While adventure games are more popular than ever thanks to the success of Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones adaptations, many long-time fans feel like the genre peaked in the 90s. That was when two beloved companies, Sierra and LucasArts, put out many of their best titles. It really was the golden age for point-and-click adventure games on PC.
Thankfully for gamers, many of LucasArts’ classic titles have seen re-releases such as Grim Fandango and The Secret of Monkey Island. Yet, the game that many consider the epitome of the genre, Day of the Tentacle, hasn’t seen a release since 1997. Now, thanks to the archiving efforts of Double Fine Productions, it’s back in the spotlight as Day of the Tentacle Remastered.
While there have been many debates among video game enthusiasts on how archiving games should be handled, Double Fine has given us the best of both worlds. Not only has the original 1993 release of the legendary adventure title been left intact, but they’ve also put in a ton of work to modernize the game for today’s consoles. A brand new interface has been added, as has a gorgeous art style that really brings the world to life.
Similar to other remakes like Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, players can instantly toggle between the two styles with a click of a button (or touchpad in this case). I constantly found myself switching back and forth between the original game, which had fantastic animations and sprite work, and the updated version. It’s not purely a visual design choice, though, as the classic version has to be played with the original game’s controls.
While the sequel to Maniac Mansion had already done a good job of simplifying the genre by using fewer input verbs, the new controls make it even more accessible. Now when players interact with an object, all the inputs appear as icons on-screen. Players can quickly select inputs this way, and it makes Day of the Tentacle feel like a much more modern game.
Since the game both plays and looks better than ever, you can more easily enjoy the story and puzzles. Both have aged exceptionally well, too, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The game’s three playable characters are all likeable, and they each have different time periods to interact with so the experience always feel fresh. From interacting with some of America’s founding fathers as the rocker Hoagie to dealing with futuristic slime with Laverne, there’s always a unique experience to be found here.
The writing in particular is quite strong, as Day of the Tentacle is one of the few games that is genuinely hilarious. Almost every puzzle culminates in a gag that is well worth the hard work to solve them, and players will have a grin on their face during the entire thing. Sadly, it’s not a very long affair, only lasting a few hours, but there’s plenty of reasons to replay the game. These range from the trophies that reward experimentation to checking out the many additions that Double Fine have added to the experience.
One area where Double Fine has really knocked it out of the park is in adding special features. Commentary for the game has been recorded, and it features a lot of key members of the original development team, including Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman, Larry Ahern, Peter Chan, Peter McConnell and Clint Bajakian. The commentary ranges from hilarious to very insightful, and is definitely recommended listening. In particular, it’s fun hearing the crew talk about some of the game’s more notorious puzzles, or about how there were originally 6 playable characters.
Commentary is just one of the bonuses, though, as they’ve also included over 150 pieces of concept art. What’s especially cool about viewing the sketches and drawings is that you can tell just how closely the remastered art style matches the concept art. This shows that Day of the Tentacle Remastered really is the game the team wanted to release in 1993, but couldn’t due to technical limitations.
It’s really hard to criticize such an incredible project, but there are some nitpicks to be had. An in-game hint system would’ve definitely been a great addition, as some of the puzzles are obscure in classic adventure game fashion. While there are cues to take from character dialogue and visual hints (such as “wash me” being written on a dusty car), it’s all too easy to get lost. On the bright side, there’s plenty of walkthroughs online since this isn’t exactly a new issue.
Day of the Tentacle Remastered is an amazing feat. Not only has the beloved original been archived, and made easily accessible to both new and returning players, but they’ve also done a fantastic job of updating an undeniable classic. Day of the Tentacle is just as funny today as it was in 1993, and now it looks and plays as good as the writing is. Double Fine is not only preserving an incredible game with this Remastered version, but they’ve actually gone ahead and made it even better.
This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version, which we were provided with.
Day of the Tentacle Remastered isn't just a simple port, it's also an amazing achievement in its own right. The new visuals are gorgeous, and the gameplay has been updated to be streamlined, yet still stay true to the original. Double Fine have outdone themselves here.