Game: Day of the Tentacle
Platform: PC, PS4 (remastered)
Release: 1993 (2016 remastered)
There’s always a worry when remastering or re-releasing any game from yesteryear that it just doesn’t hold up to today’s standards. So many elements of game design, structure and development have changed so quickly in a relatively short amount of time that there’s a massive risk that something will feel incredibly dated when replaying and comparing it to its contemporary peers. Back in the day they may have been the cream of the crop but today they feel more of a chore to play – the best example of this is Goldeneye 007 on the N64, great for the time, absolutely awful to play through now (especially its completely broken multiplayer. Oddjob, anyone?).
So Double Fine going through their back catalogue and re-releasing their classics can be seen as a risk, despite the reasoning for re-releasing is sound (prior to the remasters, there was no way for these games to be purchased without either torrenting or having a 15+ year old PC). Grim Fandango has already received the remaster treatment and Full Throttle is on the way, but in the meantime we have perhaps one of the most beloved point’n’click adventures, Day of the Tentacle, has just been given the spit shine and released. Does it fall into the nostalgia trap, or does it hold up?
The first thing to notice is the graphical polish the game has received – the new default is clean, crisp cartoon animations, a similar style to a Flash cartoon. It’s fantastic seeing things in such clarity, but if I’m honest I think the game looked better in its original state. Happily for old-fashioned folks like me, there’s an option to switch between the old and new graphical stylings at will. The sound design upgrade fares better (for me at least), as the games cartoonish music really does benefit from the remaster.
As for the game itself, well, it’s Day of the Tentacle. Adventure game design back in the 90s almost required complete lunacy in puzzle structure and solutions, partly in order to increase the length of time someone could soend with the game but also for the devlopment team to bring across their style of humour. For some, the moon logic doesn’t quite work (my beloved King’s Quest suffers quite badly from this, as do a couple of Lucasarts titles including, unfortunately, my all time adventure game favourite Grim Fandango), but for DotT, I think it works. For newcomers it may be a bit difficult having no hint system but the solutions are fun if not always logical, something DoTT strives for.
Thankfully as well, the story remains humorous and the game is still funny (even if the voice acting can be a tad off putting after 23 years of industry improvement). Quite simply, if you enjoyed the original or have a love for adventure games this is a no-brainer while I feel non-fans probably won’t get a lot out of it and may leave disappointed.