Day of the Tentacle Remastered review

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What is it? The classic LucasArts point-and-click adventure, remastered.
Expect to pay £11/$15
Developer Double Fine Productions
Publisher In-house
Reviewed on GeForce GTX 970, Intel i7-5820K, 16GB RAM
Multiplayer None
Link Official site

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.

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Of course, being a LucasArts adventure game from the ‘90s, some of the puzzle solutions are comically absurd. But unlike most adventures from that era, they rarely feel unfair or deliberately obtuse. Paying attention to the environment and listening closely to dialogue always yields clues that push you in the right direction. There are a few puzzles that will have you reaching for a walkthrough, but over time you feel yourself slowly settling into its weird cartoon logic.

The game has a Looney Tunes approach to physics, and this extends to its time travel, which is more Bill & Ted than Primer. Hoagie needs vinegar, so he puts a bottle of wine in a time capsule. 200 years later, the wine has turned to vinegar, and Laverne sends it back to him. It’s slapstick, Saturday morning cartoon time travel, and bearing that in mind will make some of the puzzle solutions clearer.

One of the achievement names, a new addition to this remastered version, acknowledges this when you solve a puzzle that’s particularly Wile E. Coyote-esque: “Oh Right, I’m Playing a Cartoon!” It’s a wonderfully expressive, colourful game, and genuinely funny too. Like the classic cartoons that inspired it, its humour is timeless, although a few of the best gags in Hoagie’s timeline might go over your head if you aren’t familiar with some basic American history.

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