Having enjoyed Double Fine’s last two Vita games, (Grim Fandango Remastered and Broken Age) I found myself eagerly anticipating the release of Day of the Tentacle Remastered – although I knew practically nothing about the twenty-three year old game.
Originally released in 1993, Day of the Tentacle is a point and click adventure game with three playable characters – the nerdy Bernard, Hoagie the roadie, and oddball medical student Laverne. When one of Dr. Fred’s mutant lab assistants, Purple tentacle, develops a hunger for world domination after consuming some toxic sludge that is being pumped out of the back of Fred’s laboratory, Dr. Fred decides the only way to deal with this situation is to kill both the Purple tentacle and his brother, the friendly Green tentacle. Green tentacle makes a cry for help to Bernard, and when Bernard and co. come to the rescue the Purple tentacle escapes.
It is decided that the only way to stop the Purple tentacle is to go back in time to the previous day using time machines/port-a-loos called the Chron-o-John that Dr. Fred has invented. These breakdown, sending Hoagie 200 years into the past, Laverne 200 years into the future and leaving Bernard in the present day. Here is where the game begins and you take control of the crazy, cartoon-like characters.
Even though the three friends have been split across time periods, you will soon learn that the only way to progress through the game is to work together to solve the various puzzles that you are faced with. You can switch between the characters by using either the in-game item menu or by using the left and right buttons on the Vita’s d-pad, and by doing this you can play through the game in almost any order you like. This can work exceptionally well. If – for example – you get bamboozled by one puzzle, you can then switch characters and continue down their story arc, coming back to the problematic puzzle a little later on. I found myself using this option often, as some of the puzzles in Day of the Tentacle will leave you scratching your head for answers!
Another mechanic that I enjoyed in the game was the fact that you could share items picked up between the three characters, sending them through time by flushing them down the Chron-o-John. This leads to situations where you will find yourself sending things back in time to Hoagie (or freezing hamsters for Laverne to find in the future 😉 ) in order for him to use the item to change how the future pans out – creating solutions to puzzles that span the gap in time. I thought this worked really well, and (combined with the humour that is common throughout Tim Schafer/Lucas Arts games) made for some great scenes that will leave a lasting impression!
Speaking of scenes, Day of the Tentacle Remastered‘s have been given one heck of a polish. In a similar fashion to that of Grim Fandango Remastered, Double Fine have included an option that allows you to switch between the graphics of the original ’93 release (which don’t look too bad) and the beautifully drawn aesthetics of the remastered version – that also sees the original’s HUD reworked into a radial menu. I found myself switching back and forth during the earlier moments of the game to get a feel for how the game used to look, but after the novelty wore off I stuck to the updated graphics because when they look this good why wouldn’t you?
The voice acting in Day of the Tentacle is also superb, further adding to the game’s charm and sense of humour. It is worth spending the time to explore all the dialogue options when talking to the characters in the game, just to ensure that you don’t miss out on any hilarious quips or useful pieces of info that may help you out. For those of you that wish to learn more about this classic piece of gaming history, there is also a director’s commentary available – although I would suggest that you leave this for a second play-through so that you don’t miss out on anything first time ’round.
For those of you old enough to have played the original, one other thing that the remastered version has carried over is that it includes its predecessor, Maniac Mansion, in its entirety as an easter egg. This is something that could be easily missed, but if you happen across a computer during your run then interact with it and give it a go. Two games for the price of one, not bad!
Now don’t get me wrong, Day of the Tentacle Remastered is definitely not a game for everyone. The difficulty of the puzzles is sure to put a lot of people off, and the game can be completed in one sitting – providing you don’t get stuck! But for those of you that have fond memories of this classic, or want to play a part of video game history – then Day of the Tentacle Remastered is another Double Fine classic that I would highly recommend!