Released in 1993, Day of the Tentacle is widely regarded as the best, and funniest, of LucasArts’ beloved point-and-click adventures. Created by a dream team of adventure game developers including Tim Schafer, Dave Grossman, Peter Chan, and Ron Gilbert, it’s the story of an evil tentacle who wants to take over the world, and three time-traveling teenagers on a mission to stop him.
Hoagie, a laid-back heavy metal roadie, is stuck in colonial America. Laverne, a deranged medical student, is trapped in a dystopian future where tentacles rule the world. And Bernard, a stereotypical nerd, is in the present day. But despite the vast temporal gulf between them, they have to work together to stop their squishy nemesis.They do so by altering each other’s timelines and trading items through a malfunctioning time machine disguised as a portable toilet. The puzzles are brilliantly designed, and the running joke of the characters carelessly meddling with the fabric of time to achieve relatively insignificant things—like changing the United States Constitution to make a certain item appear in a room 200 years in the future—is a source of constant amusement.Witty one-liners are delivered with deliberately cartoonish voice acting performances reminiscent of prime-time adult animation; I couldn’t help thinking of Futurama as I played. There’s a wonderfully on-the-nose, irreverent nature to the whole venture, with a tone alternating between literal potty humor and dry, sardonic wit. Day of the Tentacle weaves disparate elements together in a wonderful self-parody of video game logic. The slapstick vibe also helps make acts of ridiculous cruelty more palatable. Day of the Tentacle is, after all, a game that requires you to cryogenically freeze and then microwave a hamster.Almost every item examined or conversation initiated becomes a rolling gag. Even an interrupted suicide attempt somehow turns humorous, pivoting between novelty sight gags and a pretentious discussion of Nietzschean philosophy. The protagonists are perfectly paired with the goofy, deadpan dialogue. Nerdy Bernard, Hoagie the wisecracking roadie, and the weirdo Laverne all seem in on the joke, and a supporting cast of well-voiced, quirky supporting characters like the self-absorbed Dr. Fred and a group of feuding American Founding Fathers are consistently on-point.There are a few neat extras too. Schafer visited the LucasArts archive at Skywalker Ranch and unearthed a treasure trove of original artwork, some of which has been scanned and included in the game. There’s also an entertaining, insightful commentary track recorded by most of the original development team. Concept art galleries are usually desperately tedious, but the quality of the art in Day of the Tentacle, and the legacy of the game, makes browsing through this archive a rare delight.Reasonably priced and passionately restored, Day of the Tentacle Remastered is the perfect opportunity to revisit one of the best adventure games ever made. The final act feels a little rushed, and its roots in ‘90s adventure game design are undeniable, but otherwise it’s hard to fault. You can still play your old copy in DOSBox or ScummVM, of course, but if you want a more streamlined, modern experience, with some fascinating insight into how the game was made, the remaster is worth investing in.The solutions never feel piecemeal or random, but they’re occasionally unintuitive. With no in-game hint system to fall back on, you might have to consult a guide to complete the most difficult challenges, like the late-game mummy-in-the-beauty-pageant puzzle. A dynamic hint system would have been a welcome addition to the remaster.Day of the Tentacle Remastered’s graphics are completely redrawn in detailed, high-definition 2D, and the results look glorious. The colorful, highly stylized images are rendered with a care evocative of quality TV animation. For those who prefer classical pixel art, a single button transitions seamlessly to the original version on the fly. Plus, the developer commentary by the original creators and concept art gallery shouldn’t be missed when you play this outstanding classic.