LucasArts’ classic series of adventure games from the 90’s simply stand alone. Despite a few dated elements, it is clear that when making these games the developers, writers, and artists had a clear vision of a whimsical, comical, and fun game. Their legacy stretches across decades and few are as beloved and filled with nostalgia as Day of The Tentacle. A sequel to another adventure game classic, Maniac Mansion, it was an example of pure fun and whimsy. After nearly two decades of sitting on the shelf, can a new coat of HD paint bring this classic to new light?
I didn’t think I’d end up enjoying an adventure game. I’m all for puzzles, great writing, and an interesting world, but having come to Day of The Tentacle Remastered without much foreknowledge, I only knew the puzzles would be dense and difficult. My assumptions were pretty spot on, as I needed a walkthrough to make my way through the game in a timely manner. This was from a day when games weren’t meant to be beaten- they were meant to be conquered. The puzzles were obtuse in hopes of sending players around in circles to feel accomplished when they finally put it all together. I’d advise to keep a walkthrough open, but also to explore the environment, talk to everyone, and guess at puzzles on your own too.
What really shines, even more than twenty years later, is the writing. Every character has their own personality, goofy accent, and series of lines they’ll give you. Asking a character the same question elicits a different, goofy, answer. I would veer away from the walkthrough just to talk to George Washington, or the tentacle guard, or the depressed inventor. When solving a puzzle, you’re at least treated to a line or two of funny dialogue or, hopefully, a full scene of absurdity. Maybe it’s tentacles judging humans on their hair and smile, or Washington smoking an exploding cigar.
The visuals in the remastered version get a great upgrade. On the PS4 you can press the touchpad to easily switch between the original graphics and the new ones. The difference is huge, and though the animations don’t have new frames, their movements still fit perfectly with the humor. Watching Laverne hitch up her tentacle costume while she walks or Hoagie stuff himself into and out of windows are little quirks that serve the greater fun.
In addition, you have a lot of little treats for long time or new fans. There’s concept art that unlocks as you play, and developer commentary available from the start. It really feels like this is made for longtime fans who want to revisit a classic, but is easily accessible for newcomers like me. Even if you’ve never played the prequel, Maniac Mansion, you’ll only maybe miss out on a few references and assumptions. Somehow I already knew the grandfather clock was the entrance to the secret lab at the very beginning and didn’t need the walkthrough.
Despite really enjoying Day of The Tentacle, I would give one word of caution. Be aware of the difficult puzzles and grab a good walkthrough, but do yourself a favor and poke around the world. Use your conversation options, explore the environments, and enjoy the world you’re in. Games just don’t feel this fun and lighthearted anymore.
Despite the age, and puzzles, we're treated to a wonderful update to a purely fun and funny game.