(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)
- The Game Itself
- 4.5 Stars
- The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
- 5 Stars
- The Audio: Rating the Sound
- 4.5 Stars
- Replay Factor
- 4 Stars
- Bottom Line
- Highly Recommended
Day Of The Tentacle Remastered (Crossbuy)
- Street Date:
- March 22nd, 2016
- Reviewed by:
- Brian Hoss
- Review Date:1
- March 30th, 2016
- Game Release Year:
- Double Fine Productions
- Double Fine Productions
Digital PS4 version reviewed. 'Day of the Tentacle Remastered' is cross buy, cross play, and cross save between the PS4 version, and indeed, the review time included some significant play on the PS Vita.
It's been decades, but now the 1993 LucasArts' classic, 'Day of the Tentacle' makes its triumphant return. Featuring new, hand-drawn art, remastered audio, intact classic mode, concept art gallery, commentary, and one of the better Easter eggs in gaming, ' Day of the Tentacle Remastered' debuts as a PS4/Vita, and PC/Mac game.
'Day of the Tentacle' is closely associated with one of its creators, Tim Schafer, but is also loosely framed as a sequel to Ron Gilbert's 1987 'Maniac Mansion.'
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
Let's just cut right to the chase. If I were to create a wish list of features for a 'Day of the Tentacle' PS4 port, I would have stopped short of what's been realized in the 'Day of the Tentacle Remastered.' It's as updated and friendly as I think possible short of remake or redesign. Unlike last year's 'Grim Fandango Remastered,' 'Day of the Tentacle' is a 2D adventure game and wow does that make the resulting remastering so much more palatable in spite of the game's age.
'Day of the Tentacle' ostensible cribs the interaction system of its forerunner, 'Maniac Mansion,' but the result is really a design that became very popular in the 90's and continues to this day. That is, the player searches around each environment for objects which will hopefully be useful in accessing the next environment or else in solving a puzzle needed to advance the story. At the same time, making these attempts and successes, gives the game ample opportunity to let the characters be funny.
At the same, the trial and error of puzzle solving, which for me sometime clicks happily and other times hits a brick wall, is penalty free. The only way to fail is to quit trying.
'Day of the Tentacle' has a little of the b-movie/sci-fi trappings of 'Maniac Mansion,' but it's really more in vein of classic Saturday morning/pre-feature cartoons. Painting a white strip on a black cat (in the far future no less) instantly turns it into a skunk, which in turn is useful for one specific situation.
Aside from the very Looney Tune-y style, which extends to each of the major and minor characters, the game employs a three-protagonist, parallel approach. This provides the player with a growing familiarity with the environment and NPCs which is useful for puzzle solving and for further parody. Even more tangible, this sets up the mechanic of having the player trading items and solving puzzles across time. This tends to make the Hoagie part of the game the most important and does involve some tedious treks to the time machine, but the execution is nevertheless pretty great in that zany way.
Along with the progression comes several moments of adulation as certain characters are foiled in one manner or another. Pulling the wool over the novelty joke purveyor (and Benjamin Franklin look-alike) was practically a high five moment.
I was looking forward to getting in-game on the PS4 and Vita, but once the game started, I had a moment of serious concern as I realized how cursor-intensive the game was. (Which is fine when using a mouse, but what a controller?) As it turns out, the DualShock 4 enabled control scheme is both easy and effective. For the most part, the collision detection for making selections is spot on. Only when pulling out certain objects from the inventory did I have any trouble, (like using the coffee pot or attaching the rope), but that's really just because the rest of the game was so natural.
The Vita controls were just as good, and some might argue better as the touch screen can also be used. On both platforms, pressing Up on the d-pad highlights all clickable items. Pressing Left or Right on the D-pad switches between characters (and thereby timelines). This is instant of the PS4, and just a tad slower on the Vita.
To be fair, I found the intact inclusion of the full 'Maniac Mansion' to be a huge bonus. It's not remastered in terms of art or sound, but it is the better PC version, and it controls and runs like better. (Though grabbing dimes from the Piggy Bank was extremely tricky on the Vita.) I've written a little about playing 'Maniac Mansion' in the 'Day of the Tentacle Remastered' here, and the only further thing that I want to point out is that the much sterner (easy to fail) nature of 'Maniac Mansion' is still really great to play. That game is darker (it even has some real tension), and makes great use of having different party members and different endings. This inclusion on its own makes this whole game worth it. (After beating 'Maniac Mansion' at least once, I suggest checking out this amazing post on the changes that had to be made to the NES version.)
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Once more, this ought to be what we think of when the term 'Remastered' is used. I simply can't get over the clean realization of the classic scenes. There may be a handful of spots where the new look is limited by the old animation (and in turn pointed out in the commentary), but the confluence of perspectives that anchors the extremely enjoyable style has never looked better.
The 16:9 presentation is offset by the removal of the screen hungry UI, a difference which can be seen just by clicking the touch pad and switching between Classic and Remastered modes. Transferring over to the Vita does have an effect, mainly on the characters, but the game nevertheless looks great.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
While not as obviously stunning as the visuals, the audio remastering is still commendable. I did once hit a bug where Lavern spoke in place of Bernard, but it really was a one-off. Players expect to hear lots of the same audio cues when trying out different things, but within that there are lots of little jokes that shouldn't be missed.
The game has Trophies, unlockable concept art, toggleable commentary, and the excellent, playable 'Maniac Mansion.' For all of that, the replay value isn't huge. ('Maniac Mansion' is highly replayable by comparison.) Even so, I'd still keep it installed on my Vita which is saying something good.
The commentary is a bit all over the place, but there are lots of fascinating nuggets that can be extracted. I was enthralled to hear and read about certain things that still irk the devs so many years later.
I found 'Day of the Tentacle Remastered' to be a shining example of how to do a remaster, and the visuals really stand tall. The original game is more accessible (and nearly modern in some aspects) than I recall. Coupled with the included 'Maniac Mansion' and Vita support, this ought to make a great adventure game romp for a great swathe of players.
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