Day of the Tentacle Remastered Review

March 21st, 2016 by Caleb Cajthaml

I’m young. Very young. The first game I ever played was LEGO: Star Wars, and I can’t remember a time where point and click adventure games were ever popular. I do however, remember watching indie darling Machinarium grow a small but passionate fan base, and watching people get excited for Double Fine’s Broken Age, but aside from a few small exceptions, point and click adventure games might as well never existed. I love Telltale games, and the LEGO franchise is good fun, but I would barely consider them adventure games, let alone point and click adventure games.

That’s why Double Fine grabbed my attention when they announced a remake of the classic Day of the Tentacle. I knew Day of the Tentacle was considered a “must play” among those that had played it, and the fact that it was coming to PS4 only sweetened the deal.

This weekend I played Day of the Tentacle and the game hasn’t escaped my mind since.

I came into the game incredibly skeptical. Knowing Tim Schafer, I had confidence that the writing would be great, and I knew the art style would grab me, but as someone who’s never been into puzzle games, I didn’t think the game would be for me. What I found was an experience that was charming, clever, and funnier than anything I’ve ever played.

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Set five years after 1987’s Maniac Mansion, the game stars three protagonists, Bernard Bernoulli and his two friends, Hoagie and Laverne. After an attempt to go back in time to prevent Purple Tentacle, an evil genius fueled by the sludge behind Dr. Fred’s Mansion, goes awry the three friends are spread across 400 years, and have to find a way to get back to the present day AND still manage to go back in time to prevent Purple Tentacle from ever being created.

The concept leads to some truly incredible puzzles as one action made 200 years in the past can lead to a solution for a puzzle 200 years in the future. My favorite example of this can be found when Laverne needs a tentacle costume to fit in with the oppressive tentacles that now rule the world. Hoagie ends up telling Betsy Ross, the woman who designed the American flag, to shape it like a tentacle. 200 years in the future Laverne is able to retrieve the newly designed flag and wear it as a costume.

It’s puzzles like these that define Day of the Tentacle and make it stand out from the rest of the crowd. It demands clever and outside of the box thinking with a payoff that is both rewarding and often hilarious. But in many cases, the puzzles require thinking a bit too outside of the box. I often found myself frustrated and with no hint system beyond the dialogue of the characters that occupy the game. While most of the time the dialogue hints were often just enough to help me solve the puzzle, there were still some cases where I was completely lost with what my next step should be.

I’ve never been good at puzzle games, that’s why I’ve never been a fan of them, but a remake of a game made more than twenty years ago seems like the perfect opportunity to implement a hint system. The world was so well developed and interesting that when I hit a wall, it was all that much more frustrating.

I’m going to be honest and say that there were several times where I resorted to a walkthrough, and I’m glad I did, because once that stress was relieved I was able to enjoy the incredible world created by the team at LucasArts.

While playing Day of the Tentacle I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was playing a cartoon. The humorous writing, poppy art style, and the over the top animation all combine to create the most charming game I’ve played in a long time. Each character has their own unique quirks that set each other apart from the stereotypes they resemble only in appearance. The excellent dialogue makes Dr. Fred more than your typical mad scientist, and Bernard more than the nerd he looks like. Part of this is because of the excellent voice acting that still holds up today. Performances from Richard Sanders, Jane Jacobs, and Denny Delk add depth to the characters that would have been left out with text. 

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The dialogue was filled with some of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard in a game and had me laughing out loud, something I almost never do while playing a game alone. Each environment is beautifully realized and the animations bring the characters and object that fill them to life.

The new and improved graphics only serve to show how great the original game is. The remake is a nearly 1:1 recreation of the original. At any time during the game you can choose to pause the game and revert to the older graphics and music, and if you ever choose to do so you’ll be surprised by how similar to the original this remake is. It’s even possible to look at old concept art if you want to see just how similar the final game was to the original. Spoiler alert, they’re almost indistinguishable.

TvVGmzWzjYIY.878x0.Z-Z96KYqBut possibly my favorite feature added in this remake is the optional developer commentary. During my first play through I declined to play with the commentary, but during my second play through I turned on the developer’s remarks and was not disappointed. As a podcast addict, this commentary track that plays through the game is informative and funny and adds an entirely unique perspective to the game. I wanted to play through the game a second time regardless of the commentary, and the commentary was the most pleasant cherry on top.

Day of the Tentacle Remastered is a special game. One that charms its way into your heart and doesn’t leave. While the puzzles prove to be frustrating at times, they’re all so incredibly well designed and humorous that it’s hard to stay stressed for long. The game mimics a cartoon in the best of ways and that style is only refined by the fresh paint of coat applied in this remake. If you’ve already played Day of the Tentacle, the developer commentary makes the game just that much more replayable, and if you haven’t played the game, you’re one of the lucky ones that gets to discover this gem for the very first time.

Day of the Tentacle Remastered Receives a 9 out of 10.

This game was reviewed on a retail PS4 with a download code provided by the developers.

Caleb Cajthaml is a 15 year old who set dreams so large he needed to get started on them now. Passionate about making people happy Caleb loves to write about all things entertainment. You can find him on twitter @Caleb_Talks tweeting about the latest happenings in the Star Wars cannon and why the Vikings are the best team in football.