When Grim Fandango was announced to receive a remastered release during E3 2014, I was excited that I had another chance to play one of my favorite titles from 1998, especially since it isn’t easily acquired due to its age.
Grim Fandango Remastered (just as in the original version) puts you in the shoes of Manuel “Manny” Calavera, a travel agent at the Department of Death in the city of El Marrow, as he is forced into his job to work off a debt “to the powers that be.”
The game is divided into four acts, each taking place on November 2nd in four consecutive years.
The conflict of the story begins with Manny being frustrated with his assigned clients who must take the four-year journey and is threatened to be fired by his boss, Don Copal, if he does not come up with better clients. This frustration results in Manny stealing a client, Mercedes “Meche” Colomar, from his co-worker Domino Hurley.
However, the department computers assigned Meche the four-year journey instead, even though Manny believes she should have a guaranteed spot on the “Number Nine” luxury express train due to her pureness of heart in her while alive.
Manny later investigates the situation to later find out that Domino and Don have been rigging the system to deny many clients their Double N tickets, collecting them for the boss of the criminal underworld known as Hector LeMans.
Personally the well-written story as well as its characters is reason enough to buy the game. The dialogue provided with each character interaction is rich and really worthwhile to listen to every conversation route possible.
Even though the game was originally released on PC, playing the game using a DualShock 4 isn’t much of an adjustment, especially since the tank controls work well with it (or with any controller as a matter of fact).
The game also provides camera-relative control settings, which enables you to control your character similar to games from today. I personally played with and would recommend people to use the tank controls, as it gives you the most authentic feel of the game.
Each chapter in Grim Fandango unfolds like most point-and-click adventures, with multiple areas to explore, puzzles to complete and characters to interact with in order to proceed to the next task and finish the year. While exploration itself doesn’t feel like a chore, solving puzzles on the other hand is a different story.
Back in 1998, I was never too fond of the puzzles this game had, even though I had more patience as well as free time, it never bothered me if It took me hours or even days to complete a puzzle.
After playing through the remastered edition, I was glad that I remembered solutions to most of these tedious puzzles; those playing through the first time around will undoubtedly take much longer to solve them. I feel like some puzzles were vague enough that you could only find their solutions out of pure luck.
Sadly the game can get really glitchy (although the instances are minimal). There will be times where Manny will get stuck in a corner, and while sometimes the game will fix itself, rarely you’ll be forced to restart the game. My personal favorite is when Manny’s legs get stuck, but you can still move around.
Players can switch between old graphics and remastered graphics, as well as between 4:3 and 16:9 ratios. While the character models look a lot cleaner using the remastered options, the environments remained the same but that’s asking for too much for such an old title.
I also may be in the minority here, but playing the game at 16:9 ratio isn’t is horrible as some people make it seem, but I played the game at 4:3 regardless for the full nostalgia experience.
The game has some of the best voice acting, as well as an enjoyable soundtrack that fits well with the setting. Considering the characters are based on Mexican calaca figures used to celebrate the “Day of the Dead,” that Mexican touch in Manny’s accent definitely nails it. It’s definitely hilarious when Manny spouts some Mexican expression during dialogues or while interacting with items.
Despite its flaws, I’m happy I had the chance to play one of my favorites games again; which is why I appreciate when classics like these get the remaster treatment.
If you enjoy a well written story, great characters, excellent voice acting and music and interesting (possibly time consuming) puzzles, this game is a great pick up for both veterans and newcomers alike.