If you were a fan of point and click adventures in the early nineties then there is no way you could have avoided (nor wanted to avoid) playing Day of the Tentacle. Just like Monkey Island another Lucasarts franchise, Day of the Tentacle was so popular back then that it deserved a graphical reboot twenty years later. So, this review will be covering both the original classic game and the new graphically rebooted game of today.
As a point and click adventure the storyline is everything and Day of the Tentacle weaves an interesting comic tale over three time periods straight of the back of its predecessor Manic Mansion. Five years after Manic Mansion, an evil purple tentacle escapes and drinks some toxic sludge, that gives him prehensile flippers, a massive intellect and maniacal need to take over the world.
Dr Fred, a mostly insane scientist knows that the only way to stop Purple tentacle is by killing him and his nice green tentacle brother. Everything is going mostly to plan until the Nerd, and protagonists Bernard Bernoulli with his two friends, Laverne an unstable med student and Hoagie a roadie, frees the green tentacle and inadvertently the purple one too. Leaving Purple free to use his incredible brain got global domination.
Dr Fred knows that Purple is so crazy smart that his plan will definitely work, and the only thing they can do to save the world is to go back in time. Jumping into a time machine made out of a portable toilet, Dr Fred plans to send them all back in time. However, an imitation diamond was used instead of a real diamond, the machine brakes down and accidentally sends the three heroes to three different periods in history.
Laverne gets sent to 200 years in the future after Purple has taken over the world, Hoagie gets sent 200 years in the past around the time of the signing of the declaration of independence, and Bernard steps out of the machine in the present.
It’s up to Bernard, Laverne and Hoagie to stop Purple’s plans before, after and during his takeover of the world.
The gameplay itself is a fairly standard point and click affair. You collect items and use them in order to solve problems, easy. Where Day of the Tentacle excels is that items and puzzles are often solved across time-frames. Not only can the Chrono Johns, the portable toilet time machines be used to send items from one time period to another, but solving puzzles and using items can actually change things in a future time zone.
For example, taking a leaflet claiming that ‘every home should have a vacuum cleaner’ from the present and sending it to Hoagie in the past, means he can put that leaflet in the suggestion box for the US constitution. This makes a vacuum cleaner appear in the present and the future. By amending the pattern for the US flag in the past it means that you can have a tentacle costume in the future. Trust me you can. I know it doesn’t sound connected, but it is.
Graphics & Sound
Day of the Tentacle has graphics that are reasonable enough. The original game was obviously far blockier than the new smooth and refreshed game. In both cases though, there are no real problems. In some point and click adventures, especially back in the early nineties you could be scanning every screen, pixel by pixel trying to find an item that couldn’t be represented by anything more than a tiny square. However, even then DotT didn’t really suffer from this, and the new version eradicates any chance of that happening altogether.
Day of the Tentacle was one of the first games to incorporate full audio. Ok it was a little grainy back then but it’s not like we had anything better. Obviously, the sound in the refreshed one is at the standard you’d expect of a game now.
It’s a point and click. You point at stuff and click your mouse button (Or tap the screen on the mobile app version) there’s not really any more to say is there?
The difficulty of Day of the Tentacle is very dependent on the players ability to solve puzzles with somewhat tenuously logical solutions. I think it takes a certain type of puzzle solver to get, without the help of a walkthrough, that you need to swap out the professors coffee for de-caff, so he’ll fall asleep, sleep-walk to the safe and start undoing it, allowing you to record that on a security video-tape and watch in slow motion to get the same combination. So, if you think like that, you’ll be fine. Otherwise DotT may be on the trickier side for you.
Honestly, there isn’t really much in the way of replayability. There’s the one story and only one way to do it. There are no unlockable characters, levels, skins or difficulty levels. Of course back in my day (and yes I am quite old) you’d spend days and weeks for nothing more than the joy and achievement of getting through to the end and seeing a cut scene.