Day of The Tentacle Remaster Review

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Leaping Lab rats! The Remaster we’ve all been waiting for!

This generation seems to be the time for upgrades and remakes, which is all fine and good, but finally, I get the one I really want. I’ve been waiting for Day of the Tentacle for a very long time.

I remember playing this game as a child on our first family computer; I’ve actually still got the original CD-ROM.

I really am a huge fan of the original game and upon learning of the impending re-master months ago, had high hopes that this would do it justice. I thought it was brilliantly funny back then, well constructed and hoped it would still hold up today. A small niggling fear in the back of my head – what if DOTT doesn’t actually hold up today and it doesn’t turn out to be as great as I thought it was 20 odd years ago.

Luckily, I’m happy to say that isn’t the reality.

Now in case you had a very deprived gaming childhood or just missed it entirely, DOTT is about a mutated tentacle that turns evil after consuming toxic sludge and decides to take over the world.

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DOTT is a classic ‘point and click’ puzzle adventure game, filled with funny dialogue, weird and wonderful characters you meet along the way.

You play as three very different and unlikely friends who have to stop him from taking over the world, the only problem being they’re all stuck in different times, thanks to mad scientist Dr. Fred Edison’s botched time travel machine.

Our three protagonists are – Hoagie the rock roadie. He is 200 years in the past, Laverne the oddball is 200 years in the future and geeky Bernard is stuck in the present. Their only form of contact – three toilets converted into Chron-O-Johns and the help of a mad scientist.

Double fine really have given DOTT the care and attention it deserves in this update. The lines are smoother, the colours are vibrant and they haven’t changed the art style and have kept true to the origins of the game. They have also re-mastered the audio.

The puzzles still hold up today, they’re funny, clever, well constructed and don’t feel shoehorned in. Some are also head-scratchingly difficult. Having played this game many years ago some of the answers evaded me. You will find a time when you feel like you’re aimlessly hopping between all 3 kids and just repeating yourself but, there’s no greater feeling, after all the pointing n’ clicking for half an hour when you get the “Eureka” moment and it all comes together nicely.

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The dialogue still works today as well as it did in 1993, it’s witty, funny and sometimes just a bit dark. There are also some great one-liners, especially when trying to use certain objects with other objects in the puzzle solving. With some pretty comical achievements popping up along the way. I watched all of the cut scenes and used most of the dialogue choices and at times there were proper laugh moments out of me.

Playing across all three playable characters is simple and easy enough, you play as much with whomever, but there are moments when certain actions affect certain times, this works really well across all three characters. The inventory system is super simple and does a good job swapping between each kid and playing across the different time periods.

With DOTT given the enhanced and updated treatment, you can switch back to the original style so you can see the difference. Personally, I didn’t remember the game being that pixelated, but hitting the button will show there’s a huge difference in graphics, 20+ years obviously goes a long way and it really shows the effort and care Double Fine put into making this re-master look as good as it does. The only bad point I noticed was some of the dialogue didn’t match up to the speaking animation, a bit like poor dubbing. It’s not enough to ruin it, but it is noticeable – I suspect this is down to the voices and sounds being improved to a higher bit-rate.

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DOTT been completely redrawn in high definition 2D graphics and it really does look marvellous, you can also mix and match audio, graphics and UI to whichever you prefer.

Throughout the adventure, you will also collect concept art and you can turn on the developer commentary which really adds to the heritage of the game.

To summarise, DOTT is still great today. It’s a great point and click game with genuine laugh out loud moments, clever and well-made puzzles. The remake looks gorgeous and the writing is still as fantastic now as it was back then. Whether or not you played the original, this is a classic point and click adventure game that will keep you entertained and challenged while laughing and smiling throughout.

Pros

Amazing work re-mastering looks gorgeous.

Still holds up as a classic point and click

Laugh out loud funny.

Cons

Vocal Animation can be a bit off.

If you’ve not played before, some of the puzzles can be very challenging
Score: 9/10

Stasis Review

 

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In stasis no one can hear you scream. Stasis is an adventure game from South African developer The Brotherhood. Built over five years by a small team led by Chris Bischoff, Stasis is clearly a labour of love.

