Grim Fandango Remastered Review
I want to start off by saying I loved the original game in 1998. In fact, I still have my big boxed copy of the game with strategy guide and original receipt. I bought a PC just to play this game. So to say I'm a fan, is an understatement. I never thought in a hundred years after Lucasarts closed its doors, we would ever see this game again. Thanks to Sony and Double Fine, a new generation can enjoy one of the best games of all time.
In Grim Fandango you play as Manuel "Manny" Calavera, a travel agent at the Department of Death in the city of El Marrow. He is working to pay off his debt to the powers that be and earn a way to the Ninth Underworld. Manny's clients are people who are recently deceased and find themselves in the Land of the Dead. It's his job to act as the Grim Reaper and assist lost souls reach the afterlife. Their good deeds in life are rewarded by access to better travel packages. The best is the Number Nine, a train that takes four minutes to reach the gate to the Ninth Underworld. If they did not lead a kind life, they must travel through the Land of the Dead to the Ninth Underworld on foot, a journey that takes around four years.
The game is divided into four acts that take place over four consecutive years in the life of Manny. The art is very 1930s Art Deco and the game has a film noir feel, like a dark Casablanca or Maltese Falcon. The game contains elements of Aztec beliefs of the afterlife and the character style is based on Mexican calaca figures that are used to celebrate the Day of the Dead. The graphics are a mix of pre-rendered backgrounds with 3-D characters which have been repainted and now have hi-res textures. They have also added new dynamic lighting that adds more of a feel of being in a room rather than a 3-D character on top of a painted background. At any time during the game, you can switch between classic and remastered with a click of a button to see the difference.
With this game, you can see where Telltale games draw inspiration from Grim Fandango's play style. There are objects you can collect that you use to solve many of the puzzles, as well as conversation trees that unlock hints on what needs to be done to solve puzzles or progress the plot. At heart, it is a point and click adventure with many different ways to play. If you are on the Vita, you can simply touch the screen where you want Manny to go or what you want him to pick up, or you can use the "tank controls" with the stick and face buttons. If you buy the game on the PS4, it includes the Vita version for free. The game also has cross-save, much like CounterSpy where if you are connected to the internet when you save your game, it will auto upload to the cloud so you can instantly continue on whatever system you choose to play.
The score is another highlight of this game. It was re-recorded with a full orchestra, which sounds amazing and sets the mode perfectly in the game. If that wasnt enough, there is over two hours of developer commentary included. If you have the commentary turned on, an icon will appear in the upper left corner and with the press of the button you can listen to Tim and staff talk about inspirations for the scene, the music and more. It's a great extra feature that really shows how after all these years, the game still means so much to them. You can also check out concept art and re-watch cut scenes in the option menu.
Overall, this game is just as great today as it was almost 17 years ago. If you played this game back in the day, do yourself a favor and play it again. If you never played, it then you really need to play one of the greatest games of all time. The gameplay is simple and the puzzles are challenging. The graphics are works of art and the repainted hi-res character textures bring the game up to date. Great music and wonderful voice acting keep you in the game, along with comedic characters like Glottis and Manny and a great story make this remastered game better than some big budget releases of the past few years.
I give it a 5 out of 5.
Be sure to check out our Twitch TV page 1/27 at 10pm est for Josh's live stream of Grim Fandango on Tuesday Review!
Grim Fandango is available on Playstation 4, Vita and Steam for $14.99. Thanks to Double Fine for providing codes for review.