System: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Vita, iOS, OS X | Released: March 2016
Developer: LucasArts / Double Fine | Reviewed On: PC
Ex-LucasArts developer Tim Schafer proceeds to resurrect the old classics with this remaster of Day of The Tentacle and shows us exactly why we loved these games back in the day, when we were young and, supposedly, innocent. Point & Click as a genre has shaped the way I play and love games in more ways than one, and LucasArts has been a massive influence on me from the get-go. I've said it before in my short reviews of Grim Fandango and Full Throttle, and I'll say again that it's a breath of fresh air that Tim is re-releasing these nostalgic entities. Unfortunately, this little quirk slipped through my net when I was a kid. Here's what I thought of it on a full - unbiased by sentimentality - play through.
Day of The Tentacle was first released in June 1993 by LucasArts and posed as the sequel to Maniac Mansion (of which I played neither of the originals). Double Fine Productions' remastered version of the game hit the market in March 2016.
The story takes place 5 years after the events of Maniac Mansion and follows Bernard Bernoulli's attempts to prevent the purple tentacle from taking over the world after ingesting toxic sludge and developing flipper-like appendages with an increased capacity for intelligence and ambitions of world domination. Bernard is accompanied by two other completely whappy characters in his quest through time, this way and that, with the help of mad scientist Dr Fred Edison, altering occurrences in the past and present to save the future - both a marvellous and bold concept to conquer.
The game portrays a hugely abstract vision, filled to the brim with random comedic illogical-ness (new word). First impressions of this style and direction, with no nostalgia to carry me through, was that the game didn't interest me or intrigue me in any way. As a story-driven gamer, always in search of emotion through good story-telling, it isn't something I would normally decide to play. The fact that Day of The Tentacle is revered as one of LucasArts' best work was the incentive to persevere and I have to admit, I found myself enjoying it thoroughly once involved.
From the visuals, we are presented with a sharp, high definition, clean-cut, 2D cartoon art style that is synonymous with classic 'Cartoon Network' animation programmes. The environment is visually striking in its vibrancy and topsy turvy design, something that follows through into the personas of Ben's merry band of associates. The avatars, in particular, are sharper than sharp and, from what I can tell, are a massive improvement of the originals in 16bit - as to be expected. Here is a comparison of the standard:-
Again, the talent of the LucasArt's artists back in the '90s is entirely evident as the actual detail, in terms of lighting and shadow work, is largely untampered with (as it's not necessary) in the remaster. All that appears to have been carried out is an overhaul of the resolution with some minor changes here and there, and of course, an increase in framerates from the original I'd imagine. I believe this is Tim Schafer's sole objective; not to remaster and change anything drastic as to take away the essence of the original, but to polish these already great games filled with already beautiful assets and provide them with an ability to sit neatly on the shelves of the present.
The audio has been completely recreated to suit the new age and is entirely fitting of the style and direction of the game. Quirky is the term I'd use. Without playing the original I'd struggle to make a comparison but all I'd say is, that the soundtrack belongs. Similarly, the sound FX to accompany actions and animations within the game are classically appropriate and executed to a good standard.
The gameplay is classic Point & Click, in the classic LucasArts way and is as fluid as controls in this genre come. The variety of controls is standard with the addition of 'Push' and 'Pull' actions - something that isn't common but is absolutely used throughout the game, as per design. The controls are simple yet satisfying and capable.
The one thing that stands out is the lack of a hint system - something that I definitely could have used at various points. A walkthrough came in handy numerous times to sail me swiftly through the game through fear of never returning to it after a game-stopping puzzle. For this reason, I was able to experience the game as a single entity, a piece of art rather than a broken triathlon, and I finished it in almost one sitting.
The title tackles a bold topic - time travel - which is never to be explored lightly due to absolute scrutiny of authenticity. However, the original developers at LucasArts (and I'm sure the guys at Double Fine are the same) are complete nutjobs and are able to bend these bold themes to their will and get away with it. They live free of the shackles of realism and thus are able to effectively do what they want. To that extent, anything goes, and Day of The Tentacle takes advantage of that.
I feel like the final swing of the game was lacklustre but yielded a perfect cadence, a culmination of efforts in three different timelines. I would probably have to play the original and the prequel game (Maniac Mansion - which you can do so on a computer within this game!) to really fall in love with it, however, I doubt that it's appeal will pull me to do so (with no nostalgic influence to push me although I was certainly pleased to see reference to other LucasArts Greats within, namely, Guybrush Threepwood).
Now, I'll leave you with my opinion...
Day of The Tentacle is satisfying.