Day of the Tentacle Remastered review for PS Vita, PS4

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PS4, PC, iOS
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Developer: Double Fine Productions
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

In general, my feelings towards Day of the Tentacle Remastered are pretty much the same as they were towards last year’s remastered version of Grim Fandango: I can see why it’s held in such high regard, but it’s also easy to see how far the genre has come since the game first came out.

In fact, this is probably even more true for Day of the Tentacle, since the game itself makes the difference so plainly obvious. Just press Select (at least on the Vita version), and it instantly transitions to its original interface in all its command-heavy glory. Do that, and there’s no moving the cursor and clicking in the direction of where you want your character to walk, nor is there any clicking on objects to investigate what they do. Instead, that old version has a list of text commands, and a list of objects, and it’s up to you to figure out how they match. As someone who didn’t grow up with these games, it’s a pretty stark contrast, and it makes me appreciate the effort that went into updating Day of the Tentacle’s gameplay for a modern audience.

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Likewise, the presence of the older version reveals just how much the remastering process helped Day of the Tentacle in the looks department. In its modern state, it’s nothing special. In fact, with all its weird angles and wacky colours, you could even say it feels a little dated. However, it’s by no means an eyesore — which is another dramatic difference from the original, which looks like a full-on ’90s relic. (And don’t even get me started on the hidden — and decidedly non-remastered — version of Maniac Mansion.)

Surprisingly, the one area in which the game feels freshest is also the one the least impacted by the updates: the dialogue and the humour. To be sure, a lot of it feels like a holdover from the ’90s; even accounting for the fact that the game owes a heavy debt to media that was decades-old when Day of the Tentacle came out, the overarching sensibility is still one that can be pinpointed to 1993 or so. However, thanks to the fact that Tim Schafer and his Double Fine cohorts were — and remain to this day — such genius writers, it still works in the same way that most good comedy from the era still works: the reference points and ideas at work may be a little different, but it’s funny enough that you’re guaranteed to at least crack a few smiles throughout the game. On top of that, the plotting is done well enough that the game knows how to get you interested and keep you that way all the way through.

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Of course, keeping you hooked all the way through is contingent on you picking up Day of the Tentacle Remastered in the first place. And that, in turn, is contingent on how much you like adventure games. It works best if you know the genre, since it’s a cool piece of history and it’s neat to see how they’ve evolved over the last few decades, but if you don’t have that, Day of the Tentacle Remastered is probably going to be a little too niche for your tastes.

Grade: B