects. It’s as smooth as any modern title.
The puzzles themselves are standard for what you see normally in any adventure game. Picking up every object you can is a good strategy, and, thankfully, finding out what you need to do with the objects isn’t nearly as obtuse as it can be in certain adventure games. A keen mind and eye will get you through without having to resort to any online guides. This isn’t to say the game is too easy. Objects can be passed between characters who are in different periods, and it can be hard to get to grips with everything in your three inventories. Some people will bemoan the lack of a hint system, but many hints can be found throughout the world, with characters often emphasising what needs to be done and how to do it. Nevertheless, a hint system wouldn’t have gone amiss, especially for those unfamiliar with the now atypical point-and-click games.
The length of the game is directly related to how efficiently you tackle the puzzles. It took me 9 hours to get through it, but many of those involved wandering around looking for missed objects. It’s possible to sprint through the title in under an hour when you know what needs to be done. Although, wandering blindly can actually quite fun, and the trophies reward you for experimenting. For example, trying to put the hamster in a microwave after its been defrosted will get you a trophy. It adds to the replay value of a title that you probably will only play through one time; puzzle games always lose purpose when you know their solutions.
This is probably one of the bulkier adventure games, based largely on the fact that you can play its predecessor, the brilliant Maniac Mansion, in the game. Simply using the computer in crazy Ed’s room sends you into the near 29 year-old point-and-click game. If you struggle with adventure games, think they’re inaccessible, and crave something easier, well, this isn’t for you. There are dead ends, character deaths, and multiple routes to contend with here. Nevertheless, it is actually really fun and enjoyable challenge. The script is humorous, the puzzles are clever, and the environments and characters are colourful. There are also majestic tentacles, a chainsaw, and… cooking.
Day of the Tentacle Remastered has continued the revival of adventure games, and shows how remasters should be done. It’s colourful graphics have allowed the title to age gracefully, its script is hilarious, and the gameplay is challenging but enjoyable. It has some minor shortcomings due to splitting the plot between three protagonists, instead of concentrating on one, and the lack of a hint system, which may irritate those new to the genre. Though, this is definitely knit picking a brilliantly renovated classic. Day of the Tentacle Remastered isn’t just a game that adventure game fans should play, but all gamers as well.
A brilliant renovation of a classic title.
Day of the Tentacle Remastered is one of the finest games to come out of Double Fine. The story and gameplay it brings from the original is some of the best seen in its genre, and the remastering enhances everything brilliantly.