Back in 1998 LucasArts released an adventure game called Grim Fandango where the player follows the adventures of Manuel ”Manny” Calavera in the Land of the Dead. Despite being considered a commercial failure, the game was well received by critics, and it is still considered a classic. 17 years later Manny receives a facelift in the form of Grim Fandango Remastered, bringing this cult classic into a new age.
The world and the story of Grim Fandango are easily its best assets, in the original game and the remastered version. The game world is a wonderful combination of Aztec beliefs about the afterlife and film noir elements, creating a unique experience unlike any other. This is amplified by a distinctive art style and a good soundtrack. The story follows Manny, a salesman at the Department of Death (D.O.D) whose job it is to help the recently deceased find their path to the Ninth Underworld, a place of eternal rest. After a mistake regarding a client, Manny sets out to save her and to uncover a conspiracy at the very heart of D.O.D. On his adventure Manny encounters a wide range of colorful characters, and the conversations are sometimes hilarious, sometimes melancholic, but always well-written.
The gameplay of Grim Fandango is in the style of classic 90s adventure games : the player controls Manny as he explores different areas and collects items that help him overcome obstacles and solve puzzles. The game also suffers from the typical hiccups of these types of games. Each puzzle only has one solution, and it is not always the most logical one. While challenging the player to think outside the box is always welcome, some of the puzzles still feel a bit cheap. The camera angles are also something of a nuisance, and that makes finding some items and clues more difficult than it should be. The camera, combined with the confusing nature of some puzzles often results in a frustrated roaming of the areas, after which you discover that the solution is some insignificant object tucked away at the the furthest corner of the room that you could hardly even see.
When it comes to the remastered aspects of the game, the improvements are not too mind-blowing: the character models, shadows and lighting effects have been improved, while the backgrounds are the same. The lack of background improvements ages the game, and the player is left wondering why they didn’t get an upgrade. There is also an option to switch between the original and the remastered graphics, but due to the same backgrounds the effect that this has is rather unimpressive. Other changes in the remastered version include the developer’s commentary track and an improved control scheme.
Grim Fandango Remastered brings a classic of yesteryear to the 21st century , and mostly succeeds. While the puzzles are at times more frustrating than engaging and the game has aged at places, Grim Fandango Remastered is still a captivating story set in a unique world, proving that good writing is timeless.
Developers: LucasArts, Double Fine Productions
Publisher: Double Fine Productions
Release Date: 27.1.2015
Platforms: PC, PS4, PS Vita, Linux, OS X, Android, iOS
Genre: Adventure, Point’n Click
PEGI Rating: 12