GAME NAME: Grim Fandango Remastered
DEVELOPER(S): Double Fine Productions
PUBLISHER(S): Double Fine Productions
RELEASE DATE(S): January 27th, 2015
Memories….So many good memories have been made from all of LucasArts’ old point-and-click style games. From the Monkey Island series to Indiana Jones and many others games in the genre have created a great impression towards PC games when I was growing up. Grim Fandango was another famous hit by LucasArts and I played the mess out of it when it released on the PC in 1998. Double Fine Productions have managed to take the cult classic and bring it back to life for many gamers to play on the PS4, PS Vita and PC.
Grim Fandango is a dark comedy adventure that has you taking control of Manny Calavera, a travel agent in the afterlife. The premise of the story is to offer travel packages to the recently deceased so they can go to the Ninth Underworld, while helping yourself reach that place as well. The travel packages that are available to each recently deceased person will vary depending on the amount of good deeds they did during their living life. You will be exploring areas and talking to many characters to solve puzzles with a formula that has always struck home with me. To solve these puzzles, you will be finding objects to use with other items to create sometimes hilarious results and succeed in your goal.
The characters you encounter in Grim Fandango are so full of life and sass that it keeps you interested to ask as many questions as possible. Usually with games that have multiple dialogue options, players choose what they feel most relevant to. In this game though, you’re more prone to asking absurd or even making ridiculous comments. That is the whole point of the dialogue system and it makes you want to dig deeper into each character you talk to. The puzzle system is extremely clever and might be a bit too difficult for gamers that haven’t played games like this before. It would be hard for me to fully explain how the system works, although it revolves around literally finding or obtaining objects to use with other objects, people or the scenery to advance in the story. The only way to notice if something can be interacted with, Manny will look in that general direction to give hint that there is something of use or interest. You can gain hints at what to do next by asking a lot of questions to characters you encounter and some of their hints are vague, but helpful. One thing that can get frustrating at times is having to manually save your progress throughout the game. Even though you can’t die, it still can cause an issue if you forget to save before quitting since there is no auto-save.
The original Grim Fandango used tank controls and with this remastered version they added camera relative controls that make it a bit easier to navigate for newcomers. Tank controls are still an option if desired, which is where you turn your character with the left analog and push up or down to go forward or backwards in that direction. Camera relative controls are being able to push the analog in the direction you desire to move depending on the camera angle. Pressing “Triangle” will open up your inventory, which is Manny pulling items from his coat for you to see and decide. The “X” button will be your main interaction button to search areas, use items or even talk with characters. To run you will press “R1” and that will save tons of time since he walks extremely slow, like the “dead”.
Graphically, Grim Fandango Remastered has the same exact static backgrounds that were in the original version from 1998. The character models however, have been cleaned up quite a bit and smoothed out with anti-aliasing along with better shadowing detail. You can switch back and forth between original and remastered graphics by clicking the right analog stick (R3). The game is displayed in a 4:3 aspect ratio with borders on the left and right of the screen. You can change it to wide screen 16:9 and it will inflate the image to fit the screen. It doesn’t look as natural in 16:9 as it does in 4:3 aspect ratio. The cut scenes are still the same from the original version and have the same frame rate issues that they had back in ’98. I think they could have taken a bit more time to create a smoother transition or even remodeled the static backgrounds and cut scenes to have a more “remastered” feel.
The sound is perfect as ever and doesn’t add anything new, which is great in my opinion. The voice acting is still as original as I hoped it would be and the sounds are authentic from the cult classic. I thoroughly have enjoyed listening to every conversation all over again with this remastered re-release of Grim Fandango. The music was actually rerecorded by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and it sounds fantastic with the jazz and mariachi mix hitting the spot while playing.
Grim Fandango was possibly the last adventure game of the 90’s and is still remembered as a cult classic. The remastered version, although still a fantastic game and worth playing, doesn’t do it justice being recognized as remastered. If the visuals were 100% overhauled then I feel this would’ve been a true remastered success of this amazing game. Don’t let the visuals push you away as Grim Fandango is worth experiencing no matter what and will remind you that good games are far and few between. I do wish Double Fine added a more natural widescreen option, but I still enjoyed the game till the end without it bothering that much. If you are a fan of adventure games that make you think, laugh and have fun then Grim Fandango Remastered is a must have purchase.