Day of the Tentacle was originally released as a sequel to Maniac Mansion and was widely received as a funny, original title that epitomized the adventure genre. That was 23 years ago. In 1993 Day of the Tentacle had witty jokes and great writing, but could those hold up in 2016? Thankfully, Day of the Tentacle is still filled with great jokes that range from morbid and deep to slapstick and silly.
Remastering old adventure games is nothing new. Double Fine has been on a tear recently, gathering up titles that Tim Schaefer worked on during his time with Lucasarts and remastering them for the modern age. This remastering process typically includes a graphical facelift, and some minor control tweaks for easier playing on consoles. Day of the Tentacle follows that same formula as the graphics have been updated to a more cartoon-like quality. Fans of the original title will be happy to know that pressing the PS4 touchpad at any time changes the game’s graphics and audio to the originals. It’s a neat trick that Double Fine has done in their previous adventure games but it’s still a welcomed feature in their newest addition to the catalogue.
For those of you who, like me, were too young or too busy to play the original game, The Day of the Tentacle is a quintessential adventure game through and through. It focuses around three main characters; Bernard, Hoagie, and Laverne. After a loose, purple tentacle drinks some radioactive wastes and shows signs of intelligence and a desire to rule the world, the friends decide to save the world. How do they plan to do so, you ask? Well obviously they use a not-so-safe time machine from a local mad scientist that ends with each of the three characters being in different time periods. Players then spend their time solving puzzles in each of the three time periods; colonial times, the present, and the future, which happens to be a world ruled by the tentacle.
The characters soon realize they can transfer items between the three time periods using the time machine pods that ended up in each time period. From there, the game becomes one of finding objects in one period and sending them to another. Like most Double Fine games, the true joy isn’t in solving puzzles but in advancing the story and enjoying the dialogue.
Day of the Tentacle is an absolute joy of a game. Its dialogue and jokes are both witty and enjoyable despite being written over 20 years ago. Whether Hoagie, a relaxed rocker, is chatting up the founding fathers or crazed Laverne is being held hostage, you’ll always be smiling, if not laughing. I’ve never found Double Fine adventure games to be overbearingly difficult with regards to their puzzles and Day of the Tentacle follows the same trend. The puzzles are enjoyable and figuring out what item is needed by which party member adds to the humor of the game, as some of the puzzle solutions are humorous and outlandish. My favorite puzzles involved using the time travel mechanic in smart ways. For instance, one puzzles has you in need of vinegar but in order to get it you need to send wine into the future so it turns to vinegar and then send the vinegar back in a rather appropriate way.
Day of the Tentacle adds some smart mechanics such as the use of a radial wheel as a way to interact with objects in the world. This leads to an easier way of selecting what you want to do with an object than a word menu. If I had to nitpick, the hint system that Double Fine has added to other games does not return in this title and that can be rather unfortunate for new players. As someone who has played a lot of Double Fine adventure titles, I am familiar with the logic the games use in their puzzles. I could easily see new players getting a bit confused with the logic this game uses, though a bit of thinking will clear up any confusion, and guides exist for just that reason. The hint system in the Monkey Island remakes was hailed as a great way for new players to enjoy the beloved stories of these adventure games without getting bogged down in adventure-game tropes. I realize adventure games aren't for everyone, and the hint system is the perfect way to address that fact. It's a shame the system doesn't show up in Day of the Tentacle.
Overall there isn’t much to say about Day of the Tentacle: Remastered that you haven’t heard about other Double Fine games of this nature. They done a wonderful job bringing a 23-year-old game into the modern age and they’ve done so with class and skill. Day of the Tentacle: Remastered is the next game in a long line of successful updates from Double Fine, and it does a lot to show that adventure games still have a place in the growing library of games and genres.