Full of memorable moments Day of the Tentacle is simply the best graphic adventure ever created.
It’s really difficult to explain why point-and-click adventures were so popular over a decade ago and why Lucas Arts was well-known for much more than just Star Wars games. Day of the tentacle is the sequel of Maniac Mansion and even though the game shares some common characters, plot elements and even the original Maniac Mansion is included as a playable game (arguably the first and probably the best Easter egg included in a video game) Day of the Tentacle represents a reinvention of the genre in itself. One of the most important features of the game is that its charm is undeniable. Everything from the characters, their particular voices, the distinctive places they visit, the three timelines and the witty dialogues clearly demonstrate how much time and effort the developers invested in this game.
Day of the Tentacle begins with one of the most iconic introductory videos in gaming history and you will surely remember it for years to come. The infamous purple tentacle drinks water from a contaminated area in an industrial waste and becomes more intelligent, develops arms and wants to “take over the world.” You assume the roles of three different characters, the nerdy Bernard (the only character featured in Maniac Mansion,) heavy metal fan Hoagie and dumb Laverne, as they try to go back in time to stop Purple Tentacle from conquering Earth. Unfortunately, they end up in different places at different times. Hoagie is sent 200 years back to the past in colonial times where he meets people like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock and Betsy Ross as they struggle to create the flag and the Constitution of the United States of America. Laverne is sent 200 years to the future, where she is imprisoned by an army of purple tentacles, who by the way control the human race. Finally, Bernard is stuck in the present day with Dr. Fred. Surprisingly enough, none of the periods seem to be appropriate to solve any of the immediate problems, but fortunately they are.
From a gameplay perspective the inclusion of three parallel times is an interesting device, as the three main characters interact and share key elements of their inventories for puzzle solving. This cannot be compared to anything else, as this is not a common aspect of adventure games. Even though it is not a revolutionary change in game design it is certainly a unique, meaningful and fresh addition to a common formula. Usually adventure games are considered really difficult, but this is not the case, as the puzzles in Day of the Tentacle are ingenious and great. One of the important things that stand out is that even when you get stuck, that’s it. You don’t lose the game instantly, as you can try it over and over until you succeed, this is the perfect example of a frustration-free type of gameplay. The length of the game itself depends on many factors: how much usually takes you to finish an adventure game, if this is your first time playing one, if you are a completionist, etc. But overall, the game should take you about 10 hours to beat. Even still, its re-playability value is huge, there are some references that you may have skipped or missed on your first play-through that you may get on the second one.
The graphics have aged remarkably well and they suit the game perfectly. Its cartoonish look is really distinctive, this will remind you of simpler times and you probably won’t miss 3D environments or state-of-the-art graphics at all, this game goes beyond that. Animations are incredible as all characters fit in the environment in which they are and this something that even some current games struggle with. Regarding the sound, the game succeeds like few others in the industry. Composed by Clint Bajakian, Peter McConnell and Michael Land, the score is masterfully played and can be bizarre at times. The sound effects are reminiscing of old Warner Bros. cartoons, but the only problem with these is that they tend to be repetitive as sometimes they are played on a loop and other times they are pretty much inexistent. As in most Lucas Arts games the voice acting is exceptional and outstanding, especially in the Talkie version which was released later on in 1993. The voice actors are both professional and talented, and they made sure to imprint certain charm on their performances that made them stand out even more.
Day of the tentacle represents a time in which adventure games were extremely popular and once you play the game you can perfectly see why. This is probably one of the few games in the history of video games that can be considered truly funny and if you want to show somebody the best exponent in graphic adventures this is definitely the one. Day of the Tentacle is an essential part of anybody’s collection, and one of the few video games that has laugh-out loud moments, and one that succeeds at being funny every time, no matter how many times you’ve played it before.