You play as John Maracheck, a teacher on his way to make a new life on Titan with his family. Woken from suspended animation you find yourself in an unfamiliar ghost ship deep in space and separated from your wife and daughter. As you begin to piece together where you are and what has happened, you discover you are on a ship called The Groomlake, a medical vessel owned and run by the Cayne Corporation. But something has gone terribly wrong. No one is to be seen, and blood smears the walls and floors. After recovering from your rude awakening from stasis you are contacted by Te’ah, a member of the Groomlake’s crew.  She proceeds to guide you through the horrors that await in the depths of the ship and hopefully, back to your wife and daughter.

Like the games and films that obviously influence it, Stasis oozes atmosphere; steam leaks from severed pipes, walkways creak and corridors echo with the distant screams of what remains of the crew. Each screen is rendered in 2D, mostly static but with small animations and movement dotted around. Animation is used to great effect in Stasis, bringing to life the hulking industrial design of the ship, it also breathes life into some of the horrors you encounter along the way.

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The bulk of the story is voice acted, but the story is fleshed out by reading diary entries and emails on PDAs that are scattered around the ship, usually found at the feet of the recently deceased crew. Each section of the ship will have its own smaller story, gradually revealing the chain of events that lead to your awakening.  It involves a fair amount of reading, but helps to reveal more about the world you are in as well as offer clues to the larger picture.

Stasis is very much a traditional point and click adventure game, you have a small inventory where you collect and combine various items along the way. Puzzles are your main obstacles to progress and the puzzles in Stasis offer enough challenge to feel like you’re being smart when you solve them but not so difficult that you feel like pushing your eyeballs into the back of your head. I confess I did get stuck on a few puzzles but the game’s logic is sound enough that if you give it some time the solution usually presents itself.

Stasis wears its influences on its sleeve, references from some of the greatest horror and sci-fi films of the past are scattered throughout the game.  One in particular that stuck out for me is the name of the protagonist. It is wonderfully geeky, and I noticed it immediately and I highly approve. In other hands these references could have felt cheap and derivative but in Stasis they feel like a celebration of all that is and was great about the sci-fi horror genre, even if a line of dialogue happens to be borrowed from a great sci-fi film, it just brings happy associations.

Stasis hits all the right notes, particularly if you’re a fan of the horror sci-fi genre, even if you’re not, it’s a sublime example of the point and click adventure game, a genre that is deserving of more attention. Stasis follows a particular brand of horror from the likes of Dead Space, Aliens and Event Horizon so if that’s your thing this will no doubt appeal to you. If you’re yet to try a point and click adventure then Stasis is a great point to start.

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If I had to make any complaints about this game it’d have to be some of the voice acting. On the whole the acting is of a really high quality, the actor playing John does a fantastic job of portraying his horror of the sights of the Groomlake. However with this kind of genre, if you don’t sound convincing, it can occasionally take you out of the fiction of the game. Another quibble is Stasis is rendered in 720p without any options to scale to different resolutions and that’s a real shame. This game looks beautiful in 720p, it would look eyepopping in 1080p and above.

These are just minor nitpicks however, Stasis is a resounding success, it’s dark, gritty sci-fi at its best, it’s a meaty game with a great story that pulls the game along at a great pace. What makes this game remarkable is that it was drawn, programmed and written by essentially one guy. It should stand as a shining example of what lone developers and small teams can achieve with the range game making tools at their disposal. Auteurism is something bigger videogames sorely lack and now that game designers are going back to bedroom coding, the cradle of life where games originally came from, a game like Stasis should be highly regarded as a singular vision, no DLC, no micro transactions or pre-purchase incentives, just a simple game in its purest form.

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Gods Will Be Watching PC Review

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I Love You But I Gotta Stay True

If you know where the late night seedy area of your conurbation is, you might find someone willing to don a pair of red shiny stilettos and stand on your scrotum.  If these services are available for around £7 all the better, it will be over quicker and be far less painful than trying to play Gods Will Be Watching.

