Taking on Day of the Tentacle without a walkthrough

I give Washington the chattering teeth and, lo and behold, a fire is lit. This gives me an idea. I go to the roof and place John Hancock’s blanket over the chimney, filling the downstairs room with smoke. The founding fathers evacuate, and I pinch their pen. Sorry America, no Constitution for you.

I hand the pen to Red, who makes me a battery. It’s uncharged, which finally explains the point of Benjamin Franklin. Besides the founding of a nation stuff, I suppose. 

It’s time for some more sentences I’d never imagined writing. I have found an entrant for the tentacles’ human show. It’s Ted, the mummified corpse that exists in all three time zones. Progress is smooth, at first. I plop some wet noodles on his head, and use a fork to style them into a meatball laden hairdo. I also get my strongest competitor disqualified with some fake barf that, earlier, I’d rescued from a ceiling. 

Hair is only one of the categories by which a human (or mummy) is judged. The other two are smile and laugh. Once again, I am stuck. 

“You can’t use the chattering teeth, but there’s another set somewhere around in Hoagie’s timeline. I had to look that up myself, so that’ll be $6.” 

The horse! I knew it! The problem is, I’ve already tried to get the horse’s dentures, and failed over and over again. And so, like some desperate puzzle addict jonesing for just one more hint, I go crawling back to Andy. 

“There’s a glass next to the horse. When do people put their dentures in a glass? $3.” 

This makes me so frustrated that I involuntarily stand up in exasperation. That’s when I remember that I work in an openplan office. I grab the mug from my desk and walk off to make some coffee, thus creating a cover story for my sudden vertical outburst. The reason I’m annoyed is that, in previously attempting to learn the purpose of Bernard’s book, I’d used it on just about every character. Each one had said that it made them feel sleepy. I’d come so close, but, for whatever reason, I hadn’t considered using it on the horse. Back at my desk, coffee in hand, I easily acquire the dentures. Great, my mummy has the best smile.

Illogical Invoice

A list of Andy's earnings: $3 Catching the teeth, $3 Making the mummy laugh, $3 Acquiring the lab coat, $3 Accessing the VCR, $3 Engineering a prisoner escape, $4 Opening the time capsule, $6 Acquiring the soap, $9 Making the mummy smile. $34 Total

I still can’t work out how to do almost anything else. My progress has halted in each time zone. In the past, I need to persuade Red to give me his lab coat so I can hand it to Benny Franklin. In the present, I need to persuade Nurse Edna to let me access the security room’s VCR. In the future, I need to persuade a panel of tentacle judges that my mummy has the best laugh. Instead of the usual back-and-forth, I send Andy a bumper list of requests. 

“An employee? Seems Red Edison wants help. Edna’s a real pushover. Clowns often make people laugh. $9.” 

That was expensive, but worth it. In the present, I use the scalpel on the fake clown, take out his chuckling voice box and send it to Laverne. All items in place, she wins the competition. Also in the present, I notice the “Help Wanted” sign. I pick it up and send it to Hoagie. Red assumes he made the sign and gives Hoagie the lab coat. I deliver it to Franklin, who makes it into a kite. I attach the battery to said kite and hurl it into a lightning strike. Grabbing the now charged battery, I plug it into the Chron-o-John. I have completed the past! 

As for Bernard, I wonder if it could really be so simple? I tell him to push Edna. He gives her chair a kick, sending her flying out of the room. Once again, I’m a bit annoyed. Bernard is so mild that he refused to use a scalpel to cut gum off a floor. Now he’s kicking lecherous old women? It’s completely out of character. Yes, that’s right, I’m choosing to blame the game’s inconsistent logic rather than my inability to use a verb wall. 

I record Fred entering his safe code, and then watch as the IRS arrests him. I grab a contract out of the safe, and—through a complicated series of events involving an ink-stained stamp collection, a painted mummy and some light dialogue puzzling—post it in the past. As a result, Bernard has access to enough money to buy the diamond he’s needed all this time. I stuff it into the time machine and complete the present day. 

Just the future to untangle now, and doing so involves a puzzle so infuriatingly nonsensical that this remastered edition has an achievement that makes fun of it. Having given the prison warden my dinner coupon, I must now cajole the prisoners into staging an escape. Naturally, I have to consult Andy. He points me in the direction of the cat—specifically to the fence it’s scratching itself on—and charges me another $3. Eventually, I realise I must use the correction fluid on the fence, which, as the cat returns for another scratch, leaves a white stripe along its back. Tempting the cat with a mouse, I grab him and take him to the cell. The prisoners naturally think he’s a skunk, and make a run for it. 

Look, I’m just going to say it: I’m glad adventure games died off. Fans used to lament the fact that mindless action had replaced their more cerebral pleasures. But Quake never asked me to paint a cat by proxy. That’s not cerebral, just annoying puzzle design. The Longest Journey, an adventure game, has you use breadcrumbs to tempt a seagull into attacking a rubber duck so that you can retrieve a clothesline. Gabriel Knight 3, an adventure game, has you style a moustache out of syrup and cat hair in order to disguise yourself as a man who doesn’t have a moustache. Adventure games deserved to die. 

With the tentacle guarding the grandfather clock lured away, Laverne can now access the basement. I go to put the hamster on the treadmill of Fred’s old generator in order to power the Chron-o-John. As I do, a boxing glove attached to an extending arm shoots out of the wall and punches Laverne in the face. This, I feel, is the perfect visual metaphor for my time playing this game. 

Look, I’m just going to say it: I’m glad adventure games died off.

The hamster scurries into a mouse hole, but I’d already amended the Constitution to mandate vacuum cleaners in every basement. I did this for no conceivable reason. Retrieving the hamster, I put him on his wheel and plug in the Chron-o-John. 

All time periods are complete, and the three characters reunite for an epilogue. It is mercifully simple, requiring only that I hurl a bowling ball at some tentacles and talk another into firing his shrink ray at Fred’s head mirror. 

It’s done. I have completed Day of the Tentacle without a walkthrough. I owe Andy $34. More than that, though, I now hate adventure games. It’s something of a pyrrhic victory.

Phil Savage

Phil has been writing for PC Gamer for nearly a decade, starting out as a freelance writer covering everything from free games to MMOs. He eventually joined full-time as a news writer, before moving to the magazine to review immersive sims, RPGs and Hitman games. Now he leads PC Gamer's UK team, but still sometimes finds the time to write about his ongoing obsessions with Destiny 2, GTA Online and Apex Legends. When he's not levelling up battle passes, he's checking out the latest tactics game or dipping back into Guild Wars 2. He's largely responsible for the whole Tub Geralt thing, but still isn't sorry.