I love point and click games, I’ve written about my love for them before, when I previewed the unfunded Kickstarter project for The Breakout.  GWBW is not a point and click game, well the game is controlled via point and click but that’s as close to the DNA of the genre that it gets unfortunately.

It’s more like torture porn, and I don’t mean in a good way where you can sit back relax and knock one out whilst watching some slap and tickle.  You are the subject of the torture, and if the developer wanted you to feel like a Daddy Longlegs having each limb pulled off, then bravo. It’s an accomplished piece of game design, but I think I’d rather book into Gitmo for a fortnight all inclusive.

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My Morals Got Me On My Knees

So I’m going to try and be constructive with this critique, but first here’s a bit of history about the games development.  GWBW was the product of the Ludum Dare 26 Game Jam.  The theme for the event was “Minimalism” and with that in mind the team created a single scene with minimalism  as the core gameplay element.  You and your team had to survive 40 days in an isolated environment before being rescued.  It was a neat idea, filled with morally ambiguous decisions, and the plaudits soon followed.

Following the success of the game jam, a crowd-funding effort soon materialised and the $20,000 raised on Indiegogo smashed the $8,000 original target back in August 2013.  At some point darling indie publisher Devolver jumped on board and the rest as they say is history.  Fast forwarding to 2014, and the game has now hit full release.

I’m Begging Please, Stop Playing Games

The first mission finds you in control of a team trying to hack a computer aboard an enemy installation.  Your team each have their own responsibilities.  One is in charge of ensuring the security team doesn’t storm your position, another is looking after hostages, a third controllable character is your electronic warfare specialist-  tasked with boosting the hack speed and crippling attempts to stop your hack.

Are your hostages looking a bit too calm for your liking? You can shout at them or give them a bit of a kicking. Likewise, if they are on the edge of doing something stupid you can try and calm them down.  It’s the same mechanic for keeping the attackers back, firing a couple of shots forces them into retreat, where as negotiating halts them in their tracks and gives your team breathing space.

The second episode- titled ’20 Days of Words’ concentrates on just two of your team, who after being captured must survive 20 days of extreme interrogation. I’d hazard a bet that this would be Dick Cheney’s favourite part.  Don’t answer the questions? You get hurt. Sustain enough injuries and you die.  You can give your merciless captors the information for a brief respite, but give too much away and it’s game over.  Another member of your team does come into play and offers some limited help, but I think you’re getting the idea of this game now. The 6 playable scenes all revolve around the same mechanic, and to be honest I only progressed through trial and error.

Described as a point and click thriller, in reality it’s a point and click resource management game, a brutally tough one at that.  I was lucky enough to get early access to Gods Will Be Watching and was stuck for over a week on that second mission.  It really can be that tough to figure out.  A challenging game can be a great thing, look at the success of Dark Souls.  Where that particular spirit crushing game requires skill, GWBW is all about the unseen algorithms running in the background that are quite honestly incomprehensible to people like me.  The game became a real chore for me, any enjoyment I was having was completely sapped.

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You Got Me Begging You For Mercy

Gods Will Be Watching was designed to be hard, PR spiel suggested that I savour the difficulty and it has been designed to crush.  That’s why this review is coming a good couple of weeks after release, holding back on writing this has also been rather fortuitous, in a 180 only beaten by Microsoft dropping Kinect, the developers have dropped a big patch titled “The Mercy Update”.

The update adds several new difficulty options when playing, from just decreasing the difficulty to doing away with it all together with the simply titled “Narrative” option.  It’s a great idea, but for a game that has been designed to crush it’s a surprising flip flop.  Difficulty aside, the biggest stumbling block is that it’s really hard to develop a connection to the characters and hence care about their fate.  Interesting relate-able characters would have made me plough on through the torture, or even want to play through the narrative again, but it just missed that spark for me.

Gods Will Be Watching is undoubtedly a great concept mired, by lacklustre characters. A game mechanic that at times is unfathomable as it is tough.  The dark and mature themes are a refreshing addition and the developer; Deconstructeam has clearly got some strong unique ideas about game design, and although I find GWBW a bit of a misstep I am excited to see what they come up with next.

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Gods Will Be Watching is available now on both Steam and the Humble